I absolutely hate picking favorites. My grandmother always said never to use the word hate, but I’m going to be a rebel and use it anyway. Because I truly, truly do. No, I can’t tell you my favorite flavor of ice cream-you’ve got give me more to work with. Are we eating it plain, or accessorizing? Is soft serve an option, or not? What’s my day been like? Am I in the mood to experiment? It’s kind of a big deal, picking a favorite, and not something that can be decided on a whim.
So when I tell you Katherine Hepburn is my favorite actress, this is big. Potentially even dim the lights, raise the curtain, drum roll big. I’ve liked her ever since I saw her in “Desk Set;” she was witty, she was smart, she was strong, and she held her own with co-stars like Spencer Tracey, Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart. She also apparently made one killer brownie, which is the relevant part to this story.
You see, brownies have always been my baking Achilles heel. It’s not for want of trying. I bake a lot; last summer I kept track of how much butter I used up, but since this blog is supposed to be family-friendly, I’ll just say the surgeon general would NOT approve. I’ve had a lot of successes (at least judging by how quickly my cookies disappear from our kitchen….), but none in the brownie department. Even brownies featured on Oprah were a disaster in my hands.
But, if there is one thing MIT has taught me, it’s that failing doesn’t have to be forever. In high school I was one of those kids who, if I applied myself, succeeded. I studied hard, I got good grades, and that was that. Things have been a little different here at MIT. Sure, I’ve done generally pretty well, but I also failed my first 8.02 test. What I’ve learned is that it’s not about failing, but what you do with it. After I failed that test, yes, I freaked out (I’d be fooling nobody if I told you I wasn’t the slightest bit upset), but then I met with my professor, figured out how I could learn from my mistakes, and moved on. I changed how I studied, focused on different problems, and although it was a lot of work I ended up doing just fine. You can’t be awesome at everything, all the time; it’s much more practical to know how to ask for help, how to focus on what you can improve, rather than worrying about what you can’t change.
This brings us back neatly to the story of the brownies; a few days ago, I decided to try my hand at baking some from scratch once again. I had stumbled across Ms. Hepburn’s recipe in the midst of some online meandering, and decided to give it a shot. It was a simple recipe, and it did the trick. The brownies were fudgy and delicious, and while not perfect, I consider it a success. This is probably the part where I’m supposed to say, “now remember children…” or something, but I think you can see where I’m going.
So instead, here are some links to a variety of brownie recipes, in case this post got you hungry:
- Ina’s outrageous brownies, via the smitten kitchen, one of my favorite blogs (bonus: she has the most adorable son ever).
- The Baked brownie, a favorite of Oprah and America’s Test Kitchen (which is located in Brookline! my friend got to visit while she was working on a 2.009 (a senior MechE design class) project and I was extremely jealous. PBS is where it’s at, and two of my favorite shows are ATK and This Old House, both of which are based/started in Boston).
- King Arthur Flour’s recipe. It’s guaranteed! Which means I must have been doing something terribly wrong. They weren’t a complete disaster, I just didn’t get that nice crackly, crunchy top.