No-cable brownies

At 13, I bonded with a girl who had much in common with me.

Ceri and I both came from families that were what you might call ‘technologically challenged’. Neither of us had touch tone phone service – Ceri’s house had a large, black rotary telephone; we had ‘pulse dialing’, which caused the phone to emit long, painfully slow, pulsating beats.

Our parents still listened to Brahms and Mahler on vinyl.

Most alarmingly (children’s services probably should have been called on this one), we were the only kids in the ‘hood without cable TV.

You can find more recipes at

I’m sure at the time we complained heartily about being the only teenagers on the continent not able to watch My So-Called Life – but I think Ceri and I are now secretly proud of this slightly unconventional upbringing.

Our childhood with terrestrial television introduced us to so very many jewels of our country’s pop culture. Could other kids recite Lloyd Roberston’s nightly news sign-off? “And that’s the kind of day it’s been.” Who else’s adolescent crushes were news anchors Ian Hanomansing and Mark Kelley? And we may just be the only people in the under-45 age group who recognize Ceri’s past boss, former Member of Parliament Tina Keeper, as a Canadian television ‘star’ first and foremost. Everyone else was too busy watching My So-Called Life.

This brownie recipe, which comes from her mum, always makes me think of Ceri. I first ate these some time around 1994 in her family’s kitchen and I was hooked.

Many years ago Ceri made this little blue recipe card for me so I could make them whenever I wanted. I think of cable television – or lack thereof – every time I see it.

Mrs A’s Brownies
This is the easiest brownie recipe I know. They are quick to make and so yummy.

1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup cocoa powder
3 tablespoons flour
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350F/176C.

Cream together butter and sugar with an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. (Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to incorporate all the butter-sugar mixture.) Sift in flour, cocoa and salt and fold in until everything is well mixed.

Pour into greased 8 inch or 9 inch square pan. I find these brownies can be tough to get out of the pan intact so you might want to line the pan with parchment paper, too. Bake no more than 15-20 minutes for an 8 inch pan or 20-25 minutes for a 9 inch pan. The cardinal rule for all brownies: do not overbake!

Once the brownies are completely cool, as Ceri wrote, “Enjoy with family, friends and a big glass of milk!”