inner city pressure.

Life in Phoenix, 6am. Backyard lighting and gun trouble.


twas the night before christmas.

And you know what that means....the Old Photos box.


kiss me, kate.

Hm. I really know absolutely zero about Hollywood musicals. Gun to my head, I would never have had any idea what Kiss Me, Kate was about. And it's about something I knew or used to know quite a bit about (not shrewishness, although that's totally true, but The Taming of the Shrew, Billy Shakes, etc, you know..."literary things").

That Is Super Fucking Interesting, Mark. Here's Hilly's version of Dorie Greenspan's version of Katharine Hepburn's brownie recipe as triumphantly executed by the VDuck Kitchen and Training Facility last week. These are the best brownies ever conceived, but they are not terribly sweet brownies, that's what the salted caramel is for. Well and also for making the nuts stick if you don't want to put them in the brownies themselves. Adding them afterwards was a technical consideration b/c I don't trust our oven and, well, nobody wants burned nuts etc etc etc.

Also, remember that your nuts are probably salty (how many more times can I say nuts, nuts nuts nuts), so don't overdo the salt in the caramel.


firestone/greenspan/hepburn brownies with salted caramel.

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
pinch ground cardamom

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp finely ground instant coffee (I used decaf without incident)
2 large eggs, preferably at room temperature

1 cup raw sugar, ground fine
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

120g bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used a 50/50 mix of 70% and 85% cacao b/c neither bar I had was perfect)

1 cup toasted, salted nuts of your choice, the choice this time was 1/2 macadamia and 1/2 pistachio


Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 150C/325 degrees F (I realize those aren't the same thing).

Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and line the bottom with parchment or wax paper. Butter the paper, dust the inside of the pan with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pan on a baking sheet.

Whisk the flour, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt together in a medium bowl.

Put the butter in a medium saucepan and place the pan over low heat. When the butter starts to melt, sift the cocoa over it and add the instant coffee. Continue to cook, stirring, until the butter is melted and the cocoa and coffee are blended into it. Remove from the heat and cool for about 3 minutes.

Using a whisk or a rubber spatula, beat the eggs into the saucepan one at a time. Next, stir in the sugar and vanilla (don't beat anything too vigorously — you don't want to add air to the batter), followed by the dry ingredients, nuts and chopped chocolate. Scrape the batter into the pan.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, at which point the brownies will still be gooey but the top will have a dry papery crust. Transfer the pan to a rack and let the brownies cool for at least 30 minutes. Turn the brownies out onto a rack, peel away the paper and invert onto a cutting board. At this point caramel was drizzled and nuts were attached.

Cool completely before cutting into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side.

Serve with salted caramel for drizzling and nut adhesion/cohesion/etc. Uncaramelized, they can be wrapped in plastic and kept for 3 days or so, but they'll never last. 


salted caramel. 

1 cup light-brown sugar (or dark-brown sugar, depends on what color you're going for)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup evaporated milk or koffiemelk, some sort of unsweetened, reduced milk product
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt, to taste

Combine in a saucepan over low heat and reduce, stirring pretty constantly, until you gets to the desired consistency.



timing is everything.

Had I been able to recognize that the surest way to pretty randomly attract violent spiritual resuscitation would be to christen 2014 The Year I Got Old just so the Fucking Universe could rear up and attempt to Prove Me Wrong, well...I would've done it Way Fucking Sooner. Either way: thanks, Fucking Universe, you win, pleeeeeeease just keep on doing what you're doing.

All of which puts VDuck in a bit of a Transitional Phase, content-wise...issues of jurisdiction. I go to America in ten days for a month, I'm sure I'll have things we can document and discuss in the traditional VDuck stylee.