I'm really glad I got a job because suddenly all of this happened:
Car Repair: $450, and that's the You've Been Our Customer For 8 Years rate. What with house hunting I cannot afford to buy a car, so I am doing everything in my power to keep my 11-year old Hyundai running. I take it in every few months for a check-up so that mid-adventure on the highway it doesn't explode in a ball of fire and trap me in the burning wreckage of fiery steel.
It's not a huge concern. Sorta. Really, the damn machine is just getting old. Every time I take it in they discover another piece is more decrepit than an empty Blockbuster Video. Soon it'll need a bed pan and hospice care just so I can drive myself to the nearby gun store to buy some shells for when I have to take the poor girl out back and shoot it between the eyes to put it out of its misery.
IACP Conference: $841 and 'eff all cents. Or is that sense? Sometimes I wonder if it would be cheaper to just mail IACP my debit card and tell them to do what they must for the good of my career. "Here you go. Use it wisely. Just be sure not to spend it all on beluga caviar served off a Scandinavian hooker's bone-white tits. Oh, and see if you can leave enough so I can pay my phone bill. Thanks."
I've never been, but everyone who goes tells me it's a networking orgy lubed up with champagne and the sparkling names of famous writers and chefs. Each year I have regretted not attending and therefore I plan to remedy that so as not be sallow and bitter when I hear a friend had drinks with Dana Cowin and, oh, she wants to see some of their work.
Health Insurance: Oof. Do I really have to say anything? My new job does not offer health benefits so I'm hunting for sub par insurance. I would hop on husband's military benefits, but because of DOMA I can't. Oh, and because of Prop 8. Thanks, conservatives, for boning me out of a lot more of my paycheck because you have an antiquated moral issue with who I enjoy going to the movies with. Aren't Republicans supposed to be against this kind of barging into people's personal lives and screwing around with an individual's take home pay?
Shoes: $45. I've had my old shoes - delightful pair of mocha-suede Pumas - since 2003. They fit like they were a soft, tattered second skin. Sadly, I finally put a hole through the finely worn down sole of one, which isn't surprising considering the rubber is only three millimeters thick. Their final trek was when I went hiking in a swamp in the middle of nowhere at 4 A.M. (which, apparently, is a thing now) to hunt ducks. I had no hiking shoes so these things were irreparable suede mud clogs at the end of this ordeal.
So I finally purchased a replacement pair, which was agonizing. I picked up another pair of Pumas that, I admit, I have some reservations about since the company's sweatshops kill more foreigners than malaria, but they do hold up for decades and I don't like change when it comes to footwear.
Wow, that sounds horribly selfish.
Alas, my TOMS just don't keep my feet all that warm in the winter...
Massage: $40 + tip. Hey, it's been a stressful week. My back is a Gordian knot no sword could pierce. I needed this. Don't judge me.
With all this sudden spending it can be a real benefit to know how to cook. It's cheaper than going out and often much tastier and healthier. These brownies are no exception except in the healthy arena because, duh, they're brownies. Accept the fatty goodness.
So there's a lot of "THE BEST" recipes out there. Especially when it comes to things like brownies. The universe (read: the Internet) probably can't withstand another one, but I'm tossing my coin in the pond anyways in hopes that perhaps it and you, its denizens, might take my word on this one.
These are the best brownies. Really.
Here's what, I'm a snob for brownies and not in a way that I generally boast about. I don't care about cocoa nibs, or 99% raw cacao, or heirloom eggs or your special brownie edge pan (okay, that last one I kinda do and must have it).
My favorite tasting brownies are the ones from the box. Period.
It's what I grew up with so that texture and flavor is what I want from my brownies. You people, you people, who melt chopped chocolate with your butter, infuse milk with cinnamon, and spike it with coffee can all suck it. Keep your fancy brownies dense as tax law and so fudgy they might as well be frickin' fudge. I don't want them.
I want a toothsome body, crackly top, and lots of cocoa powder. Betty Crocker, bitches.
Which is why I am so, so happy I found a recipe that tastes EXACTLY like boxed brownies, but without the polysyllabic chemicals that make me fear to break out my old college chemistry texts.
This is simply the Best Cocoa Brownie recipe from Epicurious. It's not mine. All I did was add more vanilla and some nut meal. By the by, I've used walnut meal, hazelnut, almond and they all work. They add that extra bit of resistance to the bite of the brownie and give it a subtle layer of flavor. I can't imagine ever making another brownie recipe (except this one if you need a brownie that will travel).
I suppose we could argue over the cost of cocoa powder and hazelnut meal, but when you can make about 8 batches once you've bought the ingredients you're looking at a few cents per brownie. That's some mighty delicious math there. It's also way cheaper than your health insurance.
Makes 9 brownies
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
large pinch salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup nut meal
1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Heavily butter and line the bottom and sides of a 9x9 or 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
2. Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture has a molten texture to it and flows thickly. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is warm to the touch.
3. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and nut meal and stir together.
4. Spread evenly in the lined pan. Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 25 to 30 minutes. If you overcook it a bit don't fret. Let cool completely on a rack. Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 9 squares.
Other Recipes That Don't Suck
Care Package Brownies - Leite's Culinaria
Brownie Covered Oreos - Picky Palate
Brownie Pancakes - Inspired Taste