It had been on the calendar for over a week but in an instant this date night felt particularly important.
Last Sunday a dear blog friend lost her husband. One moment he was a husband and father to two sweet, young girls and then suddenly he was gone.
Hearing this news took my breath away. The pain I felt for Jennie and her family was deep and lacking in the words I wanted so badly to comfort her with.
There are no words. I continue to seek them but nothing can illustrate the sorrow, the pain, and the sympathy.
I quickly was struck with the reality of how much I take for granted and that this life hangs by a mere thread, a moment. In an instant your everything that has become such a part of your daily existence could be gone. What I anticipate and rely on to be with me on this day, this year, and this lifetime could just as easily vanish like a passing wind. It’s not the thought of my own mortality that scares me but the thought of being left on this earth without someone I love so deeply. That thought is too much to bare.
And that is Jennie’s reality. There have been many moments throughout the week where I have sat staring at my computer screen trying so desperately to think of something, anything, I could do.
Then she posted this. Peanut Butter Pie. It was his favorite.
It was something I could do. A way to honor this man, Jennie’s husband.
With each stir of the spoon and fold of the spatula I thought about Jennie and the man she lost. As I crumbled the cookies and stirred in melted butter I prayed for his girls. As the chocolate shavings rained down over the top of the pie I thought of my own husband and thanked God for this moment I have with him. I am not guaranteed another one but for now he’s here and we have this night and this pie.
Preparing each course of the meal felt poignant. I took my time as I carefully layered each potato into our potato cake. I felt the warmth of the sun on my back as I gathered the tarragon, thyme, mint, and coriander seeds from the garden. Setting the table with multiple layers of dishes, cloth napkins, and candles informed us that this time was to be taken slowly, enjoyed, and savored.
The meal was simple but the purpose was powerful.
We talked, laughed and enjoyed one another’s company. Then we ate pie. Two forks, one pie. We both felt the weight of the significance of the pie. There were moments of no words as we let the sweet, cool bite swallow any words we tried to muster. Breaking the silence we laughed about Gabe’s precise eating style as he carefully tried to make the pie appear as if it wasn’t being devoured by two forks rather than being cut into appropriate pieces. I, on the other hand, simply ravaged the pie, letting the mess be what it is as I enjoyed that moment.
I hope for more dates with my husband. If it were up to me there will be dozens of more pies eaten together, straight from the pan. But it’s not up to me and I’m okay with that because I trust the one who is in charge. I do know that I have now and I pray that the impact of this moment will be carried with me for a very long time and I will try so very hard to not take the things and people that exist in my everyday for granted.
Particularly my husband. I vow to give more loving glances, more heartfelt “I love you’s”, more gentle kisses, and more peanut butter pie.
adapted, slightly, from Jennifer Perillo
Serves 10 to 12
8 ounces chocolate cookies (I used a recipe for Brave Tarts Fauxreo’s)
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
5 oz mascarpone
3 oz sour cream
1 cup creamy-style peanut butter
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 – 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
Pre-heat the oven to 350*
Add the cookies to the bowl of a food processor and pulse into fine crumbs. Combine melted butter and cookie crumbs in a small bowl, and stir with a fork to mix well. Press mixture into the bottom and pie pan. Bake the crust for about 15 minutes, until set and crisp. Add the chocolate to the warm crust and let the residual heat melt the chocolate. Spread the chocolate with a spatula and sprinkle the peanuts on top.
Place pan in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and beat using a stand mixer or hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a small bowl and store in refrigerator until ready to use. Place the mascarpone, sour cream and peanut butter in a deep bowl. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioner’s sugar. Add the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and salt. Increase speed to medium and beat until all the ingredients are combined and filling is smooth.
Stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the filling mixture (helps lighten the batter, making it easier to fold in the remaining whipped cream). Fold in another ⅓ of the whipped cream. Reserve the remaining whipped cream to top the pie. Pour the filling into the prepared pie pan. Using a microplane, grate chocolate on top of the pie, if desired, and refrigerate for three hours or overnight before serving. Serve with remaining whipped cream.
Green Coriander Dressing
This is for true cilantro lovers as the green coriander packs a floral punch.
1 tsp green coriander seeds
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon fine mustard (such as Maille)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon mascarpone or heavy cream
1 tablespoon minced shallot
salt and pepper
In a morter and pestle crush the green coriander. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
adapted from Nigel Slater
5 (or so) potatoes (I used new potatoes)
1 red pepper
1 small onion
1 stick butter, melted
5 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed
salt and pepper
Pre-heat your oven to 400*
Slice all the vegetables very thin. A mandoline will make this job a breeze.
Butter a loaf pan and line with parchment so that the parchment hangs over the edge.
Start with a few layers of potatoes adding butter, a few thyme leaves, and a pinch of salt and pepper over each layer. When you deem necessary add a layer of red pepper, then onion.
Continue layering the vegetables, butter, thyme and salt and pepper.
Bake for about an hour or until the top is golden and the potatoes are tender when a knife is inserted through the middle.
Remove from the oven and let cool about 10 minutes before trying to transfer the cake to a plate.
Serve warm or at room temperature.