Friday, January 06, 2006


The first thing I ever baked, I think, was a pan of Betty Crocker's (R) instant Brownie Mix. Perhaps this is why, in my mind, Betty Crocker's brownies are the ultimate in brownies. Foolproof (as long as you remember that Japanese ovens are on the C, and not F, temperature scale), chocolatey, chewy, quick, and cheap, it doesn't get any better.

So I should have just left it at that, but I can't stand the fact that I can't make a better brownie from scratch. I'm no food snob, as everyone knows. The first restaurant I recommend to foreigners visiting Tokyo is KFC. However. You don't want to know what's in these insta-bake packets. For instance, the other day I was looking for a recipe for Buffalo Wings on the Internet at 3 am. A crucial ingredient in those things is a spooky item called Liquid Smoke. EW!

Anyway, to make a long story short, I made brownies the other day. A slightly grown-up version, involving dark bittersweet chocolate and some leftover Kahlua. They turned out okay. They were too cakey for me to classify them as brownies. A few more tries and I will give up on brownies for good. (Side note: just remembered, The Pink Cow makes awesome brownies. Wonder if that's Betty Crocker too.)

That was a bummer. Believing (mistakenly) that a movie would cheer me up, I saw "La Marche de l'Emperateur". All creatures being created equal and all, yadda yadda, aside, penguins are seriously stupid animals. That, or the narrators just made them appear that way. There were 3 voices: male, female, and child, and they would say the most redundant, pseudo-poetic, ambiguous things. As if that weren't bad enough, they would echo each other, so you'd hear the dumb-a** comment not once, but 2 or even 3 times. It was as if they were saying the first thing that came to mind, just to hear themselves parlent francais. Didn't that movie win an award? Anyway, je ne l'aime pas.

Good news is, I'm making some respectable progress on my children's book. Very exciting! I would love nothing more than to have a post called "MY PUBLISHING DEAL!" on this blog. P.S. I'm on page 3 of my rough draft. Don't hold your breath.

*Update, 7 January: The older my grown-up brownies get, the chewier they become. Either the brownies just needed to "rest", or I developed a penchant for mould and staleness after years of eating dodgy leftovers. But really, I think people are a bit over-cautious about expiration dates and things like raw eggs. Go ahead. Have some germs. It's good for your immune system.


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