Out of Mind Brownies

These brownies are baking right now, and my little home smells de-li-cious. Because, um, warm chocolate. On the yummy foods smell scale, that’s right up there with vanilla, pumpkin pie, apples and cloves, cinnamon,..

It’s autumn, people, which means that in my little area on the gulf coast of Florida, the temperature stays below 80 degrees until after 9 am. Woo hoo! I have pumpkin spice latte on the brain, but, yes, brownies in the oven. What can I say? I’m an enigma wrapped in a riddle… soon to be wrapped in a lightweight sweater and some super cute boots. Just saying.

One of my good friends turned me onto her trainer and so far that’s going so, so well. I think we all get stuck in our routines, you know. I’d run every.darn.day – and practically do, come to think of it – but our bodies get to a place where what we’re doing just sort of maintains or, worse, wears out. We need to cross train. I’ve mostly relied on yoga and Pilates to mix things up. It’s time for weights, though, and my, clearly far too subtle, hints to that big guy at the gym that “I could use a tip or two on what to do on the machines” fell on deaf ears. To be fair, I’m 5’4″ and he is so much taller than me. I’m never sure that my voice carries all the way up there. He mostly just smiles and waves down at me. Thus, I now have a fantastic trainer who makes me do very hard things in a big ol’ warehouse (read: no air conditioning) but plays really good dance music while I’m doing them. #totallyworthit

So, not dance music, but this song by Tia Gostelow called Out of Mind made it onto my playlist. Digging the mellow beat and the lyrics: “What’s on your mind lately? I know your eyes say things. He is screaming but your mouth is closed.”

You see people like this, too, right? Everything looks normal on the outside, but you can see in their eyes that they’re going through something. I’ve been seeing this a lot lately. Maybe it’s just me, but it feels like things are at a heightened state. Full moon was a week or so ago, so that’s not it. Holidays coming? Time change? Season change? I don’t know. Just life, I guess.

I ran into an old friend and the change in him because of what he’s dealing with in his life… you can definitely see it in his eyes. I felt like I didn’t even know him anymore. He’s just different. He even told me this had changed him. And it broke my heart to see him hurt. Never quite know what to say in the moment. In my head, it’s all platitudes. Trite. Redundant?

So often I’ve found that nothing heals like time, and in time, once you’ve decided to let this go, you’ll be okay. I promise. And when your heart is healed, you may not have forgotten the way you feel right now but the pain will not be as acute. You will stop being so angry. You will remember that you once loved this person and that the time you spent with her makes her part of you forever. Because of that – or maybe in spite of it – and because of this – what you’re feeling right now – you will love the next person better than you could have, better than you would have. And even though right now you can’t imagine loving anyone again ever, I promise you this, too: you will.

But I didn’t say any of those things. I saw in his eyes that he wasn’t ready to hear them and by the time he is, he’ll know them. On some level, he already does.

Instead I gave him a very big hug, told him how sorry I am that he’s hurting, and then I baked him some brownies.

Hazelnut Brownies

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons salted butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup melted Nutella
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts

PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 x 9 pan with parchment paper
POUR melted butter into a large mixing bowl. Whisk in sugar by hand until smooth.
ADD in eggs and vanilla extract. Whisk for one minute.
WHISK in melted Nutella until combined and smooth.
FOLD in in flour, cocoa powder, and salt until just combined.
STIR in chocolate chips and chopped hazelnuts.
POUR into prepared pan.
BAKE in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Let cool completely before slicing.