Riding Out the Storm

Actual texts between me and Brian Levinson during Hurricane Sandy:

Brian: This is the first time in my life I have been afraid that the weather was going to come into my house and kill me. How fares Boston? 8:52PM, Oct. 29

Me: We’re sitting in the dark, eating homemade blondies and playing Trivial Pursuit with help from a candle and a bike helmet light. 9:09PM, Oct. 29

Brian: Not bad, considering. 9:10, Oct. 29

Sure, we lost our power midday, but it wasn’t a big deal. We got it back by midnight.

I lived on the island of Manhattan for seven years. My heart breaks with every photo I see of flooded subway stations, darkened streets and burned down homes. According to Facebook, all my friends and their family members are accounted for.

Like I said, we lost power, but it wasn’t a big deal. Also not a big deal:making these blondies, or, as the recipe calls them, “butterscotch brownies.” I made them right before we lost our power. They took less than 10 minutes to put together, and then a half hour in the oven. I used a Fannie Farmer recipe, although I tweaked it a little bit, changing out one of the two cups of dark brown sugar for one cup of light brown sugar. It just sounded too sweet with two cups of dark brown. The recipe leaves the nuts vague, and I will too. I actually had a packet of mixed nuts on the counter from an Eat Boutique package I won. I think walnuts are pretty traditional, but that’s entirely up to you. I melted the butter in the microwave using a glass mixing bowl at 35 second intervals.

Oh, I won the Trivial Pursuit game. And dessert.

Butterscotch Brownies (Blondies) from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook


½ cup melted butter

1 cup dark brown sugar

1 cup light brown sugar

2 eggs

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup chopped nuts


Preheat oven to 350F.

Butter a 9×13-inch cake pan.

Mix all of the ingredients together, combining them well. Spread in the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until dry on top and almost firm to the touch. Let cool for 10-15 minutes, then cut into small squares.