Mary Beth Writes

These are things I thought about this week:

1. I am a person who has to use self-discipline to not bake cookies and desserts ALL THE TIME. I can go from “Hmm, brownies would be tasty” to made-from-scratch brownies in my mouth a half hour later.

Every strength - is also a weakness - is also a strength.

Here’s my brownie recipe from a Lutheran cookbook I impulse bought at McDonald’s Bakery in my hometown in the middle 1980’s when we were visiting my mom. I made these so often the cookbook fell apart at this recipe, so I threw the rest of the book away and just kept this.

Chewy Brownies

1 c sugar

¼ c butter (that’s half a stick)

½ teaspoon vanilla but honestly, what’s a half teaspoon? Use a teaspoon…

2 eggs

4 Tablespoons cocoa

3/4 c flour

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8x8” pan. Mix the ingredients – but Friends – mix it the way Meg mixes it. (Hi, Meg.) Put the butter in a mixing bowl – your stand mixer if you have one. Pour in the sugar and then beat that butter-sugar into a pale slurry; it will take 2-3 minutes. Then add the eggs and vanilla. Then the flour and cocoa. At this point you can add ½ cup nuts or dried fruit.

Bake about 20 minutes - until a fork stuck in the middle comes out without crumbs attached.

You can double this to bake in a 9x13” pan. IMHO you should always double this, give most of them away – but keep the end rows for yourself and your beloved.

 

2. Entitled white people trying to subvert the right of people of color to vote – there is NOTHING about this that is new. This nation is still at the work our Founding Fathers couldn’t, wouldn’t, and didn’t do.

For 32 of the first 36 years of our republic’s history, our presidency was occupied by slave-owning Virginians. That is: Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe. Only John Adams, from Boston, did not own enslaved people and he was only president one term.

You know about the 3/5’s “compromise”, right? Cue 1787. The south would not join the north to form a competent federal government unless and until the south had parity with the north. There were far more white people in the north (there were black enslaved people, too, but not as many). The southerners said they needed equal representation, so they wanted to count each enslaved person as 3/5 of one person (and never allow a black person to vote). That way white southerners would have as much representation as the more populous north. That ugly compromise existed until the Civil War. To mentally justify this travesty - white people had to continually convince themselves that they were better and more worthy than black people.

So this is where I am.

How do privileged people disenfranchise themselves from bad thinking? What needs to happen to allow people to understand what from their heritage is worth keeping and what needs to be chucked and burned?

The next chapter I am wading through is about the intertwining of the Second Great Awakening and abolition. Because sometimes religion entitles us be mean and wrong. Other times religion wakes us up and softens our hearts and enlightens our lives.

Boy, what a question. How does Religion affect How We Regard Others?

The book I’m (still) reading is These Truth, a History of the United States by Jill Lepore. Although the facts I stated above are widely known.

 

3. This week I read two books to the third graders. The first was Dragons Like Tacos 2: The Sequel by Adam Rubin/Illus. by Daniel Salmierie. The kids love this funny book about passionate dragons who time travel to find a taco to plant in the current time, in order to harvest tacos from the taco trees. The kids giggled and laughed. It was fun to read to them.

Then I read Our Gracie Aunt by Jacqueline Woodson. This story will break your heart. A mom abandons her two kids – it’s pretty easy to intuit this is about addiction in parents. Child Protective services takes the kids to an aunt’s house to stay. At one point the kids get to visit their mom in either jail or her treatment program. Woodson writes this story with honesty, respect, and compassion. The kids I read to recognized what’s happening. The kids were absolutely quiet and sitting at full attention, eyes and ears on the pictures in the book.

I remember being a kid. It was so rare to be given stories and images that reflected my world. I lived in security and I also lived in constant fear of the mercurial feelings of adults around me. I could have used more honest and compassionate books.

It’s so powerful to tell a child, “I see you. Some parts of your life are very hard. You are good.”

4. Only Karen sent a happy, spring, Easter photo - but what a doozy it is. She and her siblings and mother are together again, after this long, long year. Hi, Joan!

 

Comments

I have recently started baking brownies from scratch. Boy, are they good and fast and easy! A group from my church has been meeting ( on Zoom) to discuss white privilege and racial bias. Not too much is eye opening as I was raised in the south and graduated high school in 1966. I know waaaay too much about the in-your-face stuff! We may meet with some young adults who grew up here in our part of VT and find out what we need to work on locally. Inadvertent racism is still racism and hurts people. Peace

I printed off your brownie recipe. Good read - love the picture.
Leonard's picture

Give away the edges, the middle ones are chewey and good.

I made brownies today from your recipe. I was sceptical that the recipe would work with no baking powder, baking soda, or salt, but they turned out great. No crunchy edges if baked 18 minutes. Thanks for the recipe!
Mary Beth's picture

I was suspicious of the same thing. To this day, I sometimes check the recipe twice to see if I should have including baking powder - but nope, they work. Those Lutheran ladies knew their way around dessert

Beat it!
Mary Beth's picture

Her very Meg-ness Herself! Empress of Amazing Baked Goods...

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Three Things 9/11/2021

The photo is from a trip to Arizona that Len and I took several years ago. His employer had said he had to take vacation time.  We sat here in our office not knowing where to go or what to do; it came up that fast. We looked up cheap flights from Milwaukee,; Phoenix popped up for $150 round trip. That was how we decided.

Of course, we rented a car and stayed in motels and ate in restaurants so no, it wasn’t a $300 vacation.

Three Things 9/3/2021

1. This morning I was texting with Franc about our heritages. He was born and raised in the Midwest although his ancestors are from Puerto Rico. Being the child of children of a Caribbean Island means he probably has Taino DNA as well as African and European. Heck, he probably has Phoenician and Viking and Pacific Islander because island people and sailors have always thought each other cute.

Three Things 9/2/2021

Regarding Texas: I’m so angry today.

From The Buried: An Archeology of the Egyptian Revolution by Peter Hessler

Hessler is making a case that a significant reason for the failure of Egyptian governments is because citizens are not looking for competent political leaders. They vote for men who lambast the “corruption and immorality” of present leaders. They vote for those who promise a “return to our traditional Islamist values.”

Three Things 8/25/2021

One:

Where did these damn fruit flies come from? I borrowed a 400-page book from the library yesterday and just finished it an hour ago. ONE fruit fly bumped me every twenty minutes through the whole damn tome. I hit at it every time it zipped past but I never zapped it.

I’ll get him (or her?). I put an inch of apple cider vinegar into a glass, covered it with plastic wrap, punched some tiny holes, set it next to our fruit.

Bugs bug me.

Two:

Is it really August already?

I woke up this morning feeling wistful. It’s the third week of August. Where did this summer go?

I have not ridden my bike even once (there are giant construction trucks all over my favorite route). We’ve hardly entertained friends at our Bistro (the apron of the garage that I painted last year). We’ve not traveled other than to see our kids. My six tomato plants are producing an unenergetic number of tomatoes. Didn’t see the Perseids. Didn’t serve umbrella drinks by our pool. Oh wait, we don’t have a pool.

Len is Raising $ for the MAAC Fund Again

About this photo: these are the four guys who first started riding together, years ago. Jack heard about the MACC fund, so they all did it together. Last year, out riding one fine day for the fun and exercise of it, Tom, the tall guy, suffered a terrible accident and passed away. Sometimes when they ride together now, Tom's humorous and kind spirit accompanies them. 

...

This is the MACC Fund  https://maccfund.org/

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