I just had the worst night’s sleep and then woke up on the wrong side of the bed. When I say wrong side of the bed I really mean the opposite of the right side. I have slept on the right side of my bed ever since I graduated from a twin to a big- girl bed 25 years ago. Even when my sister and I shared a bedroom, and slept in twin beds, I slept in the bed to her right. But today I woke up on the left.
Now, people may wonder why, since I live alone, I need to choose a side at all. Hey, I have the whole queen sized place to myself! I could sleep diagonally, or smack in the middle, or flop from side to side like a fish without water. No. First of all I like an edge. I like being near the edge of the bed just in case I have to make a quick exit. What if the smoke detector goes off and I have to jump out and crawl out of my burning apartment? I wouldn’t want to waste time first scrambling to the edge of the bed before being able to drop and roll. Also there’s the matter of my decorative pillows. Of the eight pillows on my bed I only sleep on two. What do I do with the other six? I push five of them to the left side and pretend one of them is a headboard. And it’s kind of cozy having them piled so close by.
But the real question is why I had to sleep on the wrong side in the first place-- my radiator. Anyone who knows anything about old New York City apartment buildings knows about the terrors of steam heat: the hiss, clang and bang of the steam moving through the pipes as it fills your apartment with enough heat to warm a greenhouse but without any of the moisturizing humidity. I live on a high floor which seems to encase every riser in my building. If you place your hand on the walls in my bedroom they are literally warm to the touch and for that reason I never turn on my heat. But, apparently, even without opening the valve on your radiator you still get to experience the Chinese water torture effects.
The other night I heard a few tell-tale clangs of the pipe indicating what was to come next; imagine if you filled a coffee can with pennies and shook it like you were making a martini (which you’ll need to get through the night anyway). My first reaction is always, “No, no, no! Please no!” And then the next step is to give in and turn the radiator on. What is crazy is the hiss that blows out of the pipes when I turn that hot valve clockwise—as if the radiator has been holding its breath for months.
The good news is that it stops the pennies in a coffee can syndrome. The bad news is that my bedroom gets so hot I have had to come up with a jury rigged measure to prevent myself from turning into a prune overnight. Pillows get placed in front of the radiator and a blanket is stuffed into any remaining gaps. Then I throw open the window, take a Clonapin, situate myself as far away from the heat as possible (i.e. the wrong side of the bed), and hope for the best.
So, when I woke up in the morning I was totally disoriented and collided into a wall before finding my way to the coffee maker. With skin like a snake’s and eyes like sandpaper I rehydrated and tried to stop walking on an angle. And then I got to thinking about how something as seemingly minor as switching sides can cause you to look at your day, or even your life, in a new way. My nieces were coming over in the afternoon and I wanted to bake them a treat. There’s a recipe that’s been in my files for a year since I saw Martha whip it together on the Today Show. However, it’s for brownies and I’ve already declared the Barefoot Contessa’s to be definitive in the brownie category. But, here I am with a slightly new perspective and why not give them a try? Isn’t there room for improvement in everything we do? It seems as if I’ve been acting a little like my father; he gives my mother a hard time whenever she tries a “new” roast chicken, ("why’d you bother? The kind you always make is great.”) Who am I to decide to rest on Ina Garten’s laurels and call it a day? Plus her brownies tend to be a little intense for the taste buds of very junior palates.
These are made completely differently from any other brownies and use cream to replace some of the butter. They are indeed very fudgy and were a big hit with the nieces. Please note appreciative smile instead of "I don't yike my cupcake" grimace.
For the more mature eater they’re kind of fun to serve in wedges warm out of the pan (better for nicer entertaining too) with some minty or coffee ice cream to balance out the sweetness.
I like the idea of seeing old things with new eyes. But I’ll still be sleeping on the right side of the bed—as long as my radiator lets me.
Wrong Side of the Bed Fudgy Skillet Brownies
Adapted Everyday Food, March 2009
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1 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup all purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa (like Droste) (spooned and leveled)
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup half and half
8 ounces Ghiradelli 60% Cacao Chips (about 3/4 of a bag)
Preheat oven to 350
In large bowl whisk together sugar and eggs. Set aside.
In medium bowl whisk together flour, cocoa and salt. Set aside.
In a medium oven proof non stick skillet (10" or so) bring butter and cream to a simmer.
Add chocolate and stir constantly until melted. Take off heat and let cool 5 minutes.
With plastic spoon or rubber spatula, scrape chocolate mixture into egg/sugar mixture and whisk until blended. Set aside skillet.
Fold flour mixture into chocolate mixture until dry ingredients are fully incorporated.
Scrape batter back into reserved skillet.
Bake 35 minutes until toothpick/tester comes out clean.
Serve from skillet slightly warm or at room temperature using non metal spatula to cut and serve. (NOTE-this is where I screwed up and forgot I was using a non-stick skillet...it now has a gouge from my knife and probably should be tossed.)