A Week of Almost No Cooking (and A Top Secret Brownie Trick)

This lowly, unadorned turkey sandwich just landed on my list of favorite food moments.

Last week we were in Tahoe enjoying the incredible scenery, playing at the lake, doing a little fishing, boating or nothing at all if we felt like it. We threw together some simple pasta one night, rallied to bake brownies out of the box – nibbled on this and that and had our fair share of turkey sandwiches. That was pretty much the extent of our culinary adventures. As uneventful as that sounds, my week of almost no cooking brought me back to basics and reminded me about what really matters when it comes to all these food adventures we’ve been writing about. Sometimes the most humble meals are the most extraordinary if you’re sharing them with people you love.  Although it would be nice to see him grow into an adventurous eater and capable cook with a curiosity about where his food comes from, my greatest “foodie” wish for my son is just that he have as many happy memories around a dinner (or picnic) table as I do.

And now for the brownies….

Despite not thinking much about food all week (a rarity!), I still managed to learn something useful during this little hiatus…. something that resolves a long-standing annoyance I have with brownies — getting them out of the pan without tearing them to bits! I always imagine perfect little squares arranged artfully on a plate, and usually get jaggedy, sad looking things heaped in a pile. Luckily my family never rejects brownies for poor presentation.

As we were pulling our Duncan Hines beauties out of the oven, with hungry hoardes circling, my sister-in-law casually said “Can you grab a plastic knife? It works much better when they’re still warm.” Plastic knife! Such a low-tech and utterly simple trick. I have no idea why it works and no idea why I never heard this before, but I can back this one up 100%. “Like buttah!” Hurrah! No more clumpy looking brownies with the tops ripped off!

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10 thoughts on “A Week of Almost No Cooking (and A Top Secret Brownie Trick)

  1. How fun that you spent a week in Tahoe. It’s so beautiful up there.

    I completely agree about humble foods. When my husband and I camp, everything always tastes so much better!

    Thanks for sharing your vacation with us. :-)

  2. Thanks guys!

    Lemons and anchovies: Tahoe is definitely one of our favorite places. We could easily spend a month up there. We haven’t attempted camping yet with a little one in tow, but we just may sometime this summer. Campfires and s’mores are definitely motivating factors.

    HD: I always think of you and your sis when we’re in Tahoe. We might have to do a “supper club” reunion sometime. Where is the world is that kid named Tommy, remember him? Kind of like cousin Oliver from the Brady Bunch.

    Sensiblecooking: I’ve never made a brownie from scratch. Duncan Hines just seems to do the trick for me.

  3. I recently read about using a plastic knife. And I had no idea why. But you made me think about my son, who is a professor of heat transfer, among other things. So, what if the plastic is used since the heat won’t transfer as easily to it as to metal. Therefore, the plastic knife slips through thte hot brownie with less drag. Hmm. Maybe I’ll present him with that challange . 8-)

  4. I’d love to do a Tahoe Supper Club reunion. And of course I remember Tommy. He was there the trip we came up with that weird composite of our names: Jen-Ste-To-Sta-Sam. Huh? We were so weird! (and why do I still remember that?)

  5. I like that your son generously offered to test this theory out for you :). Hmmm maybe I need to do some more testing myself. I like the explanation though — I’m going with it!

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