December 1, 2008 at 11:10 pm (From the Cabin Kitchen, Self-Employment) (, , )

A couple of weeks ago a group of my friends and colleagues got together for the first–of hopefully many more–Self-Employed Evening (SEE).

The idea was for all of the self-employed folks that seem to be coming out of the woodwork lately to get together and share ideas, vent, inspire, motivate, network, what have you, and have a beer or two. Many of us, including myself, wondered if we would actually get anything accomplished, fearing that it might turn into a gab session instead. It did, naturally, at times, but all-in-all, we covered a lot of relevant topics and it’s probably safe to say that every one of us learned something new.

We started the evening by sitting around Phil’s dining room table and one by one we introduced ourselves, and gave a short summary of what it is exactly that we do to pay the bills. Even though most of us knew each other, it was oddly nerve-wracking to ‘introduce’ ourselves to our own friends in that context. Perhaps it was just shyness or modesty or not wanting to be in the spotlight. I tend to think, however, that it maybe for some of us had more to do with individual insecurities about the nature of our employment, especially the newcomers to the World of Freelance. Ok, maybe that was just me who felt that way.

Anyway, there were two Serial Entrepreneurs of the group, myself included. It was funny that I somehow missed one of my jobs when I listed off all of the things I am currently working on–how embarrassing! Just forgot it even existed, even though it takes up about half of my time right now. I can’t decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing; maybe it’s a little of both. It made me think that perhaps I am a little too scattered and should consider focusing on one or two things. But that prospect makes me feel anxious about getting bored, not having enough variety to keep me inspired.  I did, however, make a silent promise to myself not to add any more occupations to my repertoire, until I am at least able to list them all by rote and not leave any out.

Popular topics of the evening included–but were not limited to: Taxes (of course), Motivation, Discipline, How To Get Out of Your Pajamas (introduced by me), Time Management, Taxes, and Taxes. We learned of a savvy accountant, and shared bookkeeping tips.

We had pizza and it was B.Y.O.B, so there were several bottles of wine and some beer and I musn’t forget these AMAZING ginger vodka drinks that Tara made. I translated this acronym as Bring Your Own Brownies, so that’s what I did.

To stray from the topic of Self-Employment for a moment, I would like to share with you all a new and fantastic brownie recipe that I found on the Smitten Kitchen site. Deb over there in Manhattan is a genius; if you haven’t checked out her site yet, drop everything and do it now! If you aren’t inspired to cook something–anything–after looking at her terrific photos, well, I hate to say it, there may be no hope for you. Just kidding, of course, but this woman is idol-worthy. Oh, and she is self-employed too, so this digression is still relevant to SEE.

The brownies come from Cook’s Illustrated, the all-time best Test Kitchen out there. They go to great lengths to work out all of the kinks so you don’t have to, trying every possible permutation of the recipe to get the best results, sometimes making things up to 150 times. There have been only a handful of the gazillion times I’ve made something from their magazine where I have had to tweak something because it didn’t work.The other thing I like about their process, besides the copious and anal testing they do, is that their approach is scientific and somewhat nerdy. At the end of the day, nerdiness can get you pretty far in the kitchen, especially when it comes to baking.

Unlike many brownie recipes that I have used in the past, this one employs a leavener, which gives it a lightness not to be confused at all with cakiness. What it does is just makes it a little eensy-teensy bit more airy that the super dense style of brownie you might be used to. Without being cakey. At all, because, well, that just wouldn’t be acceptable because brownies are never supposed to be cakey. The baking powder just allows for enough of a rise to lighten up the texture a bit.

Since I followed the recipe posted on Smitten’s site word-for-word without changing anything, I am going to be lazy and just give you the link. That way I can get back to work and spare you the pain of suffering through my pathetic photography and drool over her delicious images instead.

So, enjoy reading Deb’s great writing and eat every last morsel of these Classic Brownies.

Let me know how they turn out!


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