Thursday, May 24, 2012

Slutty Brownies: A Second Recipe, with Peanut Butter and More Calories than Last Time

So Overfatty Cakes turned out to be one of the most popular posts to date. You really seemed to enjoy reading about these fat bombs.

And suggesting additions.

Some people suggested Nutella, gianduja, (David and his hazelnuts), candy, and Quinn, ever adventurous, suggested cake mix, saying something along the lines of "we do this stuff in Utah all the time."

Then my friend Noah suggested the best thing ever: peanut butter.

I love peanut butter. I put it on everything. I eat it all the time. It makes dessert even more awesome.

It also adds a ton of calories to whatever it is in. Of course, I couldn't resist.

So I made slutty brownies...for my entire dorm.

Brownies | Peanut Butter and Oreo | Sugar Cookie | Heaven

I got creative with the middle layer. Peanut butter is difficult to play with, but it cooperates once you...crush the Oreos into it. Yes, crush the Oreos.

Adding the peanut-butter-Oreo layer.

Anyway, here is the second slutty brownie recipe. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Slutty Brownies

Sugar Cookie Dough

1 stick butter
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 2/3 cups flour
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. baking powder

Middle layer

1/2 large jar peanut butter
24 Oreos, broken into pieces


6 oz. chocolate chips
1 stick butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup flour
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder.

1. Grease a 9x13 baking pan.

2. Cream together the butter and sugar for the cookie dough until smooth.

3. Add egg, flour, vanilla, and baking powder. Knead into the butter-sugar mixture.

4. Press the cookie dough into the bottom of the baking pan until you have an even, but thin layer on the bottom.

5. Mix together the broken Oreos and peanut butter until the Oreos are equally distributed in the peanut butter. Spread evenly over the cookie dough, but it can be a little bumpy. Fill in the holes with extra peanut butter.

6. Melt the chocolate and the butter together to create a ganache. Set aside to cool.

7. Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.

8. Mix the ganache and the other brownie ingredients together to form a consistent batter. I suggest mixing the ganache and sugar first.

9. Pour the batter on top of everything and spread evenly to cover.

10. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a knife comes out only with a few crumbs and bits of peanut butter and Oreo cream. Remove from oven and let cool before serving.

On a less diabetes-inducing note, my friend Jonathan (yes, there are more of us - Jewish boys named Jonathan are like maple saplings, we take root everywhere) has a nice new blog called Besides Much Cattle. Link is in the blogroll.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Bomb Scare: An anecdote of Chicago during NATO

There was a "bomb scare" outside my building Saturday morning.

I rolled out of my building around 10am to go to services and began to walk down the street. As I walked down, I heard a policewoman yelling.

"Yo, there! Stop! You can't go down there!"

"Why?" I asked. I've walked down Harper at least five hundred times.

"Some jackass left a package under the rails."

For reference, my building is next to a commuter rail line.

My first reaction was "oh shit."

This commuter rail line also goes under where the NATO summit was taking place over the past few days.

The police shut down some of the streets around the rail line and sent in the bomb squad. A helicopter's drone stood over the neighborhood for hours, and sirens sounded at random points throughout the morning. My prayers in the synagogue service - not well-attended due to the difficulty of navigating Chicago during the summit - were broken by the constant sounds of police sirens.

The "package" was an empty suitcase. An all-clear was issued. In the ensuing mess of traffic, a bus rear-ended an SUV and blocked off one of the neighborhood's main streets. Traffic in Hyde Park was a mess for most of Saturday. Walking to and from synagogue was adventurous that day. Snarled traffic, police officers everywhere, sirens, bomb-search dogs on tight leashes. Not exactly a peaceful Sabbath.

I'm pretty sure it was some prankster who thought that it would be a fun joke to cause a hullaballoo.

On the one hand, I'm really happy that the police reacted the way they did. I know that not every package is a bomb, I know that paranoia does significant damage to a society. I'm Israeli-American and South African-American; I've bridged three paranoid cultures for my whole life. But the fact that that response can happen in the city - just in case, G-d forbid, that something should happen - says a lot. Because I'm damn glad that someone reported it, and they went to look at it. Because if it had been a bomb, I would've been pissed and sad if I couldn't live in my building because some horrible person blew up the Metra line. I'm grateful to have the protection I do.

On the other hand, the past three days have been a bit much for the city of Chicago. We're all paranoid. The police presence, road closures, and helicopter drones feel strangely eerie. The reaction to protesters downtown - with whom I am not necessarily in complete accord - has left much, much, much to be desired of the CPD. The University was strangely silent today - many staff and faculty were not able to attend classes or meetings due to the road closures and transport reroutes throughout the city.

The bomb scare added to this sense of paranoia. I'd thought of the NATO-related chaos as something that would be taking place downtown, and at McCormick place. But it actually took place where I live, work, study, and move. It hit home.

I'm not against NATO, or the summit. I might not be the biggest fan of NATO, but I'm not anti-NATO - it should be noted that for some activists, for some causes, NATO is an ally, not a foe. I'm not the world's biggest fan of the summit being in Chicago, but that's more because I don't think that the summit serves the city's needs. NATO would do much better for itself - and cities - if they held summits in smaller, more easily secured locations.

However, I am quite glad that Chicago will return to some sense of normalcy soon.  Even for someone who didn't venture downtown, who spent most of the weekend doing schoolwork, who didn't have something invested in the summit or opposing it, the disruption to the life of the city and the bomb scare was not that really that great. I, and three million other residents of Chicago, want the city back.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Overfatty Cakes: An Adjustment of the Slutty Brownie

I was going to write a rant about consistency, but that post is still in the works.

In the meanwhile, a friend's girlfriend told me about slutty brownies - delicious cakes of ass-fattening goodness: layered brownies, Oreos, and cookie dough, baked together to gooey, diabetes-inducing deliciousness.

I adjusted the recipe slightly for my prayer group. Here are the....Overfatty Cakes!

Overfatty Cakes
makes enough to give at least 12 people sugar highs

4-6oz chocolate chips
3/4 c. canola oil or melted butter
1 3/4 c. sugar
1 c. flour
3 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. baking powder

Oreo Layer
16-20 Chocolate-cream Oreos

Cookie Cake
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 c. sugar
3 eggs
1/2 c. milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
2-4 oz chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Grease an 8x8 cake pan.

2. Mix all the cookie cake ingredients together to form a thickish batter. Pour into the cake pan and spread evenly.

3. Layer the Oreos on top of the cookie cake batter in an even pattern. Do not stack. Holes are OK. It should look something like this when done.


You might have room for a row of half-Oreos.

4. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave or in a steam-pot with 3 tsp water mixed in.

5. Mix the remaining brownie ingredients.

6. Slowly mix in the melted chocolate until you have a consistent, medium-thickness batter.

7. Pour the brownie mix into the cake pan on top of the Oreos and cookie cake batter. Be sure that the brownie is spread evenly and covers the entire cake; it is important that the Oreos absorb some of the brownie batter.

8. Bake for ~45 minutes or until a toothpick only comes out with Oreo filling and a few crumbs. Remove, cool, cut, serve, grow fat.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Translation Project 3: "How Can You Say" by Teresa Teng

Time for another translation: I'll be translating a classic of Mandarin pop into English.

Teresa Teng, blessed be her soul, was the ultimate diva of Chinese-language pop in the '80s and early '90s until her sudden and tragic death in the mid-1990s. Born to Mainland refugees on Taiwan, she took Taiwan, Japan, and then the rest of Asia by storm with her songs in Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese, Japanese, Indonesian and English. Even though she died almost two decades ago, her songs still top charts in China, Taiwan and around Asia. When I was in Shenzhen last summer, I heard her most famous songs all the time in restaurants. They're also great for karaoke (my perennial favorite, for those of you who care, is 何日君再來).

This song, called Ni zenme shuo (你怎麽說) in Chinese, is about a woman jilted by an insincere man. The first time I heard it, I must admit that I thought "oh narrator, you are a silly, silly lady." But the song is beautifully touching and very short and sweet in the Chinese. Unfortunately, Chinese is very hard to translate into English, and the lyricism of the song is lost in a literal translation. I took some liberty with it.

How Can You Say to Me?
Lyrics : Teresa Teng
Translated by Jonathan Katz into a lyrical form

The lyrics of the song are sung twice.

I did not forget,
But you forgot me,
Even my name 
you forgot, I see.
All along, it is clear
that you cheated me
And now, on this day
how can you say to me?

You had said two days, 
and you would be by,
but over a year 
I waited, apparently,
three hundred sixty five
days badly passed by
I was not anywhere
inside your heart, clearly
Please give back
my love to me.