Rob asks, "Can I have the last piece?"
Audacious. Rude. Not allowed.
It does not matter if it's the last cookie in the bottom of the container, broken edges, slightly burnt. It does not matter if the slice of cake has been sitting there, crumbling, neglected a for a few days.
If I made it, it's mine.
That's the rule in this house. The same rule that was passed down by Val. There is no deviating. It is hard and fast. The only person who can lift it is the person who baked/made/created/toiled at 10pm while half asleep on a Sunday night before an early Monday morning of a long week filled with school lunches to be packed. The only person who can give the o.k. for another to eat the last morsel is the person who produced the confection in question.
"The last piece is always reserved for the cook."
Back when we were kids, my sister Karyn would try and work around this law of the land. Val would remove the last square brownie from its pan and place it in a small bowl: up in the cabinet where the clean bowls and plates were housed, as if to hide it in plain sight. This only tempted and taunted Karyn. And we all knew where the "hiding" spot was anyway.
Karyn arrived home from school in the early afternoon, teenage stomach growling. Val was likely out grocery shopping for more food to feed three always ravenous children. Home alone and feeling bold, Karyn wielded a sharp paring knife and every so deftly shaved the edges of the brownie revealing a slightly smaller version of the same sweet. The phrase, "She will never notice." floated in a thought bubble above her head as she did her dirty work then devoured the slivered morsels.
And let's just say, "Val may never have noticed." (I truly doubt it. That woman always seemed to know what was going on even when she wasn't physically present.) But Karyn could not stop there. It just wasn't enough. She continued to shave a little more and then a little more until the new brownie was so noticeably smaller than how Val had left the original, that there was going to be no way out of this egregious trespass. I can imagine it now, Val was likely thinking about savoring that brownie for a late lunch with a tall glass of cold milk once she finally got home with her multiple bags of groceries only to find that the hidden last brownie had been reduced to a miniature version so small it would not have satisfied and ant.
(Before we move on, I will need to address the elephant in the room: Yes, my mother often ate sweets in the place of actual meals claiming such illnesses as "low blood sugar" and "headaches". These medical diagnosis were never to be questioned and are still referenced today.)
I probably don't need to reveal the outcome of the clandestine brownie surgery. I mean it was obvious to all involved. And while it did not technically break the house rule, it clearly did infringe upon it. I am not sure what would have been more effective: to actually hide the last remaining sweet in a better place or to inflict a steep punishment for those who break the law. In my house, I just instill the fear of God in my loved ones which I think is appropriate for any potential transgression. You may think this to be a bit harsh. I don't. Nothing is out of bounds when it comes to protecting my chocolate, butter and sugar.
Declan will claim that even though whenever I bake a batch of these brownies, that he as the inventor and winner of a blue ribbon and Best in Show ribbon at the Barnstable County Fair in the summer of 2022, should actually be the recipient of the last piece every damn time. I politely and firmly disagree.
Reese's Dream Brownies
1 package brownie mix
9 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (full size)
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
Preheat oven according to brownie mix package directions.
Mix brownies according to package directions. Pour half of the batter into a greased (8 x8) pan. Place Reese’s Peanut Butter cups evenly over batter. Top with remaining batter and spread out to cover the peanut butter cups.
Heat peanut butter in a microwave for 10 seconds. Stir to achieve an even consistency. Drop in dollops over the brownie batter. Using a knife, swirl by dragging it one way, then the opposite way across the batter. Bake brownies according to package directions. (May need to add a few minutes to baking time.)
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
Cut into 9 even pieces. Keep in an airtight container.