Friday, December 17, 2010

Grandpa's peanut butter fudge

This is my Grandpa Johnson. Isn't he handsome?

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He was a big man, about six-foot-two or six-foot-three, with broad shoulders and (when I knew him) a head full of thick, silver hair. He liked to swear and drink coffee (though both were against his religion). He cut off two fingers in a shop accident and liked to do irreverent things with the nubs. He had a passion for his country, having served it honorably during World War II.

He loved to travel and had an unusually large collection of bowling balls in the basement. He made jewelery, and always wore turquoise rings on his fingers.

He was gruff and loving, all at once. He was the type that was embarrassed at affection, but would be thoughtful and generous to others. He liked order and discipline. It used to drive him crazy that I never finished a meal.

Oh, if only he could see me now. Grandpa, don't worry - I finish PLENTY of meals.

He had the best garden. I fell in love with crisp, green vegetables sitting around his table, the multi-colored terrycloth linens underneath the pink desert rose plates.

He loved his grandchildren and was tragically taken from them far too soon.

Here is a picture of Grandpa and Grandma at their wedding. Doesn't it look like he just can't get enough of her?

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I love that picture. I think every woman ought to be worshiped and adored by her husband.

This time of year, I think of him fondly when I make his peanut butter fudge. I have no idea of the recipe's true origin, but when I taste it, I am transported back to a warm kitchen in a small, modest home. A bowl of nuts sit on the table next to the large toaster oven. The shiny, textured wallpaper smiles down on my freckled cheeks, pink from climbing a tree in the front yard.

A gruff voice yells as kids run in and out, though he shakes his head in laughter when they can't see. Ice cream is always in the basement freezer, and cookies are always in the bread box.

It's a place that is woven into the fabric of who I am. It's a home where hours of my childhood were spent happily climbing trees, playing the dusty organ in the basement, and hiding in the metal wardrobe. A place where cousins were always laughing and the love and soul of family was so thick you could taste it.

I love you, Grandpa. Miss you terribly, even after all these years. This batch is for you.

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[And this, dear internets, is for you:]
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You're welcome. Think of him when you make it, will you?

17 comments:

Meredith said...

Love this post! Reminds me a bit of my Grandfather who loved to bake sweets and had an amazing rose garden. He was a very gruff but sweet missionary in Brazil. Perfect recipe to try this week before Christmas! Thanks for sharing!

Lauren in GA said...

So beautifully written, Stie. I loved it.

I will think of him (and you) when I make them.

3leftturns said...

Thank you for keeping the sanctity of the secret recipe a secret. Now I don't have to send guido over. I miss that house too.

calibosmom said...

Looks to me like your Grandpa has a fiesty look in his eyes. Looks like he can't wait to ravage Grandma. I love a man that can wear turquoise rings-he sounds really cool. I will be making these for sure!

danandcindy said...

I really enjoyed this post. Very well written, and it had nothing to do with your stupid wardrobe. It makes me miss Ted.

Julianna said...

Going out to get the ingredients now... guess it's cookie night tonight at our house!

And, I agree. Every woman should be adored. -J

Jessica said...

Old family photos + a recipe with a story = blogging perfection.

Elle Belles Bows said...

Truly love that you added the pictures with the story. It is so important to share your past. Great story and recipe too! Kerri

Becca @ Our Crazy Boys said...

That's it? That looks like a recipe that even I could make.

And of course I'll think about your Grandfather :)

Travelin'Oma said...

I think you inherited his culinary skills! Very cute post.

Tristan said...

Although my attempts at making fudge are over ;-) I loved reading this post!

Cindy said...

You've inspired my husband to make fudge. Thank you!

Gabi said...

Great post! Cute photos and a yummy recipe.

Edie Mindell said...

I'll definitely think of him when I get the chance to bake this yummy treat.:-) It looks delicious enough on the picture. Thanks for the recipe.:-)

Lisa@ButteryBooks said...

That looks delicious! I hope your Grandpa doesn't mind, but I might have to try it with a chocolate topping...gotta have chocolate with my peanut butter.

Linsey said...

Sounds like a real man's man. Thanks for the recipe. Can't wait to indulge in this decadence.

Robyn said...

Awwww...so sweet! I feel robbed that Grandpa J died when I was only two years old! But I loved everything you said about the house...the tree, the dusty organ in the basement, the cookies, the wallpaper. I can almost smell it. I'll have to try the recipe!