Brownies with Bite
Comic-Con Recaps to resume tomorrow.
Last night I was curled up with a pint of Arctic Zero and Pablo Neruda pausing to reflect on my life and where it is versus where it’s going. The last year has been rough, there is no denying that, and there are things I really want to do moving forward. Things I’ve been too afraid to do. Things I had excuses not to try. Those excuses are drying up and it’s time to actually take the plunge.
My most recent ex (spiderman as I’d call him on here from time to time) was probably the biggest thing keeping me from making the move I know I need to make. I have this inability to give up on relationships with people who I’ve given part of myself to. I have this kind of sick need to see that something is really dead and gone before I can bury it and move on. I’m too afraid of leaving something still breathing or beating in a box below the ground. As a result many of my breakups happen after prolonged periods of misery for one or both people. This last one was a while coming, I saw it happening and frankly there were some really big warning signs. After all when your significant other is doing things that show an utter lack of respect to you, to your supposed relationship, that’s a sign it’s time to move on. Maybe it’s because I feel like I’ve lost so many people in my life, I want to hold on and hope it will pull through. It could also be that I’m just used to the dysfunction.
I know it’s nuts, but part of me believes that real love and passion have to go hand-in-hand with pain and fighting. I wonder where I get that from.
Still if that person in your life is texting someone else at 2AM about tearing off their clothes, odds are it’s time to get out. If there are more tense moments and almost fights than smiles, it might be time to get out. I just always want to go on fighting until there’s nothing left to fight for. That’s not the right way to be.
Do you know what I think it really comes down to? I think I, and people like me, know that it’s over but the truth is we are afraid. Fear. That’s the real problem. Another friend of mine is going through a painful breakup. I think his first. You know what echoes a lot when we talk about it? Fear. Fear of never finding someone else that makes the world shine in the way only love makes it shimmer. Fear of being alone. Fear that 20 years down the road you will look back and discover that this was the biggest mistake of your lifetime and you can never reclaim it. Fear.
You know what?
Fear is a bitch. I’m not saying go out and embrace stupid choices to defy it. Caution, sound judgment and rationality are all good things. When your skin prickles as you stand next to a roaring black bear it’s for a damn good reason. The fear of it though, that’s what leads to making stupid choices and mistakes. Fear is what keeps horses standing still when a fire rages around them. Fear is what motivates people to sacrifice their freedom for an illusion of safety. Fear is what leads to internment camps and gas chambers. Fear is what keeps us stuck in the past instead of moving forward. It’s the fear that you will look back on in life and regret.
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
If there is one thing I want to improve and to work on now, it’s not giving into that anymore. After a breakup it’s okay to be sad or be angry. I can be both of those things for a long time if I want to be. I’ll probably feel angry and used for a while still after this last one. What I refuse to be is afraid. I will not cower inside and be afraid that my life is over or that I will always look back on each last relationship with only regret. I will not fear that the best is over. That will accomplish nothing. It may be true. I must not let myself believe it before I know it. If I am 80 years old someday and reading this shaking my head at how stupid I was, I’ll know then, but I’m not 80 yet. I have the luxury of living my life right now and I’ll leave the 20/20 hindsight to my future self-regarding this message if turns out to be all wrong.
I won’t think about that today. I’ll think about it tomorrow.
So instead I’m going to jump off some cliffs and try to build my wings on the way down. Why be afraid of the fall? If I fall it will all be over and I won’t have a chance to regret it.
In honor of the Dune, the Bene Gesserit, and oddly enough this theme of anti-fear that runs through a lot of my Hugo Award nominees (just wait until I review Deadline guys) I’m going to share some ginger spiced brownies with you today. Brownies are the perfect comfort food and the spice/Dune connection is hopefully pretty obvious but don’t go thinking these are food for girls or boys wallowing in their misery. Sure they will work well for that, but the candied ginger gives these brownies a real bite hidden inside of them. A hidden surprise that will wake you up; exactly what was called for last night and what anyone stuck in their misery needs—a delicious, sharp slap to the face!
Modified slightly from Cook’s Illustrated “Classic Brownies” recipe published 2004
- 1¼ cups (5 ounces) cake flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
- 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into six 1-inch pieces
- 2¼ cups (15¾ ounces) sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup diced candied ginger (chewy kind)
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 325 degrees. Cut 18-inch length foil and fold lengthwise to 8-inch width. Fit foil into length of 13 by 9-inch baking dish, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhand pan edges. Cut 14-inch length foil and, if using extra-wide foil, fold lengthwise to 12-inch width; fit into width of baking pan in same manner, perpendicular to first sheet. Spray foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.
2. If using nuts, spread nuts evenly on rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven until fragrant, 5 to 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
3. Whisk to combine flour, salt, and baking powder in medium bowl; set aside.
4. Melt chocolate and butter in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan of almost-simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. (Alternatively, in microwave, heat butter and chocolate in large microwave-safe bowl on high for 45 seconds, then stir and heat for 30 seconds more. Stir again, and, if necessary, repeat in 15-second increments; do not let chocolate burn.) When chocolate mixture is completely smooth, remove bowl from saucepan and gradually whisk in sugar. Add eggs on at a time, whisking after each addition until thoroughly combined. Whisk in vanilla. Add flour mixture in three additions, folding with rubber spatula until batter is completely smooth and homogeneous. Stir in the ginger and any other additions you may want such as nuts.
5. Transfer batter to prepared pan; using spatula, spread batter into corners of pan and smooth surface. Bake until toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of brownies comes out with few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours, then remove brownies from pan by lifting foil overhang. Cut brownies into 2-inch squares and serve. (Store leftovers in airtight container at room temperature, for up to 3 days.)