Whenever I’m feeling kind of meh, I have a few options. A nap isn’t usually possible (there are small children about), so I can either try to sneak episodes of whatever TLC show is new on Netflix without the li’l ones noticing, or I can make a pie. It’s hard to hide what my iPad is doing, so I think the pie wins this one.
This is JAB’s last week for a while (more on that in a sec), so I wanted to go out strong with some nice fall recipes.
In case you’ve never had a brookie before, it’s just the kind of dessert that inspired me to begin food blogging. A cookie/brownie hybrid deserves a food blog, right?
But you see, these are even better. The bottom layer is a chocolate chip-filled fudgy brownie, and the top is pumpkin chocolate chip cookie dough. I’m so glad brookies are a thing, but even gladder that pumpkin brookies can come out of it!
Almost three years ago, I decided to start Just About Baked. It was a love story to the desserts I push to decadent limits, and a way to write and express my creativity in a way that I hadn’t been able to before. I started this not knowing anything about what I was doing, and boy, did it show.
Those early pics? Don’t look. And as for the rest of it, I learned a lot about so many things. The learning curve was steep, and I was excited to get a chance to absorb whatever I could.
But here’s the rub. All this time, I’ve been doing my first passion during the day, which is teaching. I’ve been teaching full-time in public high school for 17 years. It’s a full-time job and then some. I work a minimum of ten hours each day and then come home to make dinner, do homework with kids, have playtime, put them to bed and then work some more. In case nobody’s ever told you this, grading papers and planning lessons takes forever, for English teachers especially. Case in point? Before I wrote this post today, I spent five solid hours grading about 35 essays. And I’ve got many more to go! Not complaining, but it is what it is.
Somewhere in the middle of having three kids and being a teacher, I needed some additional stimulation. Anyone who knows me realizes that my days are packed, and I like them that way. So I created this site, nurtured it, and managed to keep it fairly functional for a while. Until recently.
Over the summer, I got a lot busier at work thanks to a promotion, and working all day and part of the night all week long is tough enough without having to bake, photograph and organize JAB on weekends. See, I like to hang out with my kids, and that’s more important than social networking. I’m also not that good at social networking, to be honest. It’s always felt uncomfortable to me, like I’m existing in a world that’s not quite real. I also like occasional downtime, and working 24/7 takes that away. Oh, and did I mention that my house is falling apart because there’s no time to fix things or clean up after my three kids?
I like to give what I do time and attention, and it’s not happening on this blog the way it should or could be. I wish I could be Superwoman and just do everything, but nope. I’m not going to hold myself to impossible standards, and I’m not going to let the time I have with my family suffer either. My first professional passion was teaching, and there it stays. Prioritizing has to happen sooner or later.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t still consider myself a baker. It also doesn’t mean that I’ll never pick this up in an official capacity again. However, I need a break. I need time to think about things. It goes against the grain of who I am to do anything that resembles giving up, but I have to show myself some compassion. Better to take some time and figure out whether JAB is a chapter that will continue, or if it’s about to become a piece of my past.
I have one more post later this week that will thank all the lovely people who have helped me over this journey, and that I hope will express how much I’ll miss them. I’m emotional enough that I can’t even write about these pumpkin brookies for now, so just enjoy the pics, okay? I’ll see you in a few days, but for now, already feeling the separation anxiety. It’s been a heckuva ride, and I’ll miss it terribly.
- Preheat the oven to 350. Line an 8 X 8 pan with foil and spray it with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a medium-sized bowl, mix the cocoa into the melted butter until it dissolves. Add the sugar and stir again. When the sugar is incorporated, mix in the vanilla and eggs. Add the salt and flour, mixing until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
- Bake for 20 minutes until mostly set. While the brownie base is baking, prepare the pumpkin chocolate chip layer.
- Combine the melted butter with the two sugars, stirring until smooth. Add the pumpkin puree and vanilla, stirring again until well combined.
- In a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add them to the pumpkin mixture until everything is just incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips.
- At the 20-minute mark, remove the mostly baked brownies from the oven. Carefully spread the pumpkin batter over the top. Return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes until set.
- Cool completely. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container.