Commonplace Book, 21

This picture is fancy because it was taken by a more skilled photographer at the baby shower I threw last weekend.

What is a commonplace book? For me, this is a space where I post interesting links, reflections on what I’m reading, and the newest recipes I’ve been trying out — a collection of miscellaneous micro-posts.

What I’m fixing:

  • Daddy brownies. I said I’d post it, so here goes:
1 c butter
4 Tbsp oil (I KNOW. You can use coconut oil if it makes you feel healthier.)
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c cocoa
2 c sugar
1 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 c nuts (optional)
1 c mixed chocolate chips 

First, this is one where it helps to use a metal pan or even aluminum, and to make the brownies a day before. It’s hard to get them to set well enough to cut cleanly and these precautions help. Or else embrace gooey falling apart brownies and serve them with ice cream. Who am I to judge?

So grease your 9 X 13 pan and preheat to 350. In a big pot over low-to-medium heat, combine butter, cocoa and oil, stirring constantly. 
Remove from heat. You can transfer to a bowl at this point but life is is short and death is coming (LOOK AT ALL THAT BUTTER) and why make more dishes for yourself? Add sugar. Cool slightly. Add eggs, beating till well blended. Stir in vanilla, salt and flour. Add nuts and chips. 
Bake 30-35 minutes. The toothpick test doesn’t really work. As the old recipes say so infuriatingly, “Cook until done.”
  • Freezer-Friendly Frittata Sandwiches: because I like to have frozen meals ready to go for J’s lunches. Not because he’s incapable of making himself a sandwich, but because he may actually be in capable of making himself a sandwich AND remembering it all the way to work.
  • Bread Machine Naan. It needed more butter and salt, but frankly, what doesn’t?

What I’m reading:

Teaching them how to design lives brimming with meaning, connection and value is a monumental challenge. We’re still learning how to get there ourselves.

Commonplace Book, 19

What is a commonplace book? For me, this is a space where I post interesting links, reflections on what I’m reading, and the newest recipes I’ve been trying out — a collection of miscellaneous micro-posts.

What I’m fixing:

  • Roasted garlic ciabatta. I linked to my basic ciabatta recipe here but if you add roasted garlic after the initial mixing, you get little chunks and ribbons throughout the whole loaf, and it is so good that I made it twice this week and used up all the roasted garlic in the house. (Hint: you can make a ton of roasted garlic at once with a bag of garlic bulbs from Costco and your trusty slow cooker.)
  • Beefy butternut squash chili. Still more or less like this, but this time with carrots and celery instead of zucchini, diced fine in the hopes J wouldn’t notice it was in there. (He did, but he didn’t mind.)

What I’m reading:

  • Instagram, Social Media, and Keepin’ It Real — It is fashionable to trash social media, and while Instagram is probably responsible for my relentless pursuit of good light and tidy surfaces (one succeeding more than the other), I always think back to a photo album I made a couple springs ago. The pictures were all taken during the fall and winter I was pregnant with Scout, an era that felt long and dull and monotonous, when Pip watched a lot of tv, I ate a lot of cheese (and threw up some of it), and we waited for snow to melt and life to move forward. But the album of that time is beautiful, chronicling the day I strapped on my lower back support and took Pippin to the arboretum’s bulb show with friends; the slow mornings we spent reading and wandering around the apartment; my proud and hopeful face over a blooming belly in the photos I shot in our little dated bathroom. That’s the power of photography: to wrest the good moments from the chaotic and messy and hard.
  • All the Light We Cannot SeeI read it while I was pregnant with Scout, and liked it very much, but I probably wouldn’t be re-reading it if not for Well-Read Moms. So thanks, WRM, because I’m enjoying it all over again:

Open your eyes, concludes the man, and see what you can with them before they close forever, and then a piano comes on, playing a lonely song that sounds to Werner like a golden boat traveling a dark river, a profession of harmonies that transfigures Zollverein: the houses turned to mist, the mines filled in, the smokestacks fallen, an ancient sea spilling through the streets, and the air streaming with possibility.

  • Queen of Shadows, now that I’m done with The Raven King, which had beautiful passages but kind of a flat, tone-deaf ending, I thought: more like the strained optimism and normalcy of HP7 than the haunting LOTR-esque melancholy I would have expected. I don’t know.
  • Present Over Perfect. My least favorite of Shauna Niequist’s stuff, which is not to say I didn’t like it, because she’s wonderful. But I was discussing it with the friend who first introduced the author to me, and we agreed that the shift from primarily narrative to primarily addressed to “you” felt a little self-help-y and less rich than some of her other books.

I now leave you with a picture of Scout and fall leaves, lest you worry that I only photograph my firstborn with autumnal foliage.