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Loving Chocolate!

I was feeling a little chocolate deprived earlier today, so I thought I would share this amazing brownie recipe with you!  I’m not sure where it comes from but my aunt is the one who originally shared it with me.  And so the legend continues…

“Real Fudge Brownies”

1 cup butter or margarine, 4 squares unsweetened chocolate, 2 cups sugar, 4 eggs, 2 tsp vanilla, 1.5 cups flour, 1 cup chopped walnuts optional

-Grease a 9×13 pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt chocolate and butter in pan on stove-top, remove from heat and stir in sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla, be careful not to over-beat.  Stir in flour (and nuts or etc.) and spread evenly in pan.  Bake for 30 minutes or until fork comes out clean.  Do not over-bake.

“Real Fudge Frosting”

6 tbs margarine, 6 tbs evaporated milk, 1 & 1/3 cup sugar, 1/2 cup chocolate chips, 4 large marshmallows (or 5 if you want extra creamy)

-Mix butter, sugar and milk in a heavy saucepan.  Heat slowly until mixture is boiling.  Once mixture reaches rolling boil, let it cook another 1 minute.  Remove from heat and immediately add chocolate chips and marshmallows.  Beat mixture with mixer until spreading consistency (note that if you add an additional marshmallow it will take longer to reach desired thickness).  You can easily frost brownies when they are just 5 minutes out of the oven- frosting will thicken to fudge-like consistency once spread on brownies as well.

These brownies are fantastic, and I will say that the frosting is well worth the effort!  It is not so super-sweet that it takes away from the flavor of the brownies, but because it is basically a quick & thin fudge it adds another whole layer of flavor on top of the most decadent brownies you will ever enjoy 🙂

If you try the recipe, be sure to let me know how they turned out!

Kids and Video Games

No Video Games

Image via Wikipedia

It has come up countless times in the last 20 years how kids relate to video games.  Do they desensitize our children to violence?  Do they kill brain cells, or encourage lazy children to stay on the couch rather than play outside or form relationships?  Considering that both my husband and I have enjoyed video games since childhood, I tend to have not only strong opinions on these issues, but like to think that I am somewhat well-informed.  I think what it comes down to is deciding how each particular factor will affect your child, and acting accordingly.

Most parents are very aware of how their children cope with certain issues, and what their likely reaction will be.  They are also typically very aware of their system of beliefs and morals, and what they do and do not want their child experiencing.  Therefore, you can very easily say, “I see no harm in my child enjoying educational or certain recreational video games for _ hours a week, but I don’t want them playing any games with excessive violence.” Which, I’d like to point out for those of you who don’t already know is really a non-issue at this point anyway.  Most games that I DO believe rub on the moral fiber of our society (such as the Grand Theft Auto series- which, while fun/funny if you are old enough and intelligent enough to not take seriously, is incredibly inappropriate for most children under the age of 18) are now restricted with an “M” rating, not available to anyone under 17 to even purchase, and that is a VERY strictly enforced rule (the fine and prison sentence are both more severe than purchasing alcohol for a minor in the US).

What I think in short terms is that in most cases video games are incredibly useful.  Starting at a young age a child can learn how to read, spell, write, critically think and problem solve pretty self-sufficiently.  Although they are not the “all-powerful teaching tool” many resources would have you think, they can be great for teaching children to think for themselves, solve problems on their own without someone to fall back on, and give them a kind of comfort and familiarity with technology that is invaluable in the modern world.  It is a proven fact that a child with multiple outlets for learning- books, television, games, computers, social relationships- will have a more developed vocabulary, more efficient thinking skills, and more articulate speech.  Although sometimes not as prevalent, video games can also teach a sense of responsibility, increase hand-eye coordination, and inspire creative thinking.

Given all of this, I would have to say that what I honestly believe it comes down to (as it usually does) is good parenting.  If you are responsible enough to consider the effects of video games on your child in the first place, then I’m sure parents are dedicated enough to know when their child’s experience has passed from “educational/enjoyable” and into unhealthy and burdensome.  Much like having dessert, video games are fantastic in moderation, and when experienced in the appropriate format can only enhance a child’s learning environment.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue!