You must believe me–I had no intention of baking brownies when I awoke this morning. After a rainy workweek, I spent this past beautiful, balmy weekend tidying the house, hiking with my dog, watching a Harry Potter movie with my family, and making wholesome meals. But sometime during the night the rain returned and when I opened the door for the morning dog walk, I was greeted by a wet, dreary Monday. Even then, the thought of brownies hadn’t entered my mind.
This evening, when I picked up my son from his fall break day camp, he asked to go to Toys R Us. No, I said. He then asked to go to the nearby artisanal coffeehouse for vegan chocolate cake. Again, no. It was still drizzling and darkening, with the days growing shorter by the minute, and I just wanted to get home, get the dog walked, and get into my pajamas. I suppose I could have fallen back on that old parental chesnut and told him that we weren’t going to the coffeehouse house for chocolate cake because it would spoil his dinner, and left it at that. Instead, in spite of my better judgment, I suggested that I might be willing to scrape together something chocolatey at home.
My first impulse was to conjure the near-instant gratification of the microwaved vegan brownie in a bowl. Then, after further questioning my parenting, I decided that I should look up this delicious, lower-sugar brownie recipe I’d made once before (it calls for the optional use of instant coffee–I either eliminated the instant coffee or substituted Caffix, I can’t recall which). But I couldn’t remember the name of the website and didn’t feel like poking around trying to locate it just then. So I pulled my trusty copy of Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s The Joy of Vegan Baking from the shelf and made these delectably sweet (to the tune of 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar), moist, chewy brownies.
Of course, I used the crummy weather and the fact that it was Monday–a perfectly fine Monday, mind you–compounded by the plaintive cries of my offspring, to justify baking these cocoalicious confections. Had it been sunny and Tuesday, I might have let the craving pass like the shape-shifting cloud I knew it to be. And as I was driving home and contemplating this sad state of affairs, the Carpenters’ “Rainy Days and Mondays” crawled into my consciousness, where it lingers still. These are brownies born of manufactured melancholia and self-recrimination. To enjoy them properly, put on your neck-straining, oversized, padded headphones and play this while you eat one. Or two. Or more.
On another note, it pains me to confess that I am still reading, fitfully, Louise Penny’s Still Life. It’s a really good story, truly it is, but for some reason I haven’t been able to find the time to sit down and read it all in one go. I’ve just gotten to the part where Chief Inspector Gamache has identified the killer–or has he? I’m only a little over halfway through, so I have a feeling the plot is about to twist. I did, however, manage to sneak in the tiny Lyra’s Oxford, a short story sequel to Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, over the weekend. Lyra’s Oxford, a toothsome morsel of a book, allowed me to get a taste of Pullman’s work while indulging my love of the title city (the slim volume includes a foldout map of Oxford–Lyra’s, that is: a mix of factual and fictive geography). I’d been delaying reading His Dark Materials until my son was old enough for it, and I’m hoping it will be next in line once he finishes the Harry Potter books.