I’ve spent the last several days not knitting. I hope to make up for that tomorrow (at Anj‘s), but I do have a few other things to tell you about.

First of all, I spent nearly all of Saturday singing shape-notes at the annual Keystone State convention. We arrived at 10:30am and left a little after 4pm. There were a couple of short breaks, and a potluck lunch for which I brought brownies, but the rest of the day was singing. My voice is still recovering… And then I spent five hours at the mall on Sunday. No, I couldn’t believe it either, and the only way I lasted more than about twenty minutes was because I had a guide who reassured me when I was about ready to run and hide in a quiet corner (not that such things really exist in a giant mall). When I got home from that, I made another batch of brownies and a potful of soba noodle stirfry. I didn’t do anything interesting the last couple of nights, but I made a third batch of basically the same brownies tonight, along with a similar soba dish. Recipes and discussion are in the extended entry.


The brownies, as I just made them:

7 T butter (unsalted, because it’s baking)
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 t vanilla
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c flour
1 c walnuts

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Melt the butter and chocolate over very low heat. Mix in the rest of the ingredients. (Handily enough, the whole recipe fits in a 1-qt saucepan.) Bake about 20 minutes and then put the pan in the freezer or an icebath until it reaches room temperature. (Do NOT use a glass pan, since it might crack from the drastic change in temperature.) Makes 16.

When I made them at 1am on Saturday, I used the same 7 T butter because I had that left after making biscuits the other week. I used 1 1/4 c sugar as called for in the recipe, and only about 2/3 c walnuts (still more than the 1/2 c called for). I liked the texture–really fudgey with a crispy crust on top–but it was too sweet. On Sunday evening, I decided to decrease the sugar and increase the walnuts and follow the amount of butter from the recipe. I also turned up my oven a bit because I suspected it was running cool. (So I set it to “425º” instead of “400º”, but I don’t have an oven thermometer right now.) Aside from the puddle of butter between the layer of foil and the pan…they turned out the perfect sweetness (and chocolateyness) and nuttiness but they were more cookie-like than brownie-like. (Of course, I brought most of that batch to work, and I got some thrilled comments, particularly about the texture. And I kind of liked the texture of the day-and-a-half-old brownies that’d been in a plastic container…)

I’m hoping that this batch will be mostly the texture of the first batch and the flavor of the second batch. If they don’t work out, who knows? Maybe I’ll make another batch this weekend. (Original brownie recipe from Cookies and Brownies via Baking Sheet)

The soba dishes were really, really good. Most of the reason I wanted to try again this evening was to see if I could replicate the really nice flavor I got on Sunday, since I hadn’t known it’d be that tasty. I started out with my standard faux-Southeast-Asian stirfry seasoning (low-sodium soy sauce, garlic, ginger, cayenne, vinegar, sugar, maybe some onion), but I threw in some toasted sesame oil for keeping the soba from becoming a pasta mass. (I saw enough of those in dining co-ops in college to last the rest of my life.) I think the mixed Asian mushrooms also helped the flavor. (The spinach was also tasty, but it’s enough of a staple in my cooking that I don’t think it made the difference here.)