If you read my previous post on the subject of cooking, you already know that I dislike cooking. I am not good at multitasking in the kitchen, and am generally unable to prepare multiple dishes so that everything is done at the same time. If I must cook something, I tend to prefer things in the hotdish family because at least everything is guaranteed to be done at the same time. Excellent cooking requires a great deal finesse and creativity, two things which ellude me in the kitchen. Baking, on the other hand, is simple for me. All you have to do is follow the instructions. You throw everything in a bowl, mix it up, pour it into a pan, and cook it for a pre-determined amount of time. You don’t have to stand over the stove stirring occasionally, adding things here and there, adjusting temperatures, and so on. Essentially, you just set it and forget it.
One of my favorite recipes as a kid was my mom’s blonde brownies – simple to prepare, and always delicious. They are even simpler now that I have a stand mixer – when I was a kid, I always had to ask my mom to stir in the flour because my little arms couldn’t quite move the spoon once the dough got thick. Recently Ian sent me a link to a healthier version of the dessert, so I thought I would give it a try. Saturday evening when my daughter and I were home alone, we set out to make the healthy bars.
First step, gather all the ingredients and make sure you have what you need. Nothing ruins the enjoyment of baking faster than realizing I’m missing something halfway through adding ingredients to the bowl. Having learned a valuable lesson after the chicken mushroom pancake incident, I double-checked the labels to make sure I had the correct ingredients. The only item that brought me pause was the flaxseed. We hadn’t used flax in a recipe for ages so I wasn’t positive that what I had was flaxseed but I smelled it, and didn’t notice anything unusual. It looked exactly like flaxseed, so it must be flaxseed. I also couldn’t think what else it could possibly be. My daughter’s job was to read me the ingredients while I measured them, and then she would add them to the mixer.
1-1/2 cups chickpeas, rinsed. CHECK.
3/4 cup brown sugar. CHECK.
1/4 cup ground flax. CHECK. (I think).
3/4 teaspoon baking soda. CHECK.
1/8 teaspoon baking soda. CHECK.
Did you just say baking soda again? We just added baking soda!
So I looked at the recipe. NO, that was supposed to be 3/4 teaspoon baking POWDER. Now what? I don’t understand the chemistry of recipes, and have no idea what would happen if you put too much baking soda in your bars, but it was impossible to remove it so we just added 3/4 teaspoon of baking powder and pushed on, adding the rest of the ingredients and mixing. It was at this point I finally realized the instruction to “blend ingredients until smooth” was not just a matter of semantics. We were supposed to mix it in a blender, because otherwise the chickpeas would never ever get smooth. Unfortunately, we don’t own a blender. Damn. I mixed it the best we could with our stand mixer, but the batter was still chunky. Alright, I said, I’ll just taste it. Maybe it doesn’t matter if it’s perfectly smooth.
And that was when I learned that what I had been convinced was flax seed was in fact some kind of salt & spice mixture. It was the nastiest food concoction I had ever tasted. Though it made me sad to waste the food, I just dumped it out.
I suppose I will try again another day, this time using actual flax seed and maybe even a blender, but for now I will just enjoy the regular, non-healthy variety of blond brownies I made Sunday afternoon.