Last week I took my daughter to the lake for a dinner time picnic.
The sunlight, like melted butter, poured down the mountainside, through the evergreens, and scattered across the water; We tiptoed through icy water, translucent jewel tones concealing fish and lily shoots. We let coarse golden sand trickle through our fingers, the fine dust coating our sticky arms and legs. We marched behind stately ravens, their black eyes clever and watching. Finally we nestled on the picnic blanket to eat and watch.
But what she enjoyed most was picking single stalks of dry grass, thin and brittle, and holding them against the sky as she spun across the meadow. Dizzy and wild, she laughed and fell, then got up to try again. It wasn’t part of the plan, or something it had even occurred to me that she would want to do, but for the better part of the evening the only joy that existed was that of watching a golden cluster of grass seed blur against the sky.
This ability, to focus on and feel only the moment one is in, is lost as we get older. And while there are countless books and articles offering to show us how to get it back, the best way may actually be to pick up a stalk of dried grass and start spinning.
Taking such joy in the simplest part of the day epitomizes childhood. The small things matter greatly, and the great things not at all. Of everything I’ve learned (or been reminded of) through becoming a parent, this is what I hope to never forget. One of the wonders of spending time with children is just how much I remember of my own childhood and of what mattered to me then, and what didn’t.
In the spirit of remembering childhood, I’ve been experimenting with some childhood classics. There is nothing more powerful than smell or taste to pull us back into the swell of our memory.
There may be no food more associated with childhood than peanut butter and jelly, and like many childhood favourites it’s often considered too unsophisticated for adult consumption. I think it’s time to revisit childhood and the combination of rich, smooth nut butter and bright, tangy jelly. Of course I removed most of the sugar, and used whole grain, oats, and flax to give these bars a boost of fibre and nutrition. Hope you enjoy!
1 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 ground flax seed (optional)
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups whole grain (or white) flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup jelly (or jam)
- Preheat oven to 350C and lightly grease a 9×13 inch cake pan
- Beat butter and sugar until smooth, beat in peanut butter
- Mix in flax, oats, flour, baking powder and salt
- Remove 1/3 of mixture from the bowl and set aside
- Beat the egg into remaining 2/3 of mixture
- Press the 2/3 mixture into the greased cake pan until it completely and evenly covers the bottom of the pan
- Spread jelly or jam over batter, them drop remaining 1/3 of mixture over the top
- Bake for 12-15 minutes