The perfect item to bring to my friendship circle of women is something I have no name for. I gather the ingredients first so they will be handy to me.
NO NAME RECIPE arlene s bice
peanut butter walnut halves dried dates sugar touched by cinnamon, in a shallow bowl
I place the items to the side of the old wooden table-top, cleared now of the crossword puzzle from last Sunday’s newspaper and the antique brass candle-holder containing a taper. I’m lucky enough to have stocked up on tapers when I could still buy them at wholesale prices. The holder was a gift from Mona, who in the winter invites me for dinner served in her simple colonial dining room, lit only by candlelight, as authentically colonial as the dinner served.
I’ve also moved the wooden bowl hollowed out and hand-painted on the outside, by the loving hands of a true craftsman. This too, was a gift, but from Norma who began as a customer in my shop and became a very generous friend.
These items are removed and the table scrubbed clean of cat fur wisps from my two girls, Mz Lizzie and Lady Jane. They give me the same great joy as the Bennet sisters in Pride and Prejudice for which they were named. They love to watch me cook and bake from the safe distance of a nearby wooden wine rack stand, a gift to my late husband still in use long after he has passed.
I cup a date in my left palm, holding the paring knife in my right. The sharp tip of the knife slits the date open like a pocket sewn closed in error. A small swipe of peanut butter fills the gaping hole easily before I reach for the walnut recently plucked from the ground under my neighbor’s huge, ancient walnut tree. It was necessary to scoot the squirrels away to get the walnuts. They don’t give them up easily even though the tree will give us thousands more this year.
As soon as I brought my little treasures home, I spread them out thinly on a cookie sheet, blackened with age and use, roasting the nuts on low heat for an hour or so.
The date and peanut butter embrace the newly received walnut half, not quite closing around it. Next I roll the piece into the cinnamon tinted sugar
waiting in the shallow bowl with the images of Toulouse Lautrec posters reminding me of another century. My friend Tom encouraged me to buy a whole set of them, knowing I would always treasure them as I do his pieces of artwork that I own.
The finished product is placed next to her sisters on the cut glass tray, a lovely platter salvaged from an unlovely time, an angry divorce, but now garnishing a shelf, patiently waiting for a lifetime of happy use.
P S: Cream cheese may be substituted for the peanut butter but nothing can substitute the friends that will share my creation.