Friday, November 22, 2013

Here's some little brownies for your soul.

Bratty Sister was the first of us to get hitched, and due to hilarious connections with her hubby's family <back story to come>, and the fact that our family was also small, we have spent many a holiday co-celebrating with them. 

While every single one of their respective members are super lovely and delightful people, my sister's father-in-law is/was one of my favorite people. He was in a rock band with his buddies, called NOS (Not Otherwise Specified), loved The Big Lebowski so much his grand-kids call(ed) him Grandpa Dude, and was one of the most loving, authentic, alive people I've ever met. 

Unfortunately, cancer got him. Effin' cancer. 

Since there was some advance warning, though, he was able to spell out how he wanted the celebration of his life to go, and was able to visit with friends and family *almost too much* before he passed away.

One of his wishes was, instead of a "prayer card" or remembrance card that just listed his name, birth and death dates, that his famous brownie recipe be printed instead. Yeah, he was just that cool. 
This coming January will be six years (really?!?) since he died. My card hangs on the front of my frig, so I always know where it is. You can tell it gets used, because of the various stains and such on it. 

These brownies are so flarking delicious and really super easy to make, as there is nothing really special in the brownies - stuff most of us have lurking in the cabinets. But they are special because making them makes me smile because I imagine his face and smile. Eating them makes me smile more. 

Since I know Tom would have been highly annoyed to miss Bratty Sister's Epic Birthday celebration, and since I had to travel to get there, a birthday cake seemed difficult to navigate. Enter Tom Ramseyer's Famous "They Might Be Giants"** Brownies, to their chocolatey, and easily traveled, rescue. 

2 cups sugar
1 cup cocoa (not dutch processed)
1 cup all purpose flour [I used GF flour and they were still flarking delicious]
1 cup chopped pecans [Bratty Sister is not a fan of nuts, so I omitted them]
1 cup chocolate chips [I used Ghiradelli chips - 1/2 cup semi-sweet, 1/2 cup 60% cacao]
1 cup butter, softened
4 eggs*

*-Funny story: when I got around to making the brownies, I realized I only had 3 eggs. Given that it was post-Justin Timberlake concert and post-brunch, my energy reserves were low, so I did what any rational human would do and googled baking substitutions for egg. Luckily, the healthiest option was 1/4 cup of applesauce and we just happened to have some organic, unsweetened around, so problem solved!

First step is to preheat the over to 325 degrees and then grease a 12 x 9 pan. I have a 13 x 9 pan so used that instead. I like to think Tom dictated this incorrectly on purpose as I don't recall ever owning or seeing a 12 x 9 pan.....

In a bowl, mix together the dry ingredients, including chocolate chips and nuts. Put to the side.

In a large bowl, cream the butter until it is super nice and fluffy. Then, crack one egg at a time, whip it in with the butter, until all four all combined with the butter. Or add your applesauce. 

I also added a bit of vanilla emulsion as well as some King Arthur Princess Emulsion too. Just to hit it out of the park. 

At this juncture, add the dry ingredients. I like to add a little at a time, so you don't get gnarly chunks myself, until all of the dry ingredients are folded in nice and smooth. 

Put the chocolatey goodness in the greased pan and put it in the pre-heated over for 40-50 minutes. I had help with the beaters too, which was super awesome. 

As Tom's directions state: Most importantly - eat with gusto and enjoy! 
No prob, Grandpa Dude. No problem at all. 

Honestly, wouldn't that made a great life mantra: Most importantly - <activity> with gusto and enjoy!

They were very well received at the birthday celebration, of course - I think only two made the trip home with me. And those were quickly dispatched the next day. Both by me. 

If you ever need a quick recipe that is homemade and super delicious, try this one. 

Unless you don't like chocolate and then, I am not sure why we're friends. Caveat going to my friend, Tammy. She's really funny and sends me Kid President videos. If you like Kid President and don't like chocolate, I will still like you. True story.

Side question: 
When speaking about someone you love who has died, 
do you find it hard to talk of them in past-tense? 

I really have a hard time with it, even though my Spock brain says, "Dude, that is most accurate". While I am a secular humanist, there is still a part of me that believes my deceased loved ones are with me. Maybe not all the time, because that would be super creepy, but enough. Just curious about you. 

** - I am not certain why these are TMBG Brownies but as one of my fave bands, I just go with it. In case you were wondering. I should ask my brother-in-law.....

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