About 5 million years ago, when I was in high school, as I expect most people do, I had a best friend. Eileen and I were part of a bigger group of friends, who spent the last couple years of school hanging out, partying, and plotting our escape from our little town. We hung out [literally] on street corners, whiled away many hours sipping coffee in the diner and riding around in whatever car she had at the time, from a yellow Volkswagen beetle to a late 60s Mustang, smoking cigarettes and other combustible substances, listening to really loud music and laughing together. Not all of our activities were sanctioned by the local constabulary, and a great many were not sanctioned by our parents either, but we never got into much genuine trouble.
After graduation, we went away to different schools, though we kept in close touch. We both ended up back in town for a time, but our lives gradually drew us further and further apart. Until a couple years ago, we had seen each other only once in probably 25 years, which was most likely more my fault than hers. I got married, and soon had two little daughters to care for, and in the way that small children do, they tended to keep my focus a lot closer to home. We would say that we would keep in better touch, but I don’t think I kept up my end of things very well.
A few years ago, she was back for a visit. Her youngest brother had been diagnosed with cancer, so she came to be with her family, and we squeezed out a few visits in between everything else she was coping with. I would be stretching the truth to say that it was like she never left – our lives have taken paths too radically different for that to be the case. It was wonderful to see each other though, and we really enjoyed the little time we had. And when she went back home, we did stick to our intentions a bit more than we had before, with more frequent phone calls and quite a few more emails.Eileen was back in NY earlier this month. Sadly, her brother had passed away, and so she was here to be with her family. She came out to spend the day, and this time it did seem like the years fell away more easily. We talked a lot about back when we spent a lot of time together, the years between and our lives now. It’s gratifying to see that our connection endures after all these years, and whatever drew us together a long time ago, is still there and still makes perfect sense.
In the course of the afternoon, I decided there was time to throw together a little something for dessert, and I had been kicking the idea of these Blondies around for a week or so. They are every bit as good as I expected they would be. I made them again just to be sure, and didn’t change a single thing – they are perfect. Dense, chewy and intensely peanut-y.The pointy end of the stick in all of this, what makes it all have such sharp edges, is that not only was Eileen here because her brother had passed away, but she herself has battled cancer over the last year. While I wish like anything that she hadn’t come East for the reason that she did, I’m grateful for the day we got to spend together. Have you noticed that the older we get, the more mixed our blessings seem to have become? It sucks, frankly, but I will still take whatever blessings that come my way. And whatever the cookies too.
- ¼ cup soft butter
- ¼ cup natural peanut butter
- 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup peanut butter chips
- ½ cup roasted, salted peanuts, roughly chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350º, and butter a 10 x 7 inch [or 8 x 8 inch] pan well.
- Beat the butter and peanut butter with the brown sugar until well blended and fluffy.
- Beat in the egg and vanilla.
- Add the flour, baking powder and salt and beat until almost combined.
- Add the peanut butter chips and peanuts, and beat until the mixture is well combined.
- Spread evenly in prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
- Cool on a rack, and cut into squares.
- Store in a sealed container – will keep for up to a week at room temperature.
Eileen is safely back home, and working on picking back up those threads of life that have gotten scattered for her over the last two years, while she concentrated on winning her battle and worried about her brother, who she knew was not likely to be winning his. I don’t like thinking about how long it might be until we see one another again, so in the meantime, I’ll call a bit more often and be praying for her to completely regain her health.
And, go make these Blondies – they are almost as sweet as old friends…