WE GOT LOCKED OUT. It’s happened before. Back when I was pregnant with Phoebe, my mom came to visit from Washington state. Something about the key in that door just wouldn’t work. It didn’t turn no matter who tried. I tried. My mom tried. Then we called Paul at work. He came home and tried. Next we called our landlords who made a call of their own, to their handyman. He was willing to come on a Saturday, a small miracle in itself, but he had to eat lunch first. So my mom and I went to lunch ourselves.
About an hour later, the smallest, oldest Italian man I’d ever seen drove his scooter right up onto our sidewalk. He unpacked his wooden toolbox and hoisted the whole thing into our elevator heading upstairs to our fifth floor apartment. He tried the key. Nothing. I wondered what tricks he had up his sleeve, maybe a professional locksmithing secret involving coat hangers or special tools. Here’s what he did: sprayed the lock with WD-40 and it opened. We paid him 50 Euros and bid him ciao.
So when my key wouldn’t work on a recent Saturday, I knew what we were in for. Again, it was lunchtime but instead of calling the landlords, we called our babysitter. Paul hadn’t brought his keys and since mine weren’t working, we needed Shiyama’s extra set. She was babysitting somewhere else that afternoon so again, we went to lunch to wait. Eventually Paul was able to cross town to pick up our set of keys. By this time the handyman of a nearby store had come up to give it a try too. We also borrowed his WD-40. Nothing.
With lunch long behind us and two babies unable to get back to the house I put them both into the double stroller and walked around Rome, slipping into department stores to escape the summer heat. Finally Paul texted that he’d made it back inside. But the problem had nothing to do with the lock this time.
Paul couldn’t get Shiyama’s keys to work either. Instead he’d actually gone to the neighbor’s house and woken him up from his daily siesta, walked out to his terrace, climbed over the railing onto our terrace, broken into our shutters…and opened the door. If your reading comprehension skills are better than mine, you’ll remember that we’re on the fifth floor. Scary. But it was after his acrobatics that he discovered the problem: Phoebe had put his set of keys in the door from the inside. Our kid has locked us out, which must mean we’re officially parents now.
Since it took a village to get us back in, we made thank you treats for all those involved. This included our babysitter, the shopkeeper and handyman downstairs and our neighbor. Phoebe and I baked, decorated and sprinkled our way back into their good graces. I think.
SPINACH BERRY BROWNIE CUPS
Since we made these as a special gift, I put the batter into my mini-muffin pan lined with paper inserts. Mini cupcakes are more festive and easier to divide among several recipients. The frosting is full sugar, full fat but full of fun. Same for the sprinkles. For a healthier version, simply omit both.
Frosting in this soft-serve style is easy: just spoon about half a container of frosting into a sandwich bag and cut one corner. Work the frosting down into the corner. Squeeze, push down, pull up, push down and pull up to finish. If you don’t like the way it looks, just scoop up the frosting put it back in the baggie and try again.
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup mashed raspberries (fresh or frozen) including juice
- 1/4 cup pureed spinach plus 2 tablespoons water
- 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup regular white flour
- 2 tablespoons wheat germ
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line mini muffin pan with paper inserts.
Melt butter and chocolate chips together in a double boiler or bowl over simmering water. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool a bit. Meanwhile, in another bowl, stir together the eggs, vanilla, sugar, berries, spinach and water. Combine berry mixture with the cooled chocolate mixture.
In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, wheat germ, cocoa powder, and salt. Add this to the chocolate mixture and blend thoroughly. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full.
Bake for 10 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
Store for up to one week in the refrigerator, in an airtight container.