THINGS I LIKE
- Kir Royales: I am not a mixologist. In fact, I feel about cocktail-making the way many people feel about baking: given the proper recipe, I can follow along and make something delicious, but riffing and creating my own drink typically ends up with a mouthful of gin or a fizzy glass of something resembling a margarita's overly-sweet, uncool cousin. But a Kir Royale! Perfection every time. All you need to do is add a splash of cassis (splurge on the good stuff here) to a glass of sparkling wine. That's about as easy as drinking it.
- When your muscles feel really sore after an extra-hard workout. I like when my abs hurt when I laugh, because it means I'm potentially developing some serious muscles (insert bicep emoji) and also because it makes me more aware of laughing. And what a pleasure to be around people who make you laugh.
- Watching old episodes of Project Runway. For me, Tim Gunn is on par comfort-wise with Ina Garten. I like to curl up on my sofa (beneath the soft maroon striped wool blanket my oldest sister knitted for me last Christmas) with a small dish of chocolate chips (these days, I mix white chocolate chips, semisweet chunks, and peppermint chips) and eagerly await each episode's runway show. (Is it ironic that I'm watching the creation of high fashion whilst wearing a 6-year-old oversized American Apparel sweatshirt with holes in the sleeve? Whatever. Call it aspirational.)
- Crispy mushrooms. I heat a thin sheen of butter in a large skillet, then add thinly sliced shiitakes (as many as I can fit in a single layer). Cook them over high heat, flipping occasionally, until they're nearly burnt. Sprinkle them with salt, and eat them like potato chips or use them like croutons.
- "One Last Song" by Sam Smith. Let's just say it's a good thing that I'm alone this entire week in my apartment, because I cannot stop waltzing around the apartment and singing along to this song at the top of my lungs. (Sidebar: I'm basically tune-deaf. This isn't a pretty sight. But it makes me happy so YOLO as you kids say.)
- Discovering new poets I like. Do you know May Sarton? Her words are beautiful, moving, and I am soaking them up. Here are some favorite lines:
"In the middle of the night/my bedroom washed in moonlight/and outside/the faint hush-hushing/of an ebbing tide./And all this is bathed/In the scent of roses/By my bed/Where there are always/Books and flowers./In the middle of the night/The bliss of being alive!"
"I thought of happiness, how it is woven/Out of the silence in the empty house each day/And how it is not sudden and it is not given/But is creation itself like the growth of a tree."
- Frozen brownies. As a general life practice, I try to keep a pint of ice cream in my freezer. (I say try to, because I usually eat a pint in a sitting, so I have to remember to replace it. If you are the sort of person who always has a half-eaten pint in there, I salute you.) I like chocolate fudge brownie, but frankly, there's rarely enough in the way of mix-ins in any store-bought brand. So I like to freeze brownies, then break up pieces and stir them into a bowl of ice cream to sort of supplement the whole cookie-dough-brownie-bite-mix-in situation. This recipe is great in every single way: warm from the oven, eaten once cooled, eaten at room temperature the next day, eaten frozen, or even eaten messily with your fingers, crumbs spilling everywhere, as you dance around to Sam Smith!
Very Good for Freezing Brownies
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup (3 1/6 ounces) flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (4 ounces) sour cream
Melt the butter with both of the chocolates over a double boiler (or in a microwave) until smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8" x 8" pan or line with parchment and grease the parchment.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together. Add the vanilla and beat well.
Fold in the cooled chocolate mixture, and then fold in the flour, salt, and sour cream. Mix until the batter just comes together -- don't overmix.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it.
Remove from the oven and let cool fully before slicing and serving.