Friday, April 30, 2010

Call Me

My census training finished up last night, so now I'm now fully trained to do enumeration work.  One of last night's exercises was to go out with another trainee for a couple of hours of field work.  It was scary to interview the first person to complete the census form, but it was easier the second time, and I have no doubt that soon it will be routine.

I think the biggest challenge for this job is going to be finding people at home.  There's a procedure we follow if no one answers the door; one of the tasks is leaving a "Sorry I missed you" sheet that gives our contact information, including a phone number.  I was trying to decide if I should include my home or cell number (neither of which I was thrilled about leaving with strangers) when a classmate threw out another option, a pay-as-you-go phone. That way you'd have a dedicated number just for census calls, and there wouldn't be any safety or security issues.

This afternoon I went to my local big box electronics store and  bought the cheapest pay-as-you-go phone I could find.  When I was checking out, the clerk started on his spiel about how I could buy an extended warranty for the phone; I nicely cut him off and told him it wasn't necessary.  How was he supposed to know this phone was just for temporary use?

When I opened the phone package, I felt vaguely secret agent-ish. In the movies, cell phones are  used to transmit secret information, and the caller is unknown.  However, my phone doesn't offer complete anonymity.  As part of the online setup process, I had to provide my name, home phone number, and e-mail address.  Since I'm not planning on using the phone for any nefarious purpose, that wasn't a problem. Within ten minutes of taking the phone out of the package I had a phone number to associate with my new phone.

The phone's now charged and tucked away in my Census bag, ready for action.  I don't know how much I'll be using the phone, but it came with some minutes which expire two months from now.  Coincidentally, that's just about the time my Enumerator authorization expires.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My First Census Adventure

Today was Day 3 of Census Enumerator training.  After two hours of sitting in an art classroom on hard, backless stools, we got a dinner break.  I ate, then decided to stretch my legs by walking through the campus of the middle school training location before I had to go sit for the rest of the evening..

This school has a long covered walkway with a building on either side.  Each building has multiple entrances along its length.  Some of them are at ground level, and some are up a couple of stairs (or a handicapped ramp).

I started at one end of the walkway and briskly strolled towards the opposite end, walking up each flight of stairs and jogging down the corresponding ramp.  At the end of the walkway, I turned to the left, walked completely around one of the buildings, then started the circuit again.

As I passed one of the doorways for the second time, I saw a sign that indicated the area was under video surveillance.  I laughed to myself; surely a middle-aged woman out for her evening constitutional wouldn't need to worry about that, but right after I walked by the next door, a school employee was standing there,  asking me if  I needed any help.

I quickly told him what I was up to and slunk away.  All of a sudden I didn't feel like walking anymore.

Monday, April 26, 2010

You Count

Last year I worked as an Enumerator for the U.S. Census Bureau.  (If you're interested, you can read about my adventures HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.  I'll wait.)

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that every 10 years (including 2010), the Census Bureau tries to count every person in the country.  If you live in the U.S., in late March or early April you received a form in the mail, with instructions to fill it out and send it back in.  Most people followed the directions (75% of them in St. Louis County) and returned the form.  However, that leaves quite a few who didn't; starting May 1st, they'll get a friendly Enumerator knocking on their door.

Back in March the local Census Bureau office left a message on my answering machine asking if I was interested in working again this year.  The message indicated I needed to call them if I was available; if I didn't call they'd assume I wasn't.  I was pretty sure the work would interfere with my teacher assistant job, so I didn't return the call.

However, a few weeks ago I had not one, but two messages on my phone informing me about job openings when I got home from work one day.  Evidently they hadn't taken my name off their list.  After giving it a bit of thought, I decided that even though it would make me very busy to do both jobs, it was for a limited amount of time, and I could handle it. 

So every day this week after I finish my "day job" I'll have a bit of time to kill before I attend Census worker training for five hours.  After that I'll be working afternoons and evenings talking with people who didn't turn in their census forms. I suspect I won't have a lot of free time for the next month or so! 

Sunday, April 25, 2010


We're just a couple of weeks away from our big social event of the year...the marriage of Son Brian to the beautiful Nicole.  Since Brian is the first of our boys to get married, Tony and I were stumped as to what to get them for a wedding present. However, I had an inspiration the other day, and today we visited a pottery studio to pick it out.

We decided to have a signature platter made to commemorate Nicole and Brian's big day.  The decorated bisque ware platter will be at the reception so all the guests can sign it (with a regular pen). After the wedding we'll bring it back to the studio, where they'll trace over each of the signatures with the correct paint, then glaze and fire it.

There were a lot of choices involved with this gift....the size and shape of the platter, the decorations on it, and the color of those decorations. Tony and I chose a rimmed platter that will be big enough to hold all the guest's signatures.  The studio had a three-ring notebook filled with clip art and other sample decorations to choose from which made that part a bit easier, and they gave us some color suggestions so it was easy to choose from the dozens that were available.

I'll go back next weekend, pick up the decorated plate, and add it to my growing pile of things that we'll be taking with us to the wedding.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Song

Every day I get an e-mail mediation from Fr. Richard Rohr, the founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation.  Yesterday's was entitled In What Aspects of Nature Am I Most Able to See the Eternal Goodness of God?. Quite appropriate for Earth Day.

One of the themes of the message was that we've lost our connection with nature.  Fr. Rohr suggested that it might be a good thing to walk outside barefoot, like Saint Francis of Assisi did, and experience “Sister Earth, our Mother”.  For some reason that thought resonated with me, and I decided to act on it today.  If it's not raining, my preschool class goes outside for 30 minutes in the morning and afternoon.  I decided to wear flip-flops to work today in case the opportunity to slip off my shoes and play in the grass presented itself. 

This morning I put on a pair of jeans, then picked out one of the school logo-ed shirts hanging in my closet.  I decided the kelly green one would be appropriate in honor of the day.  It felt strangely decadent to pass on shoes and slide my feet into the black flip-flops I wear around the house instead.  I had a bit of extra time before I left for work, so I put a coat of bright pink nail polish on my visible toenails. 

Sadly, I didn't get the chance to take off my shoes feel the grass, but I did get a piece of rubber mulch from the swing set wedged between my foot and shoe, which was easy to shake out.  I had one teacher say something about my shirt, and one of the boys noticed my toenails.  He told me that he loved them, and I realized I did too.

When I got home from work I changed my clothes (but kept the footwear) and went outside to check on the garden. Before I stepped over the chicken-wire fence, I decided to take off my shoes and feel the dirt.  It hasn't rained for a few days, so it's pretty dry, but it felt great on my toes.  Sister Earth, indeed.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


In his post today, Stewart Sternberg of The House of Sternberg introduced me to Wordle, a Website that generates word clouds (visual representations of the content) from text. The more frequently a word is used in the source text, the more prominently it shows up in the cloud.

The site is easy to use. You can create a Wordle by pasting text or entering a URL. The images you create are yours to use in any way you choose (even for commercial purposes). There is also an option to save them to a gallery on the Website where they're available for anyone to view.

As an experiment, I copied and pasted in my last blog post, "Carry That Weight".  Here's the result:

I liked the way it looked, but if you don't, you can change the appearance by using different fonts, layouts, and color schemes.

I suspect I'm not done playing with this Website.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Carry That Weight

It was such a beautiful morning Tony and I decided to combine our exercise with an errand.  We walked to the nearest Schnucks grocery store (a couple of miles each way) so Tony could pick up some things he needed to prepare dinner.

On the way home I mentioned that the aerobic exercise was great, but if I'd gone to the gym I could also use the machines to work on my arm muscles.  Tony jokingly referred to the two cans of pinto beans he was carrying in his bag, saying I was welcome to carry those while I walked.

I thought about it and decided to take him up on his offer.  Each of the cans weighed almost a pound (15 1/2 ounces,to be precise).  I held a can in each hand and used them like dumbbells. First I raised both of my arms straight out in front of my body while holding the weights. After a few repetitions, I raised my arms up to the side level with my shoulders, then did the same thing but bent my arms at the elbows so they touched my shoulders.  I did bicep curls, one arm at a time, as I walked up a hill; it actually gave me extra momentum!  The can's liquid sloshed around in the cans as I moved them up and down.  I wondered if I was harming the contents in any way, but I decided that beans were pretty sturdy.

The traffic was light in the subdivision so no one but Tony witnessed my feats.  Once we were home I set my "weights" on the counter where they turned back into ordinary cans of beans.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I Love A Parade

Today I got to be in a parade!

Variety the Children's Charity of St. Louis has been around for more than 75 years. They help children with physical and mental disabilities.  Since some of the special needs children at the preschool I work at have benefited from their programs, the school put together a group to march in Variety parade (which took place in downtown St. Louis near Union Station) this morning.

Although the parade didn't begin until 10:00, we were asked to arrive at 9:00.  We got checked in, then moved to our assigned spot to wait.  Our group was a combination of staff, parents, current students, and graduates of the program.  There were several decorated wagons, a couple of three-wheeler bikes, and a stroller.

The parade was supposed to start right after the singing of the National Anthem.  However, we had to wait around for another ten minutes.  First someone on the stage made an opening speech (which we couldn't hear particularly well from where we were standing), then the groups in front of us had to get moving.  Finally it was our turn to go.  As each group passed the stage, the MC introduced it. Everyone in our group cheered when we heard the school's name.  There was a marching band two units ahead of us; their music was infectious, and I found myself walking in rhythm along with the percussion.

Our group handed out little containers of bubbles to the spectators along the parade route. I tried to make sure that everyone who wanted a container, both adults and children, got some.  You're never too old for bubbles!  At the end of the parade we lined up along the street and watched the units behind us.   My box of bubbles wasn't empty yet, so I offered them to a group who had just finished; the bubbles were gone quickly.

This parade had everything!  I saw a lot of walking groups like ours, but there was also some support dogs with their trainers, and a collection of children in wheelchairs with their attendants.  There were some Shriners with their little cars, a few floats and balloons,  and an Elvis impersonator riding in the back of a classic car.

The parade took one hour from start to finish. Afterwards there was a party in Aloe Plaza, but I passed on it. It was time to get back home.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Every Picture Tells A Story

Each spring and fall I change up our bedroom with different bed linens and accessories.  Today I took the "winter" duvet cover off the comforter, removed the bed skirt, and gathered up all the dark-colored accessories.  I dressed the bed with the "summer" cover and bed skirt and got out the new set of artwork and accessories.  I've collected the items over the years, and each of them has a story.

The knockoff Cabbage Patch doll was a present to my mom in the early 1980s. I had a friend of hers make it.  She's wearing a Beijing Olympics hat that we purchased on our trip to China in 2005, before the event was even on the radar for non-athlete Americans.  The tulips were a hostess gift from a progressive dinner we were part of, and the dish belonged to Tony's great uncle Clem.

Montego Bay was one of the ports we stopped at the second time we cruised as a family.  While we were there I bought an embroidered t-shirt that met an untimely death; I liked the embroidery so much I cut it out and framed it.  The blue box was a present from a friend, who got it from another friend who was a missionary.  Tony gave me the white wicker basket filled with small potted plants; the yellow silk roses were actually bought from a craft store.

The frame on the left holds a cross-stitch sampler my friend Sydney gave me for a birthday present way back in 1989. (She was thoughtful enough to write the date on the back.)  The silhouette of Son Donald is from early elementary school.

When I was done reminiscing, I hung the frames, arranged the things on the shelves, and took a look around the room.  What a lot of memories it holds!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Can You Believe It?

Fifty years ago today, on April 14, 1960, Motown Records was incorporated by Berry Gordy Jr.

I can't imagine what things would have been like without the Motown Sound; their roster of artists reads like a "Who's Who" of 1960's and early 1970's popular music:  Martha and the Vandellas ("Dancing in the Street"), Smokey Robinson and the Miracles ("The Tears of a Clown"), The Temptations ("My Girl"), The Four Tops ("Reach Out I'll Be There"), Diana Ross and the Supremes ("Stop! In the Name of Love"), Gladys Knight and the Pips ("I Heard It Through the Grapevine"), The Jackson 5 ("ABC"), Stevie Wonder ("Superstition"), and Marvin Gaye ("What's Going On") all recorded for the label, as did later artists like Rick James, Lionel Richie, Boyz II Men, Erykah Badu, and India.Arie.

Although Motown is most famous for its releases in the genres of pop, rhythm and blues, soul, and hip hop, I was surprised to learn on Wikipedia that over the years the label has owned or distributed releases from more than 45 subsidiaries in varying genres, including gospel, jazz, rock, spoken word, country, New Wave, and Latin.

Can you name the artist and title of these 10 Motown hits? If they're not all familiar, don't worry. The answers are revealed at the end.

Monday, April 12, 2010

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em

Both of our cats, Jackson and Pepper, have typical cat personalities.  They're aloof except when they want something, like food.

They get fed right before we go to bed...Jackson's bowl is in the laundry room on the main level and Pepper's is upstairs in the master bathroom.  After Jackson gets his food we never see him again; Pepper eats then leaves, but comes back at some point, jumps on the bed, and curls up at the bottom by Tony's feet.

Last night, though, was different.  Tony was already sleeping by time I came to bed, and Pepper came to greet me when I was in the bathroom.  He followed me, tail up in the air, and jumped up on the bed before I could lay down.  I moved him out of the way, then climbed in bed and pulled the covers up to my chin. As I was settling in to go to sleep, I sensed a presence. I opened my eyes to see Pepper's nose six inches away from my face. He was delighted to see that I was awake. It was time to play!

I showed him "his" spot down by Tony's feet. A few seconds later, he was walking between us back up to the top of the bed.  He climbed over me, sat down, and started purring loudly.  Once again I moved him, and once again he was back.  He laid down next to me, but his tail kept moving, hitting me on the arm each time.  I'd had enough, so I gave him a gentle nudge and sent him to the floor.

Just as I was getting settled again, Pepper was back.  He walked up to my pillow and sat down. Unfortunately, it was on my hair. I pushed him out of the way and directed him back to the end of the bed. Thirty seconds later he was back on the pillow; he stretched out around my head and started purring.

I gave up. Since I was really tired, it wasn't too hard to go to sleep.  I have no idea what time Pepper moved on, but he wasn't there when I woke up in the morning.

Saturday, April 10, 2010



MMMM..Beef jerky.

When I got a food dehydrator for Christmas two years ago, it was one of the things I wanted to make.  However, somehow that never happened.  I've made hamburger jerky and dried all kinds of fruits and vegetables, but never got around to the dehydrating a hunk of meat.  Now, though, I've done it.  I've made my first batch of beef jerky.

Son Brian was my mentor for this project.  He's gone through the process several times, so when I had questions I went straight to him.  After getting all the information and gathering the necessary special ingredients, I was ready to get started.

What's the best type of beef for jerky?  Brian recommended a top round or eye of round roast, and indicated that the butcher would be willing to slice it "jerky thin" (i.e.,1/4" thick) for me. At the grocery store yesterday, though, the only round roasts weighed more than four pounds, larger than the capacity o(f my dehydrator.  I )decided that for my first try I'd buy a round steak; it only weighed a pound, so it wouldn't make very much jerky, but the size was manageable, and I could do the slicing myself.

In addition to the meat, most jerky recipes call for two types of ingredients.  There's a dry rub which consists of the curing mix and spices, and a liquid marinade that helps tenderize and flavor the meat.  I bought a curing salt mixture that contains sodium nitrate and nitrite, which protects against nasty things like botulism bacteria which thrive in low cooking temperatures.  The highest setting on the dehydrator is 155 degrees.

According to Brian, everything but the proportion of curing salts to meat is negotiable. My dry rub consisted of brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, and red pepper, which I rubbed into the steak strips. When I opened the refrigerator to see what we had in the way of wet ingredients, I was inspired by a jar of pickles with one lone piece floating in it. A bit of the pickle brine mixed with a big squeeze of honey make a sweet-sour mixture that I poured over the meat.  I covered the dish and put it in the refrigerator for eight hours.  Right before bedtime I spread the strips on the dehydrator racks and started the whole thing up.  A wonderful smell was wafting through the house by time I brushed my teeth and made it to bed. When we rolled out of bed in the morning it was finished.

The round steak actually worked quite well.  It was thin (about an inch) so the finished jerky ended up being more like beef sticks than the bigger pieces I'm used to, but it tasted wonderful.  The red pepper gave it a spicy kick. Since the meat was so lean to start with, it didn't shrink as much in the drying process as I expected.  The jerky fit nicely in a pint sized plastic container, but I suspect that container will be empty soon!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Vernal and Verdant

Is anything more lovely than a spring day?

After being stuck at home for two days with the stomach flu, I was well enough to rejoin the world today.  When I got home from work this afternoon I walked around the "estate" checking out all the things that are blooming: 

These tulips next to the tree in the tree yard are the first thing I see when I turn the corner onto my street.

The red bud tree in the back yard is just about done blooming for the year. I like the juxtaposition of the small leaves that are replacing the flowers at the tip of the branches.

This forsythia bush is actually in the neighbor's yard, but since the beautiful yellow petals have been floating into our back yard the past few days, I think I have a partial claim to it!

The flowers on this holly bush aren't very conspicuous, but the bees sure like them; it was hard to get close enough to take the picture.  It reminds me that things don't always need to be showy to be beautiful.

Aren't these violets a lovely purple?  I know they're considered weeds, but I just couldn't bring myself to dig them up. (A decision I may regret later in the year..)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Useful Conversion Units

While I'm zoned out on the couch today recovering from a nasty intestinal virus, here's some conversion units you may find helpful:
  • 2000 mockingbirds = two kilomockingbirds
  • Ratio of an igloo's circumference to its diameter = Eskimo Pi
  • 2000 pounds of Chinese soup = Won ton
  • 1 millionth mouthwash = 1 microscope
  • 2.4 statute miles of intravenous surgical tubing at Yale University Hospital = 1 I.V. League
  • Speed of a tortoise breaking the sound barrier = Mach Turtle
  • Time it takes to sail 220 yards at 1 nautical mile per hour = Knot-furlong
  • 16.5 feet in the Twilight Zone = 1 Rod Sterling
  • 1000 aches = 1 megahurts
  • Basic unit of laryngitis = 1 hoarsepower
  • Shortest distance between two jokes = A straight line
  • Time between slipping on a peel and smacking the pavement = bananosecond
  • Time it takes to sail 220 yards at 1 nautical mile per hour = Knot-furlong
  • Given the old adage "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step," the first step of a one-mile journey = 1 Milwaukee
  • 1 million microphones = 1 phone
  • 1 trillion microphones = 1 megaphone
  • 1 million bicycles = 2 megacycles
  • 365.25 days = 1 unicycle
  • the weight of 1 TV evangelist = 1 billigram
  • 10 cards = 1 decacards
  • 2 snake eyes = 1 paradise
  • 453.6 graham crackers = 1 pound cake
  • Half of a large intestine = 1 semicolon
  • 1 kilogram of falling figs = 1 Fig Newton
  • 1000 grams of wet socks = 1 literhosen
  • 1 millionth of a fish = 1 microfiche
  • 1 trillion pins = 1 terrapin
  • 100 tics = 1 hectic
  • 500 millinaries = 1 seminary
  • 1000 female sheep = 1 milieu
  • 10 rations = 1 decoration
  • 100 rations = 1 C-ration
  • 10 millipedes = 1 centipede
  • 3 1/3 tridents = 1 decadent
  • 10 monologs = 5 dialogs
  • 5 dialogs = 1 decalog
  • 2 monograms = 1 diagram
  • 8 nickels = 2 paradigms
  • 2 doctors = 1 paradox
  • 2 wharves = 1 paradox
  • 4 lawyers = 2 paralegals
  • 2 untruths = 1 paralyze
  • 33.8 oz of a case of soft drinks = 1 liter of the pack

Sunday, April 4, 2010

It's (Another) Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Happy Easter!

For the first time ever, Tony and I didn't have anything planned for the day. Two of the boys are out of town, and Son Donald told us when he came to dinner last week he had other things he needed to do today. After Mass in the morning, another beautiful sunny day awaited. We packed a cooler with the sandwich we'd bought yesterday, side dishes, drinks, and the Black Bean Brownies. Our destination was Forest Park and the St. Louis Zoo.

Since we've always hosted or attended a dinner with the extended family on Easter, I didn't know how much traffic there'd be in the park today. Turns out there was a lot. After navigating a short traffic jam, we ended up parking by the Art Museum (about a ten minute walk). We were hungry, so we sat on a bench at the top of Art Hill and ate lunch. The sandwich was great, but the brownies were disappointing; they almost tasted too healthy. After we put the cooler back in the car we walked to the Zoo.

Today, in addition to all the other regularly-scheduled activities, the Zoo was hosting an "Eggtravaganza!". Twice each hour the zookeepers provided enrichment "egg hunt" activities for a different animal and were on hand to answer questions. We only saw one of them, for the Komodo Dragon, but it was fun to watch. The keeper walked into the cage, deposited three paper-mâché egg-shaped piñatas with large holes cut in the top, and left. The eggs were filled with Komodo Dragon treats. We watched as the Dragon stick its head into an egg, pulled out a fish, and swallowed it whole.

Tony and I saw a lot of the exhibits, but after a couple of hours in the sun it got a bit warm for the jeans and long-sleeved shirt I'd chosen to wear. I knew it was definitely time to go home when we started making wrong turns on the winding pathways and kept winding up back where we started. We left the Zoo and walked back to the car. I'd thought there were a lot of vehicles in the park when we got there, but there were substantially more parked along the sides of the roads as we drove out of the park.

I guess we weren't the only ones with a good idea today.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Saturday In Style

Earlier in the week the forecast said it would be rainy today. Thankfully that was wrong; the rain moved through overnight and by mid-morning it was sunny and beautiful. Tony and I decided it was was time for an adventure.

Our first stop was the Compton Hill Water Tower, which is located in Compton Hill Reservoir Park on Grand Boulevard close to Interstate 44. Most of the year the tower is open to the public the first Saturday of the month; today was the first time for 2010.

One of only seven standpipe water towers left in the country (three are in St. Louis), the 179-foot tall tower is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. The tower was built in 1899, when the city's water system was inadequate for the growing population. The pumps that sent water through the City created surges in water pressure. In an effort to equalize the pressure, a 5 feet wide, 100 feet tall standpipe was built to alleviate the surges. Effective, but not pretty.

The tower was constructed around the standpipe to camouflage it. It was built in the French Romanesque style of rusticated limestone, buff brick and terra cotta. Inside, 198 iron steps spiral around the standpipe, and end in an observation deck that provides a 360-degree view of the city.

The climb to the top was relatively easy, because there are a number of landings where you can rest and look at photos of the tower construction. When we arrived at the observation deck, there was a sign that indicated we were at 700 feet above sea level. A volunteer was there to answer our questions and point out the landmarks. Because the day was clear, we could see for miles in every direction.... downtown and the Arch to the east, the Jefferson Barracks Bridge over the Mississippi River to the south, the Planetarium and Clayton to the west, and the two other water towers on Bissel Street and East Grand Avenue to the north.

After we finished in the tower and descended back down the steps, we spent a bit of time exploring the rest of the park, then got back in the car and drove east to Kakao Chocolate, a little bit of heaven on Jefferson Avenue.

Kakao makes small-batch artisan chocolates--no artificial flavors or colors. I had chosen to not eat chocolate during Lent, and wanted to break my abstinence in style. Although everything looked appealing, we ultimately decided on two types of Dark Chocolate Bark and a package of fruit marshmallows. The Fair Trade Organic Coffee Bark was dark chocolate, topped with coffee grounds, and the Pecan Bark had large pieces of toasted pecans sprinkled into the dark chocolate blend. Both were awesome. The cube-shaped marshmallows were unlike anything I've tasted before-they're made with real fruit puree.

As we made our way out of the city and toward home, we decided to stop at Amighetti's on the Hill (the Italian section of town) for a "Special" sandwich-ham, roast beef, salami, cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion, and pepperoncini on great crusty bread. We got the dressing on the side so the sandwich would stay fresh for tomorrow's adventure...

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Secret Ingredient Is....

A few months ago, there were some recipes in the food section of the newspaper that used "secret" ingredients. I filed the article away for future reference; I found it the other day and decided to try one of them, Black Bean Brownies, for Easter.
Black Bean Brownies
1/2 can black beans, rinsed and drained (The recipe called for a 16-oz can, but when I went to the store it appears that size deflation had taken place. All the cans were 15 oz. I drained the beans, measured them and used a bit more than half to account for the change.)
3 eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup unbleached/unrefined sugar (I used the plain white stuff)
4 tablespoons of unbleached flour (Mine was generic bleached)
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8x8 square baking dish.

2. Combine the black beans, eggs, oil, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla extract, sugar and flour in a blender; blend until smooth. Mix in nuts; pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.

3. Bake until the top is dry and the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 30 minutes. These do not come out fluffy, but will be quite dense.
I would never have thought of making brownies with black beans! It was a little difficult to mix everything in my blender, which is older and doesn't have a lot of power. I suspect that unrefined sugar and unbleached flour are healthier than what I used, but I didn't have any in the house and didn't want to make a special trip to the store.

The brownies smelled great coming out of the oven, but they seemed a little dry when I cut them; there weren't any of those messy crumbles that are so annoying (but SO good to snack on as you clean up!) . The recipe indicated there were 16 servings, although that yielded very small pieces.

My plan is to put them out on Sunday without saying anything and see what reactions I get. If they're inedible, I can always throw them in the compost pile!