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practice makes improvements – and sometimes that’s good enough

6 August 2010

dj

few master a skill or craft at first attempt. undeniably, some are simply naturals, whether by gift or genetics or gosh-darn good luck. most of us need practice—and a lot of it—to refine and ultimately excel at whatever we choose to undertake. sometimes we never really get there. but with perseverance, we can prevail. well, we can, at least, improve.

like my buddy Elroy. following his surgery, he began a course of aqua therapy to strengthen and regain full use of his knee. i’ve heard people say that a bulldog manuevers in water as adeptly as a bowling ball. needless to say, i had some maternal reservations. but Elroy enthusiastically entered the therapy tank and happily padded along its treadmill. the first session (catch the Olympic hopeful in action) was short. we both left feeling drained (my role as cheerleader was likely a ridiculous sight) but exhilarated. the next session didn’t go quite as smoothly. boredom from the redundant task of keeping pace with the treadmill and from lapping up the chlorinated water slowed Elroy’s progress. but he admirably plugged through six sessions (enticed by a very large balance ball) and markedly increased his mobility. no, his middle name will never be grace, but for a lumbering bulldog, he’s rather spritely.

after quite some time away from the kitchen, i’ve been reacquainting myself with old favorites like chocolate-chunk oatmeal cookies with pecans and dried cherries, which i made three times just to make sure i had it down (yeah, right), and a batch of scones. i tossed together a peach pan dowdy, with a not-so-picture-perfect crust, and i smoked a few chickens with cherry wood. i also discovered a great recipe for the fudgiest brownies i’ve ever tasted. so, i’m sharing that with you here. it’s been great just to dive in and revel in the process.

what i’ve learned is this:  you don’t have to be an expert to enjoy the journey. whatever your passion, follow that true north. and, like Elroy and me, enjoy the ride.

Chocolate Brownies
a variation on a recipe from bonappetit

INGREDIENTS

2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 ounces bittersweet, chopped
2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs

DIRECTIONS

  1. set oven rack in lower middle position; preheat to 325 F.
  2. line an 10-inch square pan with non-stick aluminum foil; spray foil with nonstick spray. (i also make a batch and a half in a 13x9x2-inch pan, so the brownies have some height.)
  3. whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in small bowl.
  4. combine both chocolates and 10 tablespoons butter in medium saucepan over medium-low heat; stir until melted and smooth, then remove from heat.
  5. whisk sugar and vanilla, then eggs into chocolate mixture until it’s glossy and smooth, about 1 minute.
  6. add dry ingredients, and whisk just to blend.
  7. pour batter into prepared pan, and bake until tester inserted into center comes out with some moist crumbs attached, about 25 – 30 minutes.
  8. cool completely in pan on rack.

these brownies are densely rich and seriously chocolately. serve with some of your favorite ice cream on top. salted caramel sauce. or plain. they’re amazing either way.

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3 Comments

Post a comment
  1. Elizabeth Erskine #
    August 6, 2010

    deb, you’re so right. Passion and innate ability don’t always coexist. But if you’re passionate about something, who cares!

  2. jules #
    August 11, 2010

    glad to hear elroy’s doing well!

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