Brisk air fills a cold, dimly-lit room. Layers of warm, freshly washed blankets are pulled up and wrapped around a lethargic body. The buzz of a phone vibrating, sliding on a night stand falls on deaf ears as a snoozed alarm ceases to call out in the silent room. Rays of golden light peaking through poorly closed blinds showcase a ballet of dancing dust; their beams poke and prod at tightly closed eyes. Desires for one more dream and lingering moments in a warm bed turn one snooze into many. An alarm is turned off.
Rays of light become more persistant. Sleeping in begins to lose its appeal. I sit up, keeping the warm blankets wrapped tightly around my cozy body. I trade closed eyes and surreal dreams for old pages and favorite stories. Pages pull me into a familiar story as the morning flows by without a thought of responsibility, tasks or to-dos.
I brave the cold air and leave my warm sanctuary only once to fetch coffee and a morning treat. Too lazy to make eggs and bacon or a short stack of pancakes, I reach for my guilty pleasure, dessert from last night. Sitting, begging underneath a glass dome is a stack of molasses blondies. Cross sections of chopped walnut stand out against the golden caramel colored blocks. I snatch a couple to take with me back to my bed. A second thought, a desire to spend the day relaxing and reading, has me grab the rest of the blondies–just in case.
Just two years ago, a day spent in bed reading would be the last thing on my mind. Being the a-type I am, I saw college as a chance to not only support the causes I loved but to stand out from the rest–in true American fashion it became a competition between me and my a-type friends. They sat on a student organization board; I sat on two and a faculty council board. They chaired a student-rights committee; I chaired three. They interned at a media company; I led PR & marketing for Apple’s higher education sales at UT and ran the gay-night at an Austin bar. They ran against me for President of the Comm School’s largest organization and won; So I founded Texas’ first gay fraternity and soon my biography was published in Philip Gambone’s Travels in a Gay Nation. Somehow I still managed to throw some killer parties in West Campus–mostly out of necessity to stay sane.
My life was Party Monster meets Wall Street–minus the crookery, murder and jail time. In college, my work ethic looked like this: 18 hours of work each day, then 2 hours of hardcore partying, then 4 hours of sleep. I did this six days a week for five years. I burnt myself out–not to mention killed my liver–and quickly decided the business man work ethic was maybe not the route for me. Now, I still have just as many titles under my name in my email signature but I’ve found a happy medium between work and play. I work four days a week and leave plenty of time for my cooking and for time that I can’t define easily–we’ll call it me time.
I love wasting time with frivolous activities. I love doing things for no reason other than for the joy of the activity. I love letting a lunch take three hours. And while I haven’t fully let go of my A-typeness I have come closer to reducing my chances of coronary heart disease and other stress related inflictions that may put me in a box sooner than I’d like.
These brownies may help with any lingering stress you may have as well. Molasses is perfect at giving a recipe that distinctly sweet and pungent flavor–a calling card for the south. You know a southerner when you meet one and you know a dessert with molasses in it when you taste one. These molasses blondies are like us southerners and our outlook on life. They’re meant to be savored and enjoyed. The flavor is strong but not obnoxious or overpowering. They’re pleasant and a stack of them are inviting to the eyes–and tummy. I got this recipe from my mom, who hates to bake so if she can make this a cat can too–no offense mom. She adapted it from a traditional blondie recipe from Whipped.
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
8 ounces (2 sticks) butter, melted
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts
1. Preheat an oven to 350°F. Line a 8×13 inch baking pan with foil (bottom and sides).
2. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a bowl.
3. Mix the sugar and butter together. Add the molasses and mix until incorporated. Add each egg one at a time and mix until blended. Add the vanilla and stir in.
4. Stir in the flour mixture until it is just incorporated. Add the walnuts and stir until evenly distributed.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
6. Bake for 20 to 25 minute minutes until they are set in the center and a toothpick comes out dirty, but not runny or wet.
7. Let the blondies cool before inverting the pan onto a plate. Lift the pan, then remove the foil (I invert the brownies again so the pretty baked side face up).