Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Spring Can’t Get Here Fast Enough

We aren't the only ones with the winter blues
Pet's brother took this picture in London!

Yes Karen it's true, it does snow on palm trees!


This certainly has been a rough winter. Seems like the ice and snow will never quit. And the cold. Bitter, biting, blustery cold. Must we break records every day? And do they have to be, the coldest, the most snow, thousands of power outages caused by ice and other weather disasters? We snowbirds, stuck for the winter in balmy Florida, really sympathize with our friends and family up north as we watch them struggle on the weather channel in our shorts and T-shirts. Okay, so some days we have to top off our shorts with a sweat shirt, and even go unstylish and wear socks with our sandals, but even then the southern sun shines blindingly in a cloudless sky. Not a snowflake in sight. Lolling in the southland is great way to chase the midwinter blues.


Although we in Southern California have had one of the warmest January’s on record we’ve also had some of the coldest nights. Storms as far away as Alaska bombarded us though usually they never make it this far south. So I would say it’s been a miserable winter here too. I mean just when we’re ready to break out the bikini and hit the beach again we get anther rainy cold snap. But hey I’m not complaining, well kind of. : ) But what is worth complaining about is the way native LA people drive in the rain. I swear it’s like they’ve never seen water fall from the sky before. They have to slow down and stare to make sure the downpour is real. One thing you can spot right away are the transplants like me. We see rain and drive just like usual on the freeways, 70 or faster!   


Do you notice how many movies in LA feature rain? The Hollywood folks get their cameras out at the first drop. I remember one of our early visits to S. California. The theme parks were closed because of the storm. So even golden state residents need a “snow day.” Not like our daughter in ice stricken Kentucky who has ten days off from school waiting on the electricity to go back on, but a weather related holiday anyway. Here in Florida there’s plenty of weather fun during the hurricane season so they don’t react to rain storms. Matter of fact, they love rain around here. We’re close to the forest fire area of last year. Dry foliage from the recent freeze makes efficient tinder. By the way, did I tell you we have cattle around here? Kind of opposite from the boonies back home. Here I counted 500 cows and 5,000 little houses. Back home reverse the figures.


Seems you find cows wherever you go. I’m sure they know you don’t take it personally. :) Great idea about “snow day” but in LA I think they should call them “rain days.”  They actually would save lives. But these days we are grateful for every drop as we head into our third year of drought. Still, as I check the forecast and see one series of storms after the other I have to admit I long for the typical sunny California weather. I can see why my native California friend who moved to Oregon needed a doctor after the first year. When you’re not used to dark and gloomy days it really does make you stir crazy. She had to get a prescription for a special lamp to ease her depression. I’m sure the people in Kentucky and Back East could really use a light prescription too. And they’d love the side benefit of a great tan! 


The winter sun is a welcome sight. As soon as the clouds disappear the days rapidly heat. Lately the blustery breezes keep the beaches deserted so we don’t see too many tourist type suntans. You know, the ones you want to say ouch to. Red and peeling instead of bronze and beautiful. When I went south in the winter I’d really concentrate on a tan. Mr. Sun kissed my Mediterranean hide with color George Hamilton would envy. Then every year the same thing happened. As soon as I stepped on the plane north, the tan faded and when we landed, all evidence of the southern sojourn disappeared. I stopped sun bathing when bombarded by hazard reports. Like most alarming health warnings sun avoidance comes with negatives since the word on the street is women get osteoporosis because those spf 50 lotions deprive their bodies of Vitamin D, essential to keep bones strong. Don’t know who to listen to re what’s good or bad for you I say, defiantly munching on a chocolate covered peanut butter cookie. 


LOL Pet! I say anything chocolate would chase the winter blues away. As I look at the forecast and see another string of storms headed our way for most of the following week I quickly hit the grocery store and stock up on all the things I need to make my favorite chocolate treats. Nothing like gloomy weather to bring out the baker in me. Somehow that fact that it’s pouring rain outside is masked by the wonderful aroma of brownies baking in the oven. It’s also the perfect excuse to get a chocolate high. I don’t feel guilty at all indulging in a frosted fudge brownie with chocolate chips and washing it down with a big mug of hot cocoa with whip cream on top. Who cares that you can’t go outside when you are bouncing off the walls!!!! 


Seems like when the weather worsens in the west, we warm up in the east. Especially the southeast!  That doesn’t mean we’ll stop eating so we look great in our bikinis. Us eat-a-holics just switch the treats. We cool off those brownies (recipe, dahling?) and plop a huge dollop of vanilla ice cream on top. Or better yet caramel cheesecake ice cream. Instead of hot chocolate we haunt the convenience stores for grape slurpies. Need a protein fix? Hot dog stands spring up along with the Orange blossoms. All those goodies are on top of three squares a day. Yeah, the sun might be blazing, the temperatures rising, and days getting longer but we still have to fight the winter blues. Hopefully the food police will forgive us indulging since the diet starts in six weeks on the first day of spring. As for now…please, please, please give us that double chocolate chunk brownie recipe before we sign off. 


Once again you ask me to divulge what to me is like a state secret, my favorite brownie recipe. But I’ll do for our blog fans that are buried in ice and snow. These are guaranteed to make you think it’s Spring!

Frosted Fudge Brownies with Dark Chocolate Chips 

2 cups sugar

8 oz. butter (2 sticks)

4 egg yolks, slightly beaten

4 oz. (4 squares) unsweetened baking chocolate

1 cup sifted flour

1 teaspoon vanilla (preferably Tahitian)

4 egg whites, beaten until stiff peaks form

½ bag of Ghirardelli’s 60% Cocoa Chocolate Chips 


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 

Put sugar in mixing bowl. Melt chocolate and butter together over low heat, stir until well blended and smooth. 

Add sugar; mix well. Add beaten egg yolks; mix well. Add flour and vanilla; mix well. Fold in beaten egg whites. Gently fold in chocolate chips. 

Spread in a 10x15x1-inch greased and floured jelly roll pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes. When cool, spread on chocolate brownie frosting.

Chocolate Brownie Frosting 

1 stick butter (4 oz.)

2 squares unsweetened chocolate

1 box confectioners' sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

5 tablespoons milk

Melt butter and chocolate over low heat; stir until smooth then add confectioners' sugar. Heat milk until hot; add to chocolate mixture. Add vanilla; beat until smooth. Spread over brownies and enjoy! 

(Consume with caution. Mass quantities are for heavy-duty chocoholics only. Not for the faint of heart : )  


Fran said...

Yes, thoughts of balmy days in Florida help us to get through our Baltimore winter (relatively mild compared to the North, but it can be pretty brutal) Karen's brownie recipe sounds like one of those "Death by Chocolate" types-- what a way to go....

Kiki said...

I'd swap places with you. I could go for some snow right now...
Then again, I'd have to trade you massive, sweeping fires for it, so I'm not sure it would be a mutually satisfying trade...

I love the idea of a UV lamp to cure vitamin D deficiency (it's not technically depression, afaiui). Greenhouses for humans!

Anonymous said...

Well,here I am in Bethany beach Delaware,we have at least 6 inches of snow on the ground today, My brother who lives in annapoulus was off work today, Are you ready for this? Because there was a rally today in washington for Global warming, But it was cancelled because of snow! hahahahaha But anyway Pet, Karen as soon as I can get out, I have to get the stuff to make those brownies.They sound aswsume,I dont mind dying in the snow full of chocolate!!! THANKS FOR THE RECIPE