It’s been a week since my knee surgery. Reading has occupied my time during my… convalescence. Writing has not come easily as bodily discomfort frequently sidelines my thoughts. My world became smaller as I focused on healing, the people around me and the physical things that occupy the space in my house. Far from the distraction of the television (that is located on the first floor of the house and the stairs were too steep to manage in the beginning) and unable to spend much time on the laptop or cell phone (the bright screen causes nausea), I really have been able to read without feeling as though I need to produce something. Between reading children’s book during long cuddle sessions with the kids to reading I am a Truck by Michelle Winters to flipping through design and food magazines, I have had an opportunity to daydream. To genuinely feel excited about the future.
Of course, I’m making recovery from surgery sound comfortable and perhaps desirable (who doesn’t want more time to read for pure enjoyment?). There are lots of terrible and uncomfortable things that come with it as well. The first time I tried to get out of bed was one of the worst moments. The nausea and foggy head from pain medicine. Taking off the medical dressings and thinking “that is definitely not my leg” and then realizing “that is my leg!" and then, that sick-to-the-stomach feeling. Or the fact that night time can be a sleepless nightmare. As always though, there is something to learn and gratitude that comes.
Overall, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to get the repair done. To live in a country where it is possible for anyone to have this surgery. I’m thankful for the tremendous care and talent of my surgeon, the anesthesiologist, the nursing staff, orderlies, medical student and resident at the hospital. More so, I recognize that I wouldn’t have been able to do it without family and friends surrounding me with their support (kind of sounds like I just won an Oscar so I will stop now).
The future is bright, I think. In mine, I now see skiing, dancing, softball and just being silly with my kids.
The brownie-blondie debate. One is wildly popular and the other, well, do you know what a blondie is? Have you baked blondies before? My take on blondies is that they are a sister to brownies but are made without the melted chocolate or cocoa powder base. They’re still dense, chewy and thick but take on a flavour-spectrum closer to vanilla. Some articles have argued that blondies should have a butterscotch flavour because of the combination of brown sugar and butter. Others think that melted white chocolate should be substituted for melted dark chocolate. Still others think that the blondie is simply a cookie in bar form. No matter your take what constitutes a blondie, I think you’ll enjoy this recipe.
This blondie recipe makes lovely, thick bars. Tahini adds saltiness to the heavily sweetened, halva. Halva (also halwa, halvah, helva), is a broad term used to describe a confection made of ground sesame seeds or tahini paste, honey or sugar, plus nuts (often almond or pistachio). While researching different recipes for halva I saw that it can sometimes contain wheat. In the grocery stores isles though, the pre-packaged varieties tend to be wheat-free in Ontario. I wanted this recipe to be easy so have relied on buying halva from the grocery store in a 250 g block. Specialty stores tend to sell it by the gram. Other than sourcing the halva, there are minimal ingredients (just 9) so this recipe should be easy to make. Be careful not to eat too much halva or chocolate after you chopped it. Save some for the blondies!
Tahini and Halva Blondies
Time: Prep time (25 minutes) + Baking time (35-45 minutes)
Makes: 16 blondies
3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter
1 ¼ (280 g) cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (180 grams) all-purpose flour, sifted or whisked
1/2 tsp salt
150 g dark chocolate, chopped
125 g (or half a block) Halva (I used vanilla flavoured), chopped into about 2.5 cm (1 inch) chunks
1/3 cup (85 grams) tahini paste
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Remove from heat and set aside to cool while you prepare the pan and measure and prepare the other ingredients.
2. Preheat the oven t 350°F (180°C). Line a 20 x 20 cm (8 x 8 inch) baking pan (glass or metal is appropriate) with parchment paper. Here is a link from Food52 on how to properly line a pan.
3. Whisk the sugar and eggs in a medium bowl. Add the slightly cooled butter as well as the vanilla extract, whisk again. Fold in the flour and salt into the wet mixture. Fold in the chopped chocolate. Pour the thick batter into the prepared pan. Spread in with an offset spatula or back of a spoon. Evenly distribute the chopped halva on top. Depending on the consistency of the tahini paste either pour on top of the halva or heat in a saucepan and then pour on top.
4. Bake for 35-45 minutes. The top will be browned and the middle will be a little wiggle (but not runny). Allow to cool fully before slicing into 16 squares.
Enjoy with strong coffee.
Store in an airtight container for 4 days. These bars freeze well.
Adapted from 600 Acres.