The smoke filled air instantly takes me back to standing in the smoking porch of a favorite pub, years ago now. Almost another life. I watch the dazed people look up from their gaming machines. They meander around as if possessed, plunking more cash into the slots. At the tables, the dealers’ hands flash and fluidly swoop up another round of cards. My sister, and then my friend, squeal when up a few and then subsequently moan when all of it is lost. The lady across the aisle sits reclined and relaxed, one elegant hand holding a long cigarette, the other poised on the ‘bet 5’ button. The woman two seats down banks $1,500 on a quarter machine. Her carefully contained delight emanates the space as she makes plans to see her friends there again within the week.
I delight in nothing more than watching these people, knowing this is not my place. I’m not a smoker. Or a gambler. Not necessarily even a drinker. Oddly enough, this place, this observational haven, reminds me of who I want to be.
W reminded me recently that how I see myself and how I present myself don’t always coordinate with each other. Analyzing this statement and realizing he’s correct got me thinking. I value authenticity, yet don’t always live authentically. Often when surrounded by family, I retreat into a shell and only show the pieces that can’t be so easily criticized. I camouflage how I truly feel because I think someone else will be aided by my self-sacrifice, or I long to avoid conflict and judgement.
As I sit surrounded by people delighting in only the next moment in a smoke-studded casino, I realize they don’t care what anyone else thinks. Heck, they don’t even care about what’s going on in their own lives in this moment. For the moment, they are all-in.
That’s who I want to be. A person that chooses to confront controversy, to embrace how I feel, to present the same person to the outside as I feel inside, despite another’s observation, perhaps in their eyes coming up short. To live a life that’s all-in every experience.
That’s what I did with these brownies. I wanted chocolate and nectarines, the ones on the counter going soft. Not in a pastry or cobbler or something usual. In something gooey and cakey. Yet still with a tinge of health and nutrients. I’m being true to myself now after all. My gluten-free flour blend has a bit of buckwheat in it so it has the fairest hint of a rustic tone, I threw in some honey from my uncle’s bees, a small zucchini, and used extra virgin olive oil. The result was exactly me. Exactly what I wanted to taste and share.Summer Brownies with Zucchini and Nectarines, adapted from Happyolks
- 1 cup grated zucchini
- 2 cups grated, smashed or finely chopped nectarines with juice
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2.5 cups gluten free flour blend
- 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2.25 tsp baking powder