Monday, October 15, 2007


I'm so excited! After we bought this house, with the great view and the fabulous porches, I started picturing long tables out on the upper porch, surrounded by an eclectic group of interesting people. Maybe we'd get together about once a month, to have one of those Tuscan-style feasts - the kind where everyone arrives mid-afternoon, each bringing a special dish based on what's in season or made or grown locally. We would sit down to eat late-afternoon, and we'd stay there eating, visiting, laughing and sipping wine, until after the sun goes down. Then perhaps we would adjourn to the outdoor fire-pit for coffee and more laughter. Well, the first official front-porch-feast is about to take place! Paula and Tim are coming to stay with us on the 10th, and Mark and Ann will be driving in from their home in Oatmeal for the day. I think the first feast will be a Mexican pot luck. I can get an assortment of fabulous handmade tamales at Gringo's Gourmet in town, and I'll make my Mexican Brownies for dessert. We will be having the second feast on the 4th of July weekend, when my sister Kathy and her husband are here. Of course, the theme for that one will have to be barbecue. For August we might do a meal based on summer's harvest, then in September perhaps we will have an Italian feast. If these turn out to be even half as much fun as I'm imagining, they will be a blast!

And speaking of blasts, my sister Carolyn comes to town today, and will be staying through the weekend, so we've got four or five full days to just hang out together and do "chick" things (John's out of the country on business most of this month). I can't believe I finally get to stay here long enough to actually do some exploring in the surrounding areas. So far it's been nothing but quick trips in and out, where we spent the entire time unpacking and trying to get things organized. This is also the first time anyone in my family has actually seen the place, so I'm pretty excited about that, too.

1 family-size chocolate chunk brownie mix
1/2 tablespoon almond extract
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
5 tablespoons butter
4 1/2 oz. Mexican chocolate (such as the Popular brand, in the flat orange and white box)

Mix brownies according to package directions, but adding in the almond extract and cinnamon. Spread in prepared 9 x 13" pan. In food processor, whirl the flour and brown sugar together until well blended. Add butter and whirl again. Pulse in coarsely chopped Mexican chocolate. Squeeze handfuls of streusel mixture until it sticks together, then crumble into chunks evenly over surface of batter. Bake according to directions on box, until a wooden skewer comes out with moist crumbs attached. Let cool in pan on a rack for at least 20 minutes. If making up to one day ahead, cool completely, then wrap uncut brownies airtight.

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