But if I go back, way back, I think of weekday mornings, waffles, peanut butter and jelly. Instead of syrup, peanut butter and jelly were my mother's waffle accompaniment of choice. Noelle and I sat at our little wooden table and waited anxiously for Mom to bring over our plates. When we went to visit my grandmother in St. Louis, I adamantly insisted that we take PB & J with our Eggo waffles--we can't stand syrup, I explained to my grandmother, and she begrudgingly pulled out the jars.
To this day, I like to slather my waffles or pancakes with a little bit of nut butter and a hefty dose of jam. I'm thankful to be friends with three lovely ladies who like to can on occasion (Gwynne, Abby and Evan). I'm happy to drown those square indentations with strawberry champagne jam.
When I do, I think of Noelle, I think of the way she snuggled with me as we read Bernstein Bears each night. I think of the way we stayed in our pajamas as long as we could the next morning, asking our mom for not two but three helpings of PB & J waffles.
I think of my mom. The long dark hair she tied in a ponytail so it wouldn't get dirty as she painted and played with her two youngest girls. I think of the way she always wants the best for her daughters. She gave us the best food, the best home, the best love.
When I made these Peanut Butter and Jelly Blondies last weekend, I thought of my mom and her waffles. I smiled as my friends enjoyed them...I smiled because her love and care and creativity continues to stretch out farther than her two arms could ever go.
We all have special people like that in our lives. People that touched us so dramatically that their presence now radiates out of our lives too. I think of my mom, my sisters, my husband.
I don't know if you can ever find the right words to express how much those people mean to you. Maybe the only way by doing the things they taught you--loving people, baking, caring for the sick, taking long walks, painting until the early hours of the morning.
So Mom, please know that part of the reason I do this blog is because of you. You taught me to express myself, to create, to reach out to those around me with words of comfort and truth.
So much love to you and all the people that make us who we are.
*Adapted from Cooks Illustrated
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 TBSP (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup jam, warmed
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line a standard 12-cup muffin pan (I highly suggest using cupcake liners). In a medium bowl, whisk together your flour, baking powder and salt.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together your melted butter and brown sugar. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla until combined. Whisk in peanut butter and stir in the flour mixture until just combined.
3. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pan (around 1/3 cup of batter per cup). Bake the blondies until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 25-30 minutes.
4. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before removing with a knife. Drizzle warmed jam over cooled blondies. Serve soon after.
Anecdotes and Apple Cores
PS. A big congratulations to Carlyn for winning my contest! Baked goodies and greeting cards will be arriving soon.