For the first time ever, I memorized a recipe (brownies from scratch), which should tell you something about New England winter. As one who reads recipes for inspiration but rarely follows them due to lifelong stick-it-to-the-man tendencies, cynicism and mistrust (don’t tell me two cloves of garlic is enough, you idiots, you don’t even know what size cloves these are! Your internal pork temperature guidelines are antiquated, trichinosis was eradicated generations ago!) I’ve never been much of a baker.
Baking is too precise. Quarter teaspoon of baking powder, no microscopic trace of yolks in the whites, seizing chocolate, room temperature ingredients, so many bowls and measuring cups and spoons getting dirty. Rolling out dough: torture.
But. When it comes to eating baked goods, our family is highly accomplished. And when the blizzardyness rages, the baked goods must be produced on-site. So.
Note: The recipe I memorized is here, and is such a tear-jerkingly phenomenal nexus of deliciousness and relative virtue that I’ve made it five times in the past six weeks. But I tinkered with it a wee bit: Quadrupled the salt, added half-teaspoon of espresso powder, measured the chocolate chips generously. Also skipped the parchment paper and just used a greased non-stick pan. As ever, ingredient quality is paramount: Ghirardelli bittersweet chips and belcolade unsweetened cocoa powder from the King Arthur website have been yielding addictive results. Oh and bake them less time than suggested. Nineteen minutes and not a second more, imho, but that’s a personal taste matter.
Gorging on transporting sweets aside, March is not a fun month to live in New England. The thrill of the holidays, when champagne flows and snow powder-coats everyone’s wreaths and light strings and festive urns to stunning effect, is long gone. The bone-chill remains. Our car interiors look like demilitarized zones, the dog wants to go for an ice walk, and there’s crap everywhere that is likely concealing missing gloves/hats/homework/bills/favorite lip balms/god knows what else. Last fall I greeted my favorite dark gray sweater and thick black cords like dear friends; now they loom in heavy rotation like clueless party guests who won’t leave.
Worse somehow is that we all know damn well Mother Nature is about to shift gears like a teenager learning to drive. So suddenly and dramatically, a world of yard work and winter damage control will deposit itself into our lives. To-Do items will extend from our property lines to our dresser drawers, and blanket every centimeter in between. For now, though, we’ve been waking up to magic such as 1*F and winds so high ski school gets canceled. This week, school was closed – again – for a snowstorm that turned into rain by night, removing the pretty, fluffy carpet on which I hoped to snowshoe the next day, leaving a sad ice crust of doom. March is a deeply unsexy time.
I don’t begrudge you west coasters the profusion of photos you’re posting of your sunshine and your gardens and greenery and your lack of jacket-wearing and what have you. No, that’s fine, we all have our geographical crosses to bear; you’re dealing with stuff like earthquakes, and levels of traffic and crime I’ve left behind. And some other stuff, I think…please do email and remind me of how you suffer.
Capping the overall sense of bullshit March serves up is the relentless barrage of springy advertisements in my in-box, in our mail-box, in the newspaper in the driveway, even dropping from helicopters overhead like consumerist propaganda for all I know, trying to persuade me with subliminal messages that if I purchase a particular thing by a particular date, be it clothing, shoes, cosmetics, accessories or ideally all of the above, I will become as tan, toned, carefree and euphoric as the models displaying the merchandise.
Retailers will find no easy targets for their psychological warfare over here, thank you very much. Just as I shake off ill-conceived directives on garlic, pork doneness and whatever I’m putting inside my body, so do I doubt/reject any guidance about what the outside of my body “needs.”
Prom dresses, Bloomingdales? That ship has sailed. Lafayette 148, who even are you and who told you I’m a lawyer or corporate executive needing thousand-dollar office ensembles? Faulty intel. Athleta, you want me to buy a closet full of “city chic” to-and-from “essentials”? A) I do not live in a city and B) I’m the boss of what’s essential over here! And all you product pushers who decided ruffles are happening this spring? Not on my watch. #noruffles #Imagrownup.
Although… the retailers are relentless. And March has a way of weakening the soul. I bought a fancy bathing suit cover-up this week from Calypso after they emailed a 25% off coupon. Which will be an essential if the brownie-baking keeps up at current levels.
As soon as my cover-up arrives (and the ice melts), I’m going to be as much fun as this woman clearly is. Until then, you may want to avoid me.