The Castle Brownie Contest
“Where’s Jill?” Heather asked when she entered the loft.
Tanesha pointed toward Jill’s office door.
“She’s working,” Sandy gave Heather a ‘You know how she is’ look. She went into the kitchen area to set down her brownies. Tanesha turned on the electric kettle and began taking out mugs for tea.
“Working? I thought she was on bed rest,” Heather said.
“She was a little stir crazy, so Jake gave her a few more projects to do,” Sandy whispered. “She’s actually thrilled.”
Heather gave a rueful shake of her head.
“I’ll get her,” Tanesha walked half way across the loft. “Jill!”
“What?” Jill yelled from her office.
“We’re all waiting your highness,” Tanesha laughed.
“Oh shoot.” There was a scuffling and scrambling sound from Jill’s office. Scooter ran out with Jill right behind. “I thought I had more time.”
For someone as round with babies as Jill was at that moment, she moved very quickly across the loft. While Sandy and Heather watched, she grabbed the ingredients for her brownies from the cupboard.
“You haven’t made yours?” Heather asked.
“It only takes a minute,” Jill turned on the oven. “Plus, I thought I had more time. I’ve been working on…”
Jill wiggled her eyebrows and nodded to Tanesha.
“Jer’s making good money on this movie so he wants Jill and Jake to fix the basement and his new studio,” Tanesha said. “Jill snuck in some posh stuff for our master bath and kitchen. It’s going to be nice.”
As if they were at a tennis match, the women’s heads moved back and forth following Jill as she made her brownies.
“Can you change the plan at this point?” Heather asked.
“If it’s not anything structural,” Tanesha said. “That’s all set.”
“It’s just fun finish stuff,” Jill said over the sound of her ancient handheld mixer. “I have the chore of looking through endless catalogs for exactly what’s right. It’s a terrible burden.”
The girlfriends chuckled and Jill smiled.
“Mommy!” Katy yelled and the door to the loft banged open.
“Here,” Jill said.
Katy ran inside. She was about a foot from the kitchen when she caught sight of the brownies. She stopped short.
“Wh… um…” She tried to look casual. “What are you doing?”
“We’re having a brownie contest,” Tanesha picked up Katy and set her on a bar stool.
“We are?” Jill asked.
“I don’t like it but…” Sandy started.
“Where’s the brownie contest?” Charlie asked as he came in the loft. Nash and Noelle followed close behind.
“It’s a friendly competition,” Tanesha said. “The winner gets to donate the money to the scholarship fund.”
“Isn’t it horrible?” Jill said as she put her brownies into a greased pan.
“What?” Sandy asked.
“They’re closing Pete’s Kitchen for ‘remodeling,’” Jill made the air quotes with her gooey hands. “But they laid every one off. Everyone.”
“Even Lorraine?” Tanesha asked. “She’s worked there for more than twenty years.”
“Everyone,” Jill said. “Even me!”
“Wow,” Heather said. “What are they going to do?”
“Look for jobs, that’s what they’re doing,” Jill said. “So if we can raise more money for the scholarship fund by having a little contest, I’m all for it.”
She pulled a brownie laden beater from the mixer and held it out to Katy.
“Katherine Anjelika Roper Marlowe!! What are you doing?” Jill’s voice was hard.
Katy’s mouth was full of brownie. Her big dark eyes looked up at her mother. As if her mind was trying to come up with the right answer, her eyes blinked.
“We haven’t started yet,” Jill shoved her brownies into the warmed oven and went to the refrigerator for milk. Heather set out glasses for Jill to pour into. “Do you see anyone else eating brownie?”
Katy pointed to Charlie, whose cheeks were plump with brownie. When Katy mouth was clear, she took a drink of milk.
“But Mommy,” Katy said. “These brownies are Delphie’s brownies. And the competition is between you and Auntie Sandy and Auntie Heather and Auntie Tanesha. Not Delphie!”
“I made those,” Tanesha said.
“No,” Katy shook her head vehemently. “I eat Delphie’s brownies every single day for… for forever. I’d know them anywhere.”
“I don’t know about that, sugar,” Tanesha gave Katy another brownie. “This recipe came from my Momma.”
“It’s Yvonne’s recipe,” Delphie said as she moved into the kitchen area from the door. “She taught me how to make lots of things.”
Mike and Valerie came into the loft from the stairs. They moved into the kitchen area.
“Because I didn’t have a family or kids, I just cooked whatever I could. Microwave popcorn, mostly,” Delphie said. “Yvonne thought the whole thing was kind of sad so she set about teaching me how to cook and shop. She knew so much about food and growing food that when we moved here I started a garden. She couldn’t help me at that time, of course. I had to learn on my own. But there’s no question, most of my recipes came from Yvonne. That one is no exception.”
“So I made Yvonne’s Delphie brownies,” Tanesha smiled. She leaned over Katy and kissed her cheek. “How’s that?”
Her mouth full, Katy made an affirmative noise.
“I don’t care where the recipe came from,” Noelle reached across the bar for a brownie. “I think they are good.”
Tanesha’s brownie – recipe created and submitted by Liz, the Moonlit Chef at Cooking by Moonlight