WND – Recipes & Advanced MathSeptember 17, 2010
When they teach you things in school they never tell you why they’re going to be useful. I think this is a failing. I mean, I was the kind of kid who generally speaking liked school, and was never particularly averse to learning things just because, but even I might have been more enthusiastic about certain subjects if they’d been prefaced with some kind of practical application.
Granted, I never needed a real world application for learning about post Enlightenment revolutions in Eastern Europe or reading Jane Austen. This is probably a good thing because I’m not sure that 10th grade me would have been convinced by the argument that I would desperately need to know 19th C European geography in order to read a newspaper one day. I might have been on board with the idea that learning how to parse an English text would stand me in good stead for critical readings of Ethan Allen commercials and the problematic racial narratives of wildly lucrative, if not very good, movies in later years. Then again in 9th grade I didn’t pepper my conversation with words like agency, heteronormative and paradigm, so maybe not. I did, however, use words like parse, because see above about being that kind of kid.
Anything that involved math of any description, on the other hand, was an entirely different story. It’s possible that if I’d been given a practical application for math beyond, ‘well one day you might want to be an architect’ I might have been more interested, because even at 10 I knew nobody wanted me building bridges. If anyone had framed chemistry as the foundation of baking, it’s possible I might have cared about moles and Avogadro’s constant. I mean, I probably still wouldn’t have understood them, but I might have cared more about not understanding them as opposed to just being endlessly frustrated.
Equally, if someone had phrased mental arithmetic as useful for calculating the tip in a restaurant, and dividing a check by six without having to pull out a phone to do it, the quiz every morning in 5th grade might have seemed like it had a point. Although I’m willing to admit that at age 10 I might not have had the foresight to understand how important being able to calculate tip in my head would be in eight years. More relevantly to this week’s activities, if someone had presented geometry as chiefly useful for calculating the areas of baking dishes I might have seen a practical reason to memorize my times tables and the area of a circle.
Rather than word problems that involved trains leaving stations, or llamas floating across rivers (I had a physics teacher who liked using llamas as teaching examples, don’t ask me why), you could have baking problems that involved basic algebra, fractions and decimals.
For example, ‘what do you have to divide by if you have a recipe that bakes in a 9×13 pan, and you want to scale it down to fit an 8×8 pan?’ Answer? Almost exactly a half, except that the full 9×13 recipe calls for 3 eggs, so I made 2/3 of the recipe so that I could use 2 eggs rather than having to split an egg. So then you can have everyone do fractions to figure out what 2/3 of ¼ tsp of salt is (technically 1/6 tsp, practically speaking a large pinch), and how to multiply 2.25 oz by 2/3.
Mind you, I voiced this opinion to a coworker who looked dubious and said that his wife would probably have gotten on board with that word problem, but he wouldn’t have been interested unless it involved football statistics (at which point my boss walked past, did a double take and came back to ask if he was really talking to me about football). And the moral of this story is that gender stereotypes are sometimes true in real life, and always true in my office.
Roasted Corn on the Cob
Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches
Recipe previously given: Etiquette Lessons of Dubious Merit
Roasted Corn on the Cob
Recipe previously given: The Chalice from the Palace
Tomatoes / Salad / Melon
Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches
There’s a quick and dirty version of this dessert, and then there’s the more involved it’s-a-birthday-so-I’ll-take-the-time-and-bake version of this dessert. Both are tasty, because really how far wrong can you go with brownies and ice cream?
The quick and dirty version is take a box of brownie mix, assemble as directed, bake in two layers (or in a 9×13 pan and cut in half lengthwise), spread ice cream in the middle, stack and freeze.
The more complicated version involving insanely good home made brownies (recipe courtesy of our friend the pastry chef) is below. And I should say, I almost never make real brownies because Ghirardelli makes excellent brownie mix and it involves a lot fewer dishes and I can keep it in my cupboard for chocolate emergencies, but this recipe is totally worth the dishes and remembering to buy chocolate. This is mostly because it’s made of chocolate, eggs and sugar held together with a dusting of flour, so basically it’s fudge masquerading as a baked good.
And, if you’re going to go to the effort of melting chocolate and getting out your mixer to beat eggs to a thick ribbon, splurge and get the really good ice cream to go in the middle. And when I say the good stuff, I mean the ice cream that makes you make inappropriate noises when you lick it off the spoon.
Full Regular Brownie Recipe (9”x13” pan)
¾ cup (6 oz) unsalted butter
1 lb bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
¾ cup + 2 Tbsp (4.5 oz) all purpose flour
2 cups (14 oz) light brown sugar, lightly packed
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Remove from the heat and add the
chocolate. If the heat from the butter does not fully melt the chocolate, put the pan back
over the heat for 10 seconds and stir until melted. Set aside to cool.
Sift the flour into a small mixing bowl. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Using a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until the mixture thickens and becomes pale in color and falls from the beater in a wide ribbon that folds back on itself and slowly dissolves on the surface, 4 to 5 minutes. Alternatively, use a mixing bowl and a whisk to beat the ingredients until the mixture falls from the whisk in a wide ribbon.
Using a rubber spatula, fold the cooled chocolate into the egg mixture. Add the flour and fold it in quickly but gently with the rubber spatula so that you don’t deflate the air that’s been incorporated into the eggs.
Pout the batter into the prepared dish and smooth the top with the spatula. Bake until the top looks slightly cracked and feels soft to the touch, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
The brownies will keep in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 1 week.
Ice Cream Brownie Sandwich Variation (8”x8” pan)
The original recipe for this calls for halving the above recipe (only with slightly less (2.25 oz) flour, and 3 eggs) and then baking it in two 9×13 layers. There were only 5 people at Dinner this week and I don’t need the temptation of a half a pan of leftover brownie ice cream sandwiches sitting in my freezer so I made 2/3 of the recipe in an 8”x8” pan.
Technically an 8”x8” pan will make half of a recipe designed for a 9”x13” pan. However, that would require splitting an egg in half and making 2/3 of the recipe so I could use 2 eggs seemed easier. They make very thin layers, so I actually can’t quite imagine how thin the layer would have been for half the recipe and I’m glad I upped it to 2/3.
4 Tbsp (2 oz) unsalted butter
5.33 oz bittersweet chocolate
1.5 oz all purpose flour
2 large eggs
2/3 cup (4.67 oz) light brown sugar, lightly packed)
Generous pinch salt
1/3 tsp vanilla
Butter an 8×8 baking dish. Line it with a parchment sling, butter and then flour the baking dish with cocoa powder.
Follow the directions for making the batter as above.
Divide the batter in half, and spread each half in a prepared baking dish, smoothing the surface with an offset spatula or the back of a large spoon. Bake until the top looks slightly cracked and feels soft to the touch, 10-13 minutes (check at 10 minutes). If you only have one 8×8 baking dish, bake one layer at a time, allowing the brownie to cool before removing from the baking dish.
Let cool to room temperature in the baking dishes on wire racks, then turn out onto the wire racks to continue to cooling completely.
To make the sandwiches, let 1-1 ½ pints ice cream sit at room temperature just long enough to become spreadable. Line an 8×8 baking dish or pan with plastic wrap, allowing enough overhang to cover the top of the sandwich completely when it is assembled. Place 1 brownie layer, top side down, in the lined dish. Scoop the ice cream out onto the brownie and spread evenly and quickly with a rubber spatula or an offset metal spatula. Top with the second brownie layer, top side up , and gently and evenly press down on the second layer. Fold the plastic wrap over the top, covering completely. Using a square plate or a book, press down with firm, even pressure to distribute ice cream evenly. Freeze for at least 3 hours or overnight.
The sandwiches will keep, well wrapped, in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.