Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Chewy Brownies

Who doesn’t like a good chewy brownie made from a mix..…only the ones made from a box aren’t very chocolate-y. In comes this recipe from the folks at America’s Test Kitchen. These brownies have it all! And with three types of chocolate it is sure to please chocolate lovers.


See those spots of melted bittersweet chocolate in there? A nice added bonus stirred in at the end.


Notice in this picture all that chocolate! I like to use Hershey’s Special Dark Dutch cocoa (mmmm dark chocolate brownies) but I have made these several times with regular cocoa powder.


Make a sling out of parchment paper or foil to make removing them extra easy.


Look at that shiny crackly sugary crust.


And all those gooey chocolate bits push these over the top. These are adult brownies, and expensive with all that chocolate, but so worth it.



(click here for printable version)


⅓ cup cocoa powder (Dutch-processed if possible, I use Hershey’s Special Dark)

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 ½ cups (17 ½ ounces) sugar (I only use 2 cups for high altitude plus I prefer less sweet)

1 ¾ cups (8 ¾ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

¾ teaspoon table salt

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped or chocolate chips (I have used semi-sweet chocolate chips in a pinch)

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Make a foil or parchment sling for a 9x13-inch baking pan, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges. Spray pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Whisk cocoa and boiling water together in large bowl until smooth. Add unsweetened chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted. Whisk in melted butter and oil. (Mixture may look curdled.) Add eggs, yolks, and vanilla and continue to whisk until smooth and homogeneous. Whisk in sugar until fully incorporated. Add flour and salt and mix with rubber spatula until combined. Fold in bittersweet chocolate pieces.

3. Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake until toothpick inserted halfway between edge and center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool completely if you can stand the wait!

Original recipe from

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Van Gogh: The Mulberry Tree

I have a new art print in my home, all framed and hanging happily in my family room.


What makes Van Gogh’s The Mulberry Tree so special to me is that I found it at, what was for me, a very difficult time in my life. I had spent most of the previous year trying to pick up the pieces of my shattered life. I truly wondered if I would ever be really be happy again. What I went through isn’t important, we all have excruciating days and sometimes years where the sun just doesn’t seem to rise for us. I found solace in reading, meditating, and praying and begging God to help me rise above the ashes.

So in May of this year (2015) I made a trip to see my sister and my parents in Chino, California. I found solace with them. My sister Carolyn is a magnificent person. She is smart, intelligent, non-judgmental, and so very fun to be around. I knew I could count on a weekend of fun diversion with Carolyn. Everyone needs to forget their troubles once in a while. We went to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena one afternoon. Beautiful art is divine. I had fun wandering the exhibits with Carolyn.

van gogh2

And then I saw this Van Gogh painting. “The Mulberry Tree”


I couldn’t stop staring at it. The  colors, the harsh brush strokes, all fascinating. Then I read the plaque and began to cry.

van gogh

How is possible to suffer and still see beauty all around you? How did Van Gogh paint this and many other work of arts when he was at the lowest point of his life? In fact his suffering would claim his life, just months after this painting. I have no idea what it is to have a mental illness but I do know what it is suffer and yet to still desperately try to see the beauty of life.

I came home from that respite of a weekend, bought this print at and it now happily hangs in my home. It reminds me that the beauty of life is everywhere—even in a Mulberry Tree at an asylum,as depicted by a man, gifted and troubled. There is always beauty no matter the turmoil. Don’t give up.



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