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!