Monday, July 14, 2014

There You Are


Young adviser and I have a favorite saying: Wherever you go, there you are. 

Recently I visited a friend in Anacortes, Washington. 

You can imagine how we spent most of our time in such a beautiful place -- outside and talking. 

One day as I was telling about the events that led up to Gentleman Friend and I settling in Leawood, Kansas, she said, "You must really love him." 

Valentine Roses - the flower of love

I laughed. It's true, of course, but why had she said that?

Because the events I had been relating constituted a story.A life of ups and downs. Together with Gentleman Friend.  A story of where I had been and how I got there and where I am now.

What I was telling her was a very literal story of where I had been -- where I had lived: Albuquerque, Des Moines, Middletown, Ohio-- and others in between.

Here is what we can learn from this. There is a story in location. How has it formed you? What did you learn? How are you the person you are because of where you have lived? Jerry, a member of our writing group has lived in Germany and France, and other places, too. Louise grew up in Russia. Ronnie is from Brooklyn. Stella has always lived in Kansas City, Kansas  -- yet it was a time of a historic flood and the impact of the meat packing industry on immigrants, families, and the city. Each person has wonderful stories that could only be lived in those particular places. Each person has been shaped by the culture, religion,  food, beliefs and economic and political situations in those places.

I like to say I have lived up and down Interstate 35 -- not very interesting at first glance. Yet, my friend found a story that brought a tug at her emotions.


Make a list or a mind map (a non-linear list) of the cities, states, countries, houses or apartments where you have lived. Write about the details and how you were shaped by them. Farm girl? City girl? Where were you then? Where are you now? Because -- wherever you go, there you are.


Today's recipe, from Smitten Kitchen, is perfect for summer -- Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches. Of course, you can use plain vanilla, but the author uses a combination of flavors. On her blog, she also has great photo illustrations of the procedure. Besides liking this particular recipe, I like this blog.

brownie ice cream sandwiches
Photo and recipe from

For the brownies
3 ounces (85 grams) unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1 stick (4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt (about 2 grams)
2/3 cup (85 grams) all-purpose flour

For the filling
2 to 3 cups ice cream

Heat oven to 350°F. Line two 8×8-inch square baking pans with parchment paper, extending it up two sides. Butter the parchment and exposed sides of the pan or spray them with a nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium heatproof bowl over gently simmering water, heat chocolate and butter together until about 3/4 of the way melted. Remove from heat and stir until smooth.

Stir in sugar until fully combined, then eggs, one at a time and vanilla. Stir in salt until combined, then flour, until it just disappears.

Divide batter between two prepared pans and spread it evenly — an offset spatula will make this easier.

Bake on different racks for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating once top to bottom and front to back, until a toothpick inserted into the center of each pan comes out batter-free.

Transfer hot pans directly to freezer (you can put down dish towels or a cooling rack to protect shelves). Chill until cold and firm, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove first pan from freezer, and, working quickly, cover with ice cream.  Use a spatula to smoosh it down and smooth the top.

Remove second brownie pan from freezer. Run a knife between edges of brownie and pan to make sure it’s not sticking anywhere and use parchment sling to life the brownie out of the pan, remove the parchment and place it on top of the ice cream.

Place the empty brownie pan on top of the brownie lid, to weight it, and press down a little.

Keeping the weighting pan on top, return brownie-ice cream stack to freezer until fully firm, another 30 minutes.

Run a knife around brownie stack again to make sure it’s not stuck, and use the parchment sling to transfer the ice cream sandwich block to a cutting board. Cut into squares —  cut it into 16 (4×4) or make 25 (5×5)

You can store the cut sandwiches in an airtight container or bag in the freezer as-is, or individually wrapped in squares of waxed paper. They should keep for at least two months in the freezer, but good luck with that.

More good stuff about memoir and life story writing can be found at Angel In Your Inkwell website.
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