Saturday, May 31, 2008

Leapin' Lizards

I have been vindicated.

Iguanas swim. Someone other than myself saw it happen today.

For some time now, I have been trying to convince my husband that iguanas swim. Like, in our backyard pool.

South Florida is overrun with wild iguanas. With no natural predators in this region (other than a speeding Jetta), iguanas have adapted to South Florida's environment as easily as the rest of us.

They are not indigenous creatures. Iguanas were introduced to the great outdoors of Florida by pet-owners who could not be bothered to care for them or for the delicate ecosystem in our region. Burmese pythons arrived here in the same manner, and they are eating everything in the Everglades. Including alligators, it seems. I cannot in good conscience post a link to the photo of the python that actually exploded last year trying to down a six-foot gator, but you can google it, if that's what you're into.

Let's come back to the iguanas.

Please understand, I have no antipathy toward iguanas. To the contrary, I think that they are hilarious. They are naturally confident, if not charismatic. When they run, their legs windmill cartoonishly and they travel with surprising speed. If you approach one slowly, he will appraise you with a cold reptilian eye (captured above), then scramble away, tail flipping wildly. They like hot surfaces, so we see them in the street, in our driveway, and on our brick patio.

But in the pool, swimming? I know what I saw last summer: an iguana laying belly-to-bricks at the edge of our pool wanted a dip. He deliberately slid into the pool and wriggled gracefully underwater like an otter, coming to the surface for a moment to breath, then dipping below once again. A few moments later, he swiveled to another edge of the pool, climbed out, and coolly meandered up the trunk of our Schefflera tree.

Unfortunately, no one else saw this. Steve seemed skeptical of my story. "He must have fallen in," he said. I know what I saw, though.

This morning, the rain began pelting down with enough force to dislodge leaves from the Schefflera. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a green creature torpedo from our patio into the pool. Steve and I ran to the window, trying to spot the little guy under the choppy surface of the water.

The iguana surfaced at the far edge of our pool, plainly irritable. He didn't seem to like the rain at all, and kept most of his body underwater for several minutes, until the rain subsided. I suppose that he felt more comfortable half underwater than out in the open downpour. (Lest you feel concerned, my husband has rescued many an animal from our pool. No way would he have stood by if the iguana appeared to be in distress. I love this man).

Once he felt that the rain was slowing, the iguana reached a webby leg over the side of the pool and pulled himself up effortlessly (captured below). He stalked to the Schefflera and scurried up its trunk into the dense leaves. "Huh," said Steve, "they swim."

Since this is a food blog, you probably feel uneasy about how this story is going to tie in with what I've been cooking today. I assure you, I am not about to offer a recipe for jerk iguana.

Instead, I have a a recipe for brownies that I have adapted from the recipe of a fellow Fort Lauderdale blogger, Julie of A Mingling of Tastes. Julie uses Guinness in her brownies, so she calls them Guinness Brownies. Because I used Rogue's Mocha Stout instead of Guinness, I'm calling this version "Stout Brownies."

They're so good, they'll make you feel like you've been vindicated in some good way.

Stout Brownies
Adapted from A Mingling of Tastes

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
8 ounces dark bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 ounces high quality white chocolate, chopped
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cup stout beer, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spritz a 9 x 13 baking pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa and salt, then set aside.

Melt the butter, 8 ounces of dark chocolate, and 4 ounces of white chocolate in a double-boiler, stir frequently to prevent scorching. Alternatively, you can use the microwave: Microwave on medium power for 45 seconds and stir. Continue microwaving and stirring at 30 second intervals, reducing to 15 second intervals as the chocolate is nearly melted.

Stop just when the chocolate is smooth. Set aside.

Combine the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and mix on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the melted chocolate gradually, beating on medium speed until combined. Next, add the flour mixture in 1/2-cup amounts, beating on medium speed until combined. Finally, add the stout in thirds and whisk until combined, just ten seconds or so. The batter should have some frothiness.

Pour the batter into your prepared pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the brownies completely in pan, then cut into 24 squares and serve.

These brownies are divine with a glass of milk. Julie says that they also freeze very well.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sarah - I love, love this entry! Please keep it up, and maybe one day I will get the courage to try one of your recipies. I admit I might try the blueberry cobbler!!!