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Brownies make me make them. It doesn’t matter what I think of the recipe or if I’m in the mood (which I wasn’t) or if I’m sneezing my head off (which I am) or if I don’t like caramel and D ain’t a fan of nuts (which I don’t and he ain’t). Brownies seduce me by saying, “It takes five minutes to stir me I promise, and you don’t even have to use anything except a whisk and a bowl!” They didn’t lie, these were the easiest brownies. Even if the use of corn syrup made me look at them sideways, I tried it and was very happy! Not sure why they’re called rich and fudgey, but I halved the recipe so that could’ve changed things. They came out an almost pound cake texture, very simple and ready to have topping.

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It ain’t caramel, I realize this. Caramel makes me make annoyed faces, and the recipe sounded a little intimidating! When Dorie tells me to back up so I don’t et splatter burnt, I have to admit this doesn’t make m want it more. To be honest, I ain’t ever made ay kind of caramel sauce or anything before! These brownies are in slices with my first butterscotch sauce recipe from the Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book. It’s really frigging good! It never came to the soft boil stage, which was really annoying but it worked.

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Little brothers are supposed to be little. They’re not allowed to turn into charmingly freckled, incredibly tall guys are they? Who authorized this? When he turned up on our doorstep for a week, he’d grows an alarming amount! He looks… almost sophisticated really. Much more mature than his 16 years, almost a grown… errrr…
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Ok, not quite yet. Look at this expression would ya? This is what took over the house. The redheaded monster. Bratasaurus.

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Together the bratasaurus and me made our very first bowl of ice cream. Standing on tiptoes (me, not him), we watched in amazement as the creamy ingredients churned their way to actual ice creamy goodness! Raspberry Sour Cream Ice Cream was that week’s TWD, and it didn’t last the evening before it was devoured.

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Then he wanted to learn to bake something! Grabbing the country white bread recipe I know works every time, we tackled his first loaf of bread. It rose a little bit more than expected, which I’m blaming on him for distracting me.

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Please pretend this picture ain’t here. It’s better for all of us, really.

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Who knew sharks could be cute? Batasaurus and me headed to the local marine aquarium, a small one that focuses on marine rescue instead of shows. The animals were the best, but the real attraction for us was one dolphin named…

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Winter! This gorgeous girl is Winter, known the world over for surviving all odds and learning to live without a tail. When she was young, her tail became tangled in a crap trap, and it was so badly damaged it fell off.

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She’s learned to swim side to side like a shark, but while effective they worry that she’ll develop spinal problems from moving in a way her body wasn’t made for. Her very own prosthetic tail is being worked on right now, and soon she’ll be swimming like any other dolphin!

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Celebrity dolphins aside, there were other stars as well. This is Cooper, a river otter who’s back legs don’t work after being struck by a car several years ago. He gets around just fine, dragging his back end on land and swimming like any other otter in the water.

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Speaking of wild animals…

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This is Nicholas! The white marks you see on his back are scars from third degree burns, as a baby he was beached and suffered intense burning from the sun. He’s healthy and happy now, and puts on a great performance!

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Panama really won my heart. She’s an older dolphin, who’s teeth were too worn own to catch prey, and she became a begger dolphin. They swim by boats and beg for hand outs from people, which ends up being very bad for them when people feed them all sorts of junk food. Winter and Panama are friends, and chatted away at us as we leaned in over their tank. It’s a very small aquarium, and you can get right up close and personal with the girls (which they proved by cheerfully spraying me down).

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What’s a day with the animals without souvenirs?

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Ah, vacation. It seems so long ago, and at the time I thought it would be easy. Get away for a few days, enjoy Orlando…

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Eat a lot of this…

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Some of this and this…

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Then when we came back, I’d whip this right up!

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Nectarines. How did I get this far without ever knowing you? You are now my fav fruit, and I’ve become obbssesed with you. It’s true, you could call me a nectarine stalker. In desserts I’ve snuck you in, on fish I’ve paired you with onions. Dorie’s Summer Fruit Galette was the beginning of a hot, sticky affair!

All was happening as planned, and then…

…he showed up.

First day at the gym. Enjoy these for now.

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Pudding is one of my all time favourite foods ever. How could it not be? Jello snacks and home made, even those boxes of instant pudding get eaten up by me. This was a whole new experience with pudding, real dark chocolate! This pudding is so rich, even I can only eat a few spoons of it at once.

Green and Black Chocolate is my chocolate of choice, and that’s what I used for the cocoa and the chocolate bar. Y’all, their 70% cocoa don’t play around. This is not a pudding cup is what I’m trying to make clear. This is the kind of pudding that kicks open the fridge door, grabs you by the collar and dares you take a bite. It’s pudding with attitude problems and a rap sheet.

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Dorie’s instructions were great and had I followed them I’m sure the pudding would have been even better. Y’all know me, and know I didn’t and instead dumped everything into the same pan and whisked. Ok, I tempered the eggs with some warm milk but that’s as fancy as I managed. Didn’t even melt the chocolate first. It came out silky and lump free, what more can you ask for? Oh, and there was no whole milk in the house or even skim milk so I used non fat powdered milk and put a little heavy cream in it that needed to be used.

There is no good reason for this next picture.

 

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Tried to make another pie. It could’ve been made with other berries, because I can’t stand anything about a blueberry in the slightest. The more I tried to come up with one though, the more I couldn’t help thinking about the original and the very idea of making one began to make me feel ill which is silly but it did. Y’all will get no pie from me this week, and I’ll warn you now I won’t be commenting either because I can’t handle looking at them all and talking about them. Y’all get this instead, enjoy.

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You bake scones late at night, and take a few pics that kinda suck because of the lighting so you promise yourself you’ll take pics again in the morning. Two scones are carefully put away for breakfast, and the next morning you take them out and arrange them carefully on your plate. You heat them a little, and put butter on them and allow yourself one bite before the photo shoot. When you grab your camera, you realize that somebody has stolen your scones! There’s nothing you can do, but wipe the crumbs from your face (how did those get there?) and post what you have.

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Darling scones, you are tender and sweet. The extra tablespoon of sugar I added gave you the special touch of sweet I was craving, the sugar was brown and that suited you. The next time I promise I’ll make your chunks of cheese bigger and your apples larger (per D’s request), but please know I love you the way you are. Your friends are in the freezer waiting for tomorrow’s breakfast, your appley goodness lingers on my tongue. Moist and delicate, yet you make my tummy feel like it had a hearty breakfast. Will you marry me Apple Cheddar Scone?

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Three tablespoons of brown sugar instead of what the recipe called for was the only change I made. Wanna try the yogurt trick on these, it would be nice to reduce the fat. The better the cheese you use, the better these are. For y’all who can’t find dried apples, www.nutsonline.com will be your best friend.

This cobbler was ready yesterday, I promise! The camera decided it wanted to get all pissy, and it didn’t let me put the pics up last night so my slacker butt is showing y’all now. It ain’t the best pic, it was a quick one before we ate it!

What to say about it? It was perfect, I could eat this all day and not get sick of it! Simple and ain’t fussy at all, no real skill required. As y’all can see, i didn’t roll out the crust because I’m lazy and like the spikey biscuits. The dough is easy to dot on the top, and it came out very fluffy inside. The only other change I made was an attempt to shape up. Changed out most of the cream for low fat vanilla yogurt, and you couldn’t tell the difference.

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French chocolate brownies. Y’all know I’m shamefully bad about anything that I think is “fussy”, it’s an awfull habit. Even the littlest hint of something chic, and I retreat into overalls with hayseed firmly in teeth and I fully admit that the word French tuck on the front of these made me wonder what silly fluff was being applied to torture perfectly good brownies!

Y’all have to excuse me while I eat that hay seed as a side dish to the helping of crow I’ll be having. They’re so simple, so brilliant! Skipped the raisins this time to find out what the basic brownie was like, but I wanna try more with added fruits and nuts and whatever. They’re one bowl easy!

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Didn’t have the right size pan for brownies, so I usually make mine in silicone cupcake liners on a baking sheet. They were in for 40 minutes at 350 F, and they came out the perfect fudgeiness. The tops have had me obssessing over them since they came out of the oven!

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The crust is as thin as paper, it shatters with even the slightest pressure to expose a small pocket of air underneath. It’s smooth as if it was polished in the oven, flakey and without any real substance at all. The brownie is the opposite, fudgey without being underdone and rich enough while not being so heavy you can only take a bite.

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These brownies are sex. Which means that I must be knocked up by now, had quite a lot of them without any protection whatsoever! After all, had to peel their rubber off before indulging.

French Chocolate Brownies  – makes 16 brownies

Ingredients
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/3 cup raisins, dark or golden
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons; 6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 12 pieces
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil, place the pan on a baking sheet, and set aside.
Whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon, if you’re using it.
Put the raisins in a small saucepan with the water, bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the water almost evaporates. Add the rum, let it warm for about 30 seconds, turn off the heat, stand back and ignite the rum. Allow the flames to die down, and set the raisins aside until needed.
Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Slowly and gently melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter, stirring so that it melts. It’s important that the chocolate and butter not get very hot. However, if the butter is not melting, you can put the bowl back over the still-hot water for a minute. If you’ve got a couple of little bits of unmelted butter, leave them—it’s better to have a few bits than to overheat the whole. Set the chocolate aside for the moment.
Working with a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they are thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Lower the mixer speed and pour in the chocolate-butter, mixing only until it is incorporated—you’ll have a thick, creamy batter. Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds—the dry ingredients won’t be completely incorporated and that’s fine. Finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula, then fold in the raisins along with any liquid remaining in the pan.
Scrape the batter into the pan and bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is dry and crackled and a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the brownies to cool to warm or room temperature.
Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. With a long-bladed knife, cut the brownies into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side, taking care not to cut through the foil.
Serving: The brownies are good just warm or at room temperature; they’re even fine cold. I like these with a little something on top or alongside—good go-alongs are whipped crème fraiche or whipped cream, ice cream or chocolate sauce or even all three!
Storing: Wrapped well, these can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

Did y’all know that you have to punch the brioche down after you put it in the fridge, a few times for the first 3 hours? Last night while reading I realized that I never did. No slapping at all. It came out the exact same way as the other brioche did. Do y’all think this means it ain’t a needed step? Opinions?