almond brownie and ice cream

Lately I’ve been thinking about wisdom – the good sense in judgement that one gets from accumulated experience, especially from aging. I’m certainly not old, mind you, but I do hope I’m somewhat more astute than I was at an earlier age.
Just for fun, I searched the internet for books written about wisdom and was not surprised to find that a double standard applies to the sexes. To sum up, men who are wise learn from mistakes and work to improve their skills, their intellect and their lot in life. Women who are wise strive to be better mothers, better wives and even ‘goddesses.’

almond brownie spatula
donkey collage
farm road fog


Almost everything mentioned about wisdom as it relates to women applies to engaging in some activity external to the inner-self. One book went went so far as to say, “a wise woman learns to love her body, even her feet.” This is pretty much the part where I started to choke on my almond fudge brownie. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for self-empowerment, but I’m pretty sure a pedicure isn’t going to get me there.
almond powder
trees in light
house collage
Then I stumbled upon these statistics from the US Census Bureau:
  • Women in the United States represent over half of the population
  • American women have passed men in gaining advanced college degrees and bachelor’s degrees
  • One quarter of all women in the United States are victims of domestic violence
  • Women make only 77 cents for every dollar that men earn for the same work
  • Forty percent of women who head families live in poverty
  • One in five women are without health care
  • The largest segment of Americans living in poverty are elderly women
Obviously, many factors influence these outcomes. At minimum, the weight of the culture works against women and in some countries the statistics are dire.
raspberry ice cream
stacked almond brownie
If male wisdom is rooted in self-development and female wisdom is rooted in self-sacrifice, the results of the latter don’t seem all that promising to me. In fact, all of this reading makes me reflect on my own life and ask what I can do to put it on an even stronger trajectory.
That said, I’m curious about what wisdom you have to share. What have you done for yourself to strengthen who you are and where you’re going?
I also have another question for you. If you could go back in time and offer your younger self at least one piece of wisdom, what would it be? I’m eager hear and I’m sure others are too. After all, a wise person learns from the experience of others.
almond brownie fork
While you’re thinking about it, sit down and enjoy an almond fudge brownie with raspberry ice cream. It may not make you wise but the flavor combination will surely make you smile.
Almond Fudge Brownies
35 g (1/3 c) cocoa powder
80 ml (1/3 c) hot water
70 g (2/3 c) good quality milk chocolate, chopped
80 g (3/4 c) good quality dark chocolate, chopped
150 g unsalted butter (10 1/2 tbs) butter
260 g (1 and 2/3 c) brown sugar
125 g (1 c. plus 1.5 tbs) almond powder
4 eggs separated
1 pinch cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 355 degrees (180 Celsius). Throughly butter glass baking dish. I used a 7.5 X 9.5 x 3 inch square Pyrex dish.
Mix hot water and cocoa together until blended. Set aside.
Place butter and chopped chocolate in a bowl together and melt (just over a 1 minute in the microwave) and stir.
In a mixing bowl combine the cocoa and water mixture with the melted chocolate and butter mixture, the brown sugar, the flour and the egg yolks. Stir until blended with a sturdy wooden spoon.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. The egg whites should stand firm when the whisk is pulled away but remain shiny and flop over a bit at the top. (Note: Do not beat until dry. Also,increase mixer speed gradually while beating the whites.)
Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Pour into a buttered pan and bake until firm, about 45-55 minutes. Keep an eye on it though, as oven times do vary. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out mostly clean with a few crumbs attached. Cool on a wire rack. Slice and let sit uncovered for 4 or 5 hours. The texture will firm up as they sit. Refrigerate until ready to eat.
Raspberry Ice Cream
3 egg yolks
205 g (1 c) sugar
120 g (1/2 c) water
1 pint of fresh red raspberries (the more you add, the stronger the flavor)
pinch of salt
1/2 g (1/8 tsp) xanthan gum (keeps the ice cream creamy when freezing)
16 g (1 tbs) lemon juice
475 ml (2 c) half and half
Puree raspberries and strain to remove seeds.
Place egg yolk in a food processor or blender and set aside. Combine the sugar and water and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Briefly bring the syrup to a boil. With the blender or food processor running on high speed, gradually pour the hot syrup mixture into the egg yolks. (use the feed tube or the opening in to blender cover). Process about 3 minutes until thick and pale yellow. Add to this mixture,the raspberry puree, salt, xanthan gum and lemon juice and blend. Blend in the heavy cream and chill. Process in ice cream machine and freeze.
Bon appetit!


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  1. Thank you very much for writing this, it’s an interesting conversation to be having. I’m still young, I don’t have a younger self. Unless you mean 15 year old me, in which case my advice is: RELAX, be a kid for a while. (I never really was, nor did I want to be. I know I’ll regret that.) To my older self: I sure hope you learned to be conformable in your skin or we’ve got a long road ahead of us.

  2. Beautiful brownies and ice cream! Hmmm… I would say: Don’t worry too much, things will work out.

    The path you are on will get you where you want to go (but I wish now that I had been more focused and driven in years past).

    Minor in a foreign language in college.

  3. I would surly enjoy the brownies and ice cream.
    Note to self:
    While saving for a rainy day is good, just remember to enjoy those sunny days too.

  4. El! It’s always wise to sit down with brownies and ice cream… especially when they’re yours!

    To my younger self I would say: work less and enjoy life more. Maybe I would have listened then. I been saying this to my present self without much success 🙂

    Inspiring post El… As always!

  5. This is really quite interesting El. There are many, many things I’d like to say to my younger self. I agree with what you said and would like to add that it’s important to be careful about who you spend time with because it really affects your life path. I wish I had been pickier! Also, I would tell myself not to get married and have kids at such an early age. I feel like I would have been a better mother and wife if I developed myself first. I do feel like I missed out a on a lot taking care of others. It’s never too late though, right. The brownies and ice cream look incredible as well.

  6. Gorgeous photos! I am so totally with you on this. I’m prepping for the Boston marathon and feel that it’s a serious self-confidence booster so I’d definitely tell mini-me to stay active. I’d also tell her not to worry so much about everything! Things work out somehow.

  7. I agree a lot of the stereotyping of roles hence “wisdom” of growing up has to do with societal preconception. Women’s identity was rarely linked to self but mostly with family. I think that is changing these days and perhaps literature written 20 years from now will read far more equitable than the legacy we have..

    What have I learned ..

    Trust your instinct…

    If a relationship seems unequal in the first two months, it’s unlikely to change for the better no matter how much time you give and for whatever reasons do NOT change to make it work…

  8. Thank you for writing such a thought provoking post. I’m taking a break from work right now to take care of my son, and I’ve been thinking of that question a lot lately. The answer I came up with is: focus, don’t be afraid, and don’t be so hard on yourself. I suspect I would have taken more professional risks and I would have tried harder if I was not afraid of what others thought. I must say though, I could still benefit from that advice today. Fortunately I have a husband who is supportive and has reminded me, “There is no reason that you cannot be a Madeleine Albright.” Madeleine Albright did not start her career until after she had her three daughters.

    So I guess the other piece of advice I would give my younger self and myself now is: It’s never too late to be the person you could have been.

  9. “female wisdom is rooted in self-sacrifice” that is the root of the problem. Society glorifies the self-sacrifice that women engage in making us feel that to live a worthwhile life we must erase ourselves in the process. If anything we could could do more good for others if we took better care of ourselves.

  10. What a fantastic post 🙂 If I could go back and tell my younger self anything it would be – – do what makes YOU happy, don’t worry about anyone else liking or approving of what you do. Chase your dreams, for yourself.

    Also, your brownies and ice cream look heavenly.

  11. I think I’d tell my younger-self that sometimes it takes awhile to figure out what you really want to do in life, and that it just takes a little patience. Oh, and I’d also tell little-me to make/eat more brownies like these 😉

  12. This is interesting and helpful. I’d agree with what others are saying but tell myself a few more.

    People rarely change so if you think you can change a guy your dating, forget it. Move on. Plus, be careful of who you date because a lot of guys are unstable and potentially dangerous. Choose wisely. If you can’t choose wisely, you’re better off alone until you can.

    Do things to build your confidence like classes, work, exercise regularly, learn skills

    Don’t do things to fit in, you’ll regret it later

    Don’t think that one thing is going to make your life better. Shopping won’t. Having a date won’t. Moving won’t. All the work is inside not out.

    Don’t be afraid to work on yourself. Forget what other people say and cut off ties if they don’t support you

  13. Those statitics were so much easier to palate while lookin at your fabulous glory of treats. I heard a comment once – only about 10 people cry at your funeral and of the ones going to your buriel about 50% will stay behind because of the weather. So if the sum of my life is 10 people with hankies, and the rest ruled by rain – well that leaves me pretty free to be who I need to be and now worry about what others think. I choose to be joyful and to do incrediable things. After this life is not a dress rehearsel. And this blog soothes my soul!!!

  14. What a post, and just as my birthday approaches and I sit and reflect on what I have done and what I still have left to do. Funny thing that my sister was raised more “masculine” than I was: she was pushed to acccomplish, achieve, work, study… while I was encouraged to give and be kind and gentle… not that there wasn’t overlap, but if I could go back I would simply show my younger self all that I was capable of doing once I learned that I could – if that makes sense. I would have taught myself to dream big, work hard without fear of what others may think or even of making mistakes. I would try and teach myself that I could search inside myself for my true talents and have the courage to put them to use. Thanks for a thoughtful post. And wonderful brownies and ice cream, just perfect for a birthday girl.

  15. I’m embarrassed to write this so I’m doing it anonymously. I love my kids but if I had to do it all over, I probably wouldn’t have kids again. Like I said, I love them to pieces but NO ONE prepares you for how hard it is. To each is own, I have friends who love parenting (or at least they say they do) but there are many days frankly where I’d just like my life back. I would say to my younger self, don’t have kids because of family pressure. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Though, tea would go really well with these beautiful brownies! 🙂

  16. And I forgot to mention that I really enjoyed reading your words of wisdom here. Given the opportunity, I would have told my (much) younger self that I needn’t have stayed in a marriage when I was not happy and that it should not take me almost three decades to find the wherewithal to go!

  17. This one touches a big, BIG chord.

    Younger self: Forget the boys – they will come later and be far more interesting and interested. Do NOT spend your time fretting or trying to impress. What you become will impress them far more than what you are trying to be.
    Don’t believe that you need a college degree to carve out your place in the world – you may not know what you want to be when you grow up at 17 or 18 and that is OKAY. Prairie farms are NOT the only option.
    Find a mentor.
    Become a skeptic – it will serve you well as a filter. But still don’t forget to believe some impossible/improbable ideas have merit. I am not saying American Idol will save your life, but taking a path you didn’t think was probable can become your salve.

  18. Oh my. Where do I begin?

    I’d like to tell my younger self you’re not invincible. Don’t smoke. When I was diagnosed with cancer I tried to talk to my younger self but it was too late.

    Trust your gut. If you’re with a guy and something feels off. It is. Turn around and walk away.

    You have soooo much potential. Use it. Be fearless. Ignore other people.

  19. Delicious looking brownies and ice cream. The color of the ice cream is so soft and romantic. I think if I had to tell little me something it would be ‘you can handle it.
    Thanks El.

  20. Oh, those statistics are American but could have easily been Brazilian, unfortunately. 🙁

    If I could give my younger self some advice would be to not mind so much what others think of you and to trust yourself more. Anyway, after the shitty childhood and teenage years I had I’m pretty proud of the person I’ve become. 🙂

    Those brownies… Yum! I love baking with almond meal, it makes baked goods so moist! I won’t even start on the ice cream, since I’m crazy for raspberries… 😉

  21. These are beautiful photos, and a delicious looking recipe. Pair those with some sound advice, and I love this post! I would step back and tell my younger self to relax a little, forget about the other kids and what they think. Just enjoy the moment. Don’t wait to travel until you get to university. Don’t study something you don’t love.
    Have more fun!

  22. travel more and do not be afraid of what the “little” people think of me… this has shaped so much of what my personal life is today and regret no having taken action on doing that…
    As for my professional life… I have so much to say but I guess it all sums up to not being too emotional, instead be more cold hearted and and level headed. My career needed all that to move it in the right direction.
    I am at a point where so many things are at stake that my positive outlook is what keeps me going and so far has taken me quite far…
    I guess we have to balance out lives and chose our battles and tackle every challenge with the best attitude.

  23. I’ve waited a while to write this because there’s so much to think about. Career wise I would say to leave your personal life at home. Is okay to be friendly and socialble but you will never get ahead if you come into work and discuss your personal issues. Behave professionally at all times. Don’t be afraid to ask for a raise.just be prepared to justify why you deserve it. Financially I’d say hang on to your money! Most of what you buy in your twenties goes directly into the trash can in your thirties. Save it instead. Personally I’d that being skeptical is more important than positive or wishful thinking. Value your own time too. Then I’d give myself a big hug and ne of these brownies!!!!

  24. What a sad statistic about elderly women living in poverty. Having just lost my health insurance, my outlook has recently been a bit grim. Perhaps the doctor prescribed me with a nonstop sweet tooth to keep all sickness away? That probably wouldn’t be the dentist’s prescription…

    As silly as it sounds, I would tell my slightly younger self to use a lot more moisturizer – my career in the outdoors is going to wear down my face quickly, I just know it.

    And I don’t know… not sure how to staunch my elaborate and over-developed emotions. Others seem to think I should push them aside, but it’s always been that way. I’m pretty happy with who I am… even if I’m not always happy.

    Thank you for providing an outpost for me to think through these thoughts. Having never made brownies before, I may just give these a try !

  25. To my 15-year old self:
    Know that you have a right to dream and then take the steps to make them come true, no matter what. No one has a right to tell you that you can’t “because you are a girl” or whatever.


    this is a wonderful conversation you initiated here, thank you from the bottom of my heart!

    Btw, the modern version of “because you are a girl” is “your CV and job experience are fantastic, you would be the perfect person for the job, but our clients prefer dealing with males”.

  26. Amazing post. Not even sure where to begin. My boss keeps threatening us with layoffs & I feel like I’m regressing age 20 with fear. I’ve been unable to find another job in my field. What am I supposed to do with my house and kids in school? I’m already underwater with my mortgage. I do think I’ll have to move but right now the layoffs are still threats. I’m so stressed out. After reading this, I’m trying to see myself 20 years from now and look back on this experience. I’m hoping it’s like all of the things i went through 20 years ago, that I look back at and say ‘why were you so worried? you handled it.’ I’m having trouble having perspective here. What should I tell my younger self 20 years from now? Does anyone have any advice?? I feel like I can’t breathe. A brownie and ice cream would definitely help. Sorry for venting El. Beautiful work, as usual.

  27. I posted an essay about introspection and how an honest look inward can sometimes bring to light just how far we are from truly knowing ourselves. It’s almost discouraged for a woman to be so sure of herself or her dignity.

    Younger self: live today like it’s going to be your last, but make sure you take good care of yourself in the likely case that you will be wrong…

  28. To my younger self…
    Stop trying to please those that will never be happy
    You will find your passion, trust the process it takes to discover it
    Slow down, you need to enjoy this time, it will pass at light speed

    Thanks for this post El, wonderfully thought provoking.

  29. i still cannot understand why women cannot make the same amount of money as men? i mean really.
    And yes, the older I get the more I realize I just do not need all these material things–just cookbooks. I kid. You know that.
    But I have to tell you, that photo of the donkeys? Reminds me of when I was younger, on our farm we had donkeys and horses and such…and those damn donkeys would always get loose, run down the dirt road, and onto the main road, running towards the feed store to obviously get feed. They drove me insane because they always broke loose when I was home alone with them. Pain in my ass to go get them and drag their sorry butts down the highway back home. 🙂

  30. Fantastic post! We would hope that such stereotypes would be a thing more thought of in past generations, but I guess not. I think it is important to know that these things do exist, but only in order to move forward.
    Wisdom is indeed something that comes from experience, but is also partly how well we know ourselves. I agree with Sylvie…if we do not take care of ourselves and our needs, we are no good to others really.
    Your brownies and ice cream look amazing, and the photos are stunning!

  31. Gorgeous countryside photos as always. There is nothing like homemade ice-cream with the freshest ingredients. Couple it with brownies .. wow – a dessert in heaven!

  32. Dear younger self,

    You’re a lot more capable than others would have you think. Don’t be afraid to let your real self shine through and don’t let social expectations and obligations rule your life.

    Older self.

  33. These are gorgeous photos. I especially like the snow-covered path with trees above. Ahh…wisdom…what would I tell my younger self? I’m not sure, but I don’t mind brownies and ice cream while figuring that out. 🙂

  34. What a wonderful post! So special…

    I do follow your beautiful blog since a while now. I love your pictures, your recipes. Every time I’m here I feel like in a dream. Thank you for spending all these special moments with us.

    And these brownies and ice… Well, I would appreciate to have a bite 🙂

    Feel hugged, Gina

  35. I agree with the advice about ignoring people. I suppose that also means not asking for their advice. I would also say keep learning new things. Learning build confidence. Get out there and do something productive and meaningful with your life. Don’t let anything or anyone get in your way. Thoughtful and tasty post. I need chocolate.

  36. Bed and Breakfast- I appreciate your comment. In terms of gender related equality measures such as justice, health, education, economics and politics, the US lags behind many other countries including Iceland, Sweden, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Switzerland & Norway, to name a few. Only in the last few years in the Global Gender Gap report did the US shoot up from 31st place to 19th. Our infant mortality rate, one of the best predictors of the health of a nation, stands at 34 with even Cuba ahead of us.

  37. Beautiful post visually but disturbing in the statistics you cite. Not that I don’t know they are true but all together in one place they are hard to read.

    I fear for myself in those statistics. I put all of my eggs into the husband and family basket so when he walked out and left myself and two kids and was determined to not be financially responsible, the system was on his side. I worked like a dog to support and provide for our children and today, now that they are grown, I do have some serious concerns about my future.

    Why? Well, I did everything I could to make sure they had what I thought necessary and I’m proud of that but the effort to raise children without any assistance from their other parent takes its toll physically, personally and professionally and I might have done more than I should have to make up for an errant father and failed to protect my future.

    Maybe I should not have helped send my daughter on a college choir tour when I couldn’t afford to put money into a retirement fund…those type of decisions.

    Decisions I probably should not have had to make. I reread your statistics and though it’s been many years one thing has not changed. Too many parents are not expected to pay their fair share of what it takes to support their children. In order to do that I could not afford health insurance or retirement savings. Good thing I’m a strong woman; I’ll probably have to work until the day I die!

  38. Barbara- I can only imagine the challenges you faced. It’s a shame we don’t have a stronger safety net to support people so that they can both support their children and retire without fear. I appreciate your sharing this.

  39. I’m amazed by this post and what people have said. I’m 33 and I have no retirement savings, my parents keep telling me they want “grandchildren” even though I’m not even dating and I spend most of my paycheck on eating out, traveling and buying designer clothes. I’m def. not in high school but still feel a lot of pressure to keep up with what everybody else is doing. I’m also freaked out that I’m not married yet. Everyone I know is getting married. After reading what people have said here I think I have some work to do. Thanks El. Gorgeous photos too!!!

  40. I enjoyed reading this post and I loved the look of those brownies so much they are cooling on my counter now.

    Just so you know, there is a typo in the recipe. 125 grams of almond flour is far more than 1/3 cup of almond flour. I used closer to 1 cup plus another 1/3 cup before I hit the 125 grams. So far so good, I’m going to leave them on the counter all night to harden.

    Thanks for the recipe! Have a blessed night.

  41. Where have I been? I swear, the longer I blog the more horrible I am at it. But of course, I have something to say to this (and thanks, because I enjoy your thoughts…)

    I had seen very similar statistics and so although not a surprise, a similar disturbing impact. Since I was raised by a single mother who is a whiz at frugality, I managed to grow up not realizing we were poor. Advice to my younger self? Don’t assume no one will be interested in what you have to think or say — work to be visible. To my older self — half my life is ahead of me, so make it the very best it can be. (lovely photos as always…)

  42. Dear Younger self,

    If you don’t want to do something, say no. Here is the polite way: Thank you so much for thinking of me but I’ll pass. No further explanation is required.

    Collect your friends carefully. A good friend energizes you in equal proportions to the amount they deplete you. If you identify an energy vampire, show them compassion, let their therapist fix their problems and back away, slowly, carefully, and without guilt.

    Invest your money in the following three things: Health, good food, and education. You will never regret it and no one can take it from you.

    And above all, don’t wait until you are 30 to bake these brownies. They are so so so good.

    Thank you so much for this blog. It inspires me to bake, think and enjoy each and every gorgeous photo.

  43. Dear Younger self,

    If you don’t want to do something, say no. Here is the polite way: Thank you so much for thinking of me but I’ll pass. No further explanation is required.

    Collect your friends carefully. A good friend energizes you in equal proportions to the amount they deplete you. If you identify an energy vampire, show them compassion, let their therapist fix their problems and back away, slowly, carefully, and without guilt.

    Invest your money in the following three things: Health, good food, and education. You will never regret it and no one can take it from you.

    And above all, don’t wait until you are 30 to bake these brownies. They are so so so good.

    Thank you so much for this blog. It inspires me to bake, think and enjoy each and every gorgeous photo.

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