My sister Leigh turned 27 on Monday, which also happened to be Labor Day. I’m pretty sure her actual birth day was on Labor Day as well, but since I was 4 when she was born, I don’t really remember! What I do remember is knowing deep down that I was going to have a sister.
Apparently I said to my mom that if it wasn’t a girl, I was “sending it back to the hospital.” And when I got to talk to my mom after my sister was born, she said “It’s a girl! You have a sister!” I said, “I know, it’s what I ordered!”
It’s amazing how things can change over the span of a lifetime… she and I have been through fire and flames this past year, and I know for a fact that I could not have gotten through everything without her. It’s amazing how someone who, at some point or another, probably annoyed the heck out of me, is now one of my very best friends. She was my maid of honor and stood next to me on our wedding day. And I’m proud to call her my sister.
When Leigh was little, we always knew she’d do something to do with food as her career. She used to fight me for the privilege to arrange the salad for dinner, butter and cream dishes at restaurants didn’t stand a chance against her creativity, and at the young age of 14, she made a wedding cake. Now, she’s the assistant pastry chef for the Sofitel Hotel in Chicago. I’m so proud of her, but her career always leaves me with a dilemma: What the heck do I bake for her birthday?
This year, the answer was clear. Jessica’s recipe for Bourbon Pecan Pie-Topped Brownies spoke to me. They looked amazing, sounded amazing, and were a bit different than my usual cupcake/yeast bread type desserts.
And so, in the throes of Phase 1 of South Beach Diet, I ventured into the baking aisle at the local market for a few key things I’d gotten rid of: flour, sugar, corn syrup… the evil trinity if you will. I bought pecans (too many) and really good butter. It does matter, even though some people swear it doesn’t.
I got home and mixed and stirred, smelled and sniffed, and managed to get brownie on the back of my iPhone. Isn’t that how everyone reads recipes in the kitchen?
And I baked. And then mixed more, and topped the brownies with the pecan mixture and baked some more. And the house smelled amazing.
(thanks for the perfect baking dish Karen!)
And I let them cool, covered the pan, and let them sit, and then I went to bed. I didn’t even taste a single bourbon-crusted pecan. In the morning, I cut them up and there were brownie shards left in the pan. I had to taste them to make sure they weren’t awful and worthy of giving to Leigh. So I had one bite, and one bite only. They didn’t suck. In fact, they far from sucked…they could be the best brownies I’ve ever made! And I stopped. I lined Leigh’s gift casserole (what, you don’t give casserole dishes as gifts?) with waxed paper and stacked the brownies neatly.
I covered the casserole dish, wrapped it up, and didn’t see it again until dinner.
I handed Leigh the gift bag, said “You might want to open what’s inside” and she promptly did. And proclaimed the brownies “whoa good” as Adam, and my mom, and my stepdad. I didn’t eat any more, and while they enjoyed their brownies for desserts, I ate the inside of another amazing Big Star taco.
I didn’t feel deprived, in fact, quite the opposite. I was enjoying the company, having a wonderful time with my family, and hardly thought about the fact that I didn’t eat a brownie. The gratification of seeing Leigh enjoy my baking so much was more than enough for me.
So, while it’s a couple days late, Happy birthday Leigh! I love you always! May we never encounter the woo-woos again, may your next year be as full as Raisins in the Middle, and may I never again lock you in my closet!