Friday, August 9, 2013

When you are away

Back a million years ago, or maybe only 15 or so, Auntie Chris was deployed on ships.  Sometimes large; more often small.   She was one of three females on a fast frigate deployed in, what, 1998 or 1999 I guess.  On an aircraft carrier, the one that was deployed forever and helped with the Indonesian tsunami relief effort.  Some other ship after that.  She'd give me a folder with all the information about her auto-pay bills, instructions for the DVD recorder she'd installed at my house to record the West Wing or whatever (Can you imagine! It used to be the only way!), where the keys to everything were, what to do if her helicopter crashed into the ocean, and then away she'd go for six months, nine months, until she came back.

While she was gone I'd send her things.  Once a week.  Not every-single-no-matter-what-once-a-week but, pretty much 80-90%, once a week.  Sometimes it would be cookies.  Sometimes candy.  Often I'd try to send something silly.  Once I sent one of those robotic plush pet dogs that you could "train" to bark and jump.  She told me this lived in the helicopter group office, or whatever that space is called where they kept their stuff and talked about what needed fixing and all the rest.  Once I sent a whole bunch of soap and asked her to please have the ship spell out my name in bubbles in the ocean and take a picture from the air.  Twice, at least, I sent kites.  I can remember in a visceral way shopping for this goofy stuff, packing these little boxes, filling out the carbon-forms you get at the post office to send something to an APO box.

Chris said sometimes the mail would be squirrely and a bunch of boxes would arrive all at once. Three, five, six weeks of stuff.  She said it was like some strange holiday.

More often than anything, I sent these brownies.  They mix up by hand in one bowl, no fuss no bother.  They cook up right and pack like a dream. 

Auntie Chris texted me today. (So sorry DVD player, your days are gone.)  She said she was thinking of someone deployed and could I please send the brownie recipe.   Sure thing.

Chocolate Chip Brownies for Mailing to People Who Are Far Away
3/4 c butter
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
4 large eggs
1 3/4 c sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla (sometimes I just add 2 tsp)
3/4 c flour
1/2 tsp salt, or a little more
1 c chocolate chips (or finely chopped chocolate is good too, also M&Ms)

Melt together the butter and chocolate and set aside to cool.
Bet the eggs and sugar together with a whisk until they are pale yellow, thick, and light.  This takes 3-5 minutes depending on your energy level.  This is the leavening, don't phone it in.
Add the chocolate and butter mixture and fold in.  Be careful it's cool enough so you don't cook the eggs.  Add the vanilla.
Fold in the flour and the salt.  Add the chocolate chips or whatever (or you can just sprinkle them on top when it's in the pan).
Bake in a 350 degree F oven in a 9 x 13 x 2 inch (or slightly smaller) buttered pan for about 25 minutes.  Don't over bake.

PS -- I looked all over for a photo of Auntie Chris and one of her helicopters.  I think I must have some somewhere, but they seem to have vanished into my fancy picture organizing and storing technology, in which I can locate no photo taken before 2006.  Sigh.

PS again -- updated to add pictures, from a ship's tour in Australia.  Thanks Chris.

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Kay said...

You are the BEST sister ever!

Chris said...

Brownies - made (1.5 batch)
Majority of brownies - package for shipping
Sample brownie - delicious!
Wastage brownies (oh, come on - who can get that first one out without 'ruining' it?) - currently making Auntie Chris' tummy ache - but oh so yummy!

Thanks - hopefully these will help make our guy as popular as I always was on Mail Call day!