I went to Peru for a month with my friends! It was magical. Beautiful. Cold. Hot. Challenging, scary at times, exhilarating always.
I lived out of a backpack. I had three dresses, one pair of boots, a sweater, socks and leggings. And for food: tuna, cans of sardines, boxes of granola bars and bags of instant oatmeal. There’s not much kosher food in Peru, so my friends and I had to bring some along with us. We brought a little electric pot, too, for cooking things like eggs and rice and vegetables.
I’d never been backpacking before. I was nervous and excited. I thought it would be hard. Truthfully, I thought that I would hate it. I did it to challenge myself to live differently, more out of a sense of duty than desire.
And then something happened. I loved it. All of it. I loved having less decisions to make in the morning when getting dressed, I loved that lunch could be as simple as a hard boiled egg with a sprinkle of salt. I learned I need less to live. I made do with what I had. Spent less time focusing on material things, more time absorbing the beauty of my surroundings and reveling in the company of my friends.
I realized: you only have so much space in your life. You choose what to give space to. When you give space to things, you have less space for people, places, yourself. And when you give space to yourself: you give space to anything, everything, the world.
Here is what I saw in Peru:
colors so bright they hurt my eyes and lit up my soul
mountains so high they stole my breath and gave me life
deserts so quiet i could finally hear. the wind. the sand. my mind.
lagoons so blue they could have been sky
a deep, abiding love for the earth and her Mother
and then some.
I’m home now. But I’m already planning my next trip. I can’t stay still for too long. There is so much to see, so much to do- an entire world, and I can’t contain my excitement for it.
In the meantime, I’ve been getting to know my kitchen again. It’s good to be able to eat something other than tuna, to have a pantry full of kosher food, a kitchen I can cook in. A kitchen I can make brownies in.
A world away from home. A home away from home. Brownies. Home.
It’s good to be back.
Yields: 9×13″ pan
Adapted from Sweet
Why I love this recipe: these brownies are dark, fudgy and slightly chewy at the edges, with a crisp, shiny lid. They’re marbled through with sweet halva and nutty tahini, which adds excitement to otherwise classic brownies, and a sprinkle of salt keeps them from being too sweet. For a perfect, classic brownie, leave out the halva and tahini and look no further.
Notes: In order to achieve perfectly gooey yet not underdone brownies, keeping an eye on the cooking time is crucial. It will vary slightly depending on where the pan is sitting in the oven, so keep a close eye on the brownies. They may seem a little undercooked at first, but they firm up once they start to cool down. They brownies can be frozen, well wrapped, for up to a month.
For the brownies:
- 2 sticks butter
- 10 oz. dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cups dark rye flour
- 1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 7 oz. halva, broken into 3/4″ pieces
- 1/3 cup tahini paste
- flaky salt, for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line with parchment paper, then set aside.
- Place the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure that the base of the bowl is not touching the water. Stir together until the butter and chocolate have melted into a thick, shiny sauce. Let cool.
- Place the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and whisk until pale and creamy and a trail is left behind when you move the whisk; this will take about 3 minutes with an electric mixer, 6-7 minutes by hand.
- Add the melted chocolate and fold together very gently with a spatula until just combined.
- Sift the flour, cocoa powder and salt into a bowl, then gently fold into the chocolate mixture.
- Finally, add the pieces of halva, gently fold through the mix, then pour the mixture into the lined baking pan, using a small spatula to even it out.
- Dollop small spoonfuls of the tahini into the mix in about 12 different places, then use a skewer or toothpick to swirl them through to create a marbled effect.
- Bake for about 23 minutes, until the middle has a slight wobble and it is still gooey inside—although this can take 22-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with flaky salt.
- If you want to serve them while they’re warm and gooey, set aside for just 30 minutes before cutting into 16 pieces. Otherwise, set aside for longer to cool to room temperature.