When my kids were in elementary school, they had a wonderful Kindergarten teacher whom I believe taught them a very important life lesson. No matter what task they were working on, she always encouraged them thus: “Just be sure to give it your 100% personal best.” This simple but sage advice has stayed with me through the years, and I often find myself turning to it when self-doubt sets in.
It’s easy to question whether or not our best is good enough. In today’s “smart”-centric society, the standards against which we judge ourselves are high. Think about it: Our phones are smart. We drive smart cars. Our snacks are smart. Smart energy is something we’re all expected to strive for. Even bottled water can be smart.
That’s a lot of intelligence floating out there in the universe. It’s intimidating. It’s easy to wonder whether our personal best — all 100% of it — can cut the mustard. I struggle with this question often; I can only imagine the pressure our kids must be feeling.
Earlier this month, we celebrated the birthday of one Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss. Now there’s a smart guy! The great “doctor” perhaps said it best in his final book, Oh the Places you’ll Go, an inspirational and oh-so-wise guide to navigating life’s peaks and valleys. Every word in the book, as in all of Seuss’ masterpieces, is quote-worthy, but I am partial to this particular passage:
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
There you have it; perhaps the best Life 101 advice I can think of. Wake up every morning knowing that the raw material you’ve been given is all you need to take on the day. Use it wisely and use it well, and surely you will find success. Doesn’t get much smarter than that.
Perfect Brownie Bites – Every Time!
One of the many reasons I love cooking so much is that, for me anyway, there’s no heavy thinking involved, just creating — and a little common sense. When I first discovered this brownie recipe, I knew my days with the powdered stuff in a box were over.There are of course a million variations possible with this basic recipe. For instance, I used vanilla sugar and eliminated the vanilla extract. Feel free to add nuts, toasted coconut, dried fruit, peanut butter and so on.The possibilities are endless.
1 stick unsalted butter, plus a little softened for the pan
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1 c. vanilla sugar (or 1 c. regular sugar and 1/2 t. vanilla extract)
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8- or 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil and grease the entire surface with about 1 T. melted butter.
Combine remaining butter and the chocolate in a small saucepan over a very low heat, stirring occasionally. When the chocolate is just about melted, remove from heat and continue stirring until mixture is completely smooth.
Transfer chocolate mixture to a bowl and stir in the sugar. Then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Gently stir in the flour, salt and vanilla (if using). Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until just barely set in the middle — approximately 18-20 minutes. Do not over-bake or the brownies will be dry. Cool on a wire rack before cutting.