B is for Brownies. I published this recipe on my old blog about eighteen months ago. I only have a few old ABCs entries left to publish, and playing the game—even if only by myself—means I will be following the order of the letters of the alphabet from this point on when I create new entries for this series.
I’d been planning to create a collage to accompany my brownie recipe for quite some time, but only after I found a suitable shrunken-man source image was I able to figure out the sort of photos I wanted to take of my brownies; so the image you see above is of my window, of a curtain I sewed years ago, and of brownies I baked. I think this is the first collage I’ve published that include raw images I created, instead of stealing downloading them from the Internet.
- 7 T. butter
- 1 c. sugar
- 1 t. vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/3 c. cocoa
- 1/2 t. aluminum-free baking powder
- 1/4 t. sea salt
- 1/2 c. chopped, toasted walnuts
- Heat oven to 350° degrees. If you have a toaster oven then you don’t have to heat up the entire kitchen to make these.
Grease and flour a small pan of any shape.
In a food processor, combine butter and sugar until well mixed.
Add vanilla and mix until incorporated.
Add eggs and mix until well blended-
-Or add it all at the same time, for all I care. The result is the same when I blend it all lovingly and in order than when I dump it all in the processor (I do recommend mixing the butter and sugar first), nuts last, and pour into pan.
- Bake for about fifteen minutes. Don’t overbake, or you’ll end up making chocolate rock.
Cool, cut into sixteen pieces, and eat one with your sweetie before you kiss him/her. Brownie breath is a guaranteed shrinking potion. It only works on men, of course.
If I receive one single philistine comment about how baking is women’s work, I’ll crush ya like a twig and snap ya like a bug. :)
* * *
As I chose the elements for the collage above, a scene played in my head. Some will understand when I tell you that events between a shrunken man and a woman don’t always have to include sexual activities. Daily routine can become their prelude, and activities such as visiting, making friends, listening to music, cleaning the house, etc., can lay the foundation for an emotional state ripe with the right kind of tension.
In this case, the emotion I use to color interaction is a deep sense of trust combined with size-related frustration. A man that shrinks to a mere few inches in height will remember a time his wife might have baked him brownies, and he would have polished the entire plate as he watched TV, later burning those calories in the yard, or in the bedroom.
He will recall there was a time he could have closed his hand around his wife’s delicate wrist when the doorbell rang announcing relatively unwanted visitors, and he could have pulled her into his arms as he whispered, “Let’s pretend we are not home, and maybe they’ll go away….”
There is a weight pressing on him that has nothing to do with his wife’s finger or toe; a heavy feeling of helplessness as he watches his life shrink and be absorbed by his mate’s actions. The only thing that rescues him from despair is the absolute trust he feels in his beloved. It carries him as safely as her hand during moments when it seems even the air he breathes is something she allows him to have and can take away if she so desired it; those times when his responses to disappointment regress to a child-like state; those instances when events slip away as he’s shown a shrunken man may control only that ever-changing sphere the woman that loves him declares his province; those times such as these….
“They are mine,” he said, his hips pressing possessively against the brownie closest to his hips, the one sandwiched in the middle of the stack. That tiny thrust was almost imperceptible given his size, and he seemed too angry to have meant it to be seductive, but his naked body was glued to those baked goods as though they were some sort of salvation; and that moist, warm brownie molded like clay to the shape of his body sent her thoughts adrift to other times he had moved similarly against her body.
“Honey, I can bake you more brownies after they leave, ” she said placatingly. She could see wet chocolate stains beginning to spread onto his torso and his delicious thighs, and forced herself to look away from his midriff, up to his chocolate-colored eyes. He looked good enough to eat, and he would probably taste delicious at the moment, but that sort of fun would have to wait until they were alone in the house again.
She looked over her shoulder at the bedroom door and listened to her friends chatting in the living room. Again his voice, as diminished in volume as it now was, seemed to somehow get louder. She faced him again as he stood next to the brownies on the plate.
“I don’t want different brownies later; I want these, and I want them now!” his words ended with the whine of a child threatened by willpower much greater than his own. “You baked them for me. I’ve been waiting for you to bake me these brownies for weeks! You are going to have to give them something else to eat.” He stretched his arm along the edge of the top brownie, and his little fingers clasped it greedily. They hadn’t been out of the oven very long, but he didn’t seem to mind their warmth.
“Unfortunately I can’t help the whole house smelling like them, darling. If I had known they were coming I would have baked a double batch. Sweetie, be reasonable! You are too small to eat them all anyway! One of these little squares would last you a month- alright, a week, the way you eat sometimes.” She threw him a playful smile, but he didn’t return it.
“They should have called you first, before butting in and interrupting our weekend!”
Beginning to feel a touch of annoyance, she sighed and watched his hair be blown back by a gust of wind she had created. “Sweetie, this is the South. People don’t do that. They expect to be able to drop by casually and be served iced tea and comfort food in an impeccable home. They expect impromptu politeness and hospitality at the drop of a hat.”
“But you are Hispanic. They can’t expect you to behave that way.” He realized immediately he had put his little foot in his mouth when her lips tightened, and when he spoke again, his voice was little more than a squeak.
“Tell them they can’t have-”
“What do you mean ‘they can’t expect me to behave that way’? And do you see me doing that? Do you really think I’m going to go back out there and tell them ‘Sorry ladies, my tiny shrunken husband is a greedy, selfish baby, and he refuses to yield even a single brownie square. We’ll have to scavenge the fridge for any leftover Chinese food that hasn’t turned, and whatever cheese we can slice away from mold we can put on Ritz crackers.”
His gaze, no longer blazing with anger, dropped for a moment.
“Well, er… um-” He shook his head softly, sinking his chin into the brownie corner the heat of his body had rounded out. His fingers dug into the still warm mass of chocolate like fish hooks, as though he could still prevent her from taking the plate away from him.
“I’m offering my friends these brownies, and there isn’t a thing you can do about it. They will stay in my house for as long as they wish, and they will eat anything they want from my fridge. And after they leave I’ll come back here and we’ll have a long conversation about your manners, and your small place in the grand scheme of my things.”
She reached for the plate, and he barely had time to jump off it and onto the bedside table where the stack- his stack of brownies had been cooling off. His pressed lips turned into a pout as he watched her walk away with them in hand.
Only now did he begin to realize there might not be any sort of sweetness headed his way this Saturday night if he didn’t work his way to her good graces. He looked down at his body. Almost the entire front of it was painted brown with melted brownie marks. He thought they could be useful.
Careful not to accidentally wipe clean any of it, he sat on the lamp base. In the distance, in the living room that felt as though it was a town away, he could hear laughter and womanly conversation, interrupted by moans of culinary appreciation as his wife’s friends devoured his brownies.
Alone, he waited.
* * *
And here‘s the example file, the way I initially composed the image. There isn’t that much difference between the former and the latter.