Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Meditations on love

I stumbled upon a tragic story quite by accident this past week: food blogger Jennie lost her husband suddenly and unexpectedly.  In her 30s, she now finds herself a young widow and single mother of two girls.  Jennie recently posted about how she and her husband had made time for a date after he'd finished a busy work project.  She talked about the peanut butter pie - his favorite - she'd been meaning to make for him.  She talked about how important it is to tell our loved ones how special they are to us because you never know when tomorrow won't come.

Several years ago a friend loaned me the book The 5 Love Languages.  In reading it I realized that my love language is "acts of service".  In fact, my favorite act of service is cooking.  Spending the day in my kitchen to concoct a variety of delicious things is both my idea of entertainment and a way to show others that I care enough to do something special just for them.  Besides, cooking is a gift that we can all enjoy.

The challenge comes when people speak different love languages.  If one person values physical touch over acts of service, the time I devote to a locally sourced, homemade, multi-course meal will matter less than the accompanying hugs and kisses.  The opposite is true: an embrace is more enjoyable if preceded by some choreplay.

When I cook for someone, I spend the time thinking about them, reflecting upon what they mean to me and making sure that what I'm making will be a treat that takes into consideration their favorites.  For me, cooking is more than assembling food: it's about translating the love I feel for someone into a tangible, if fleeting, gift.

As I assembled the ingredients for this pie it dawned on me how many of the items in our home came into our possession due to love.  Just on my kitchen countertop you see a small colander of new potatoes from my garden, squash from a friend, the battery charger for the camera I gave Gene when we were dating, my grandmother's cookie jar, an orchid a friend gave me for my birthday, and the food processor my mom gave me.  Each of these items represents a gift of love.

I suspect that many cooks are acts-of-service people. 

Jennie requested that readers make a peanut butter pie to share with their loved ones:
For those asking what they can do to help my healing process, make a peanut butter pie and share it with someone you love. Then hug them like there's no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on.

I used her recipe, changing it slightly to swap lower fat ingredients where possible (reduced fat peanut butter, no peanuts, graham crackers, neufchatel cheese).  You can find the recipe on Jennie's blog linked above, as well as more recipes and tribute blog posts on the Food Network blog.

To the people in my life for whom I cook: every bite is my way of telling you that I love you. 

p.s. When I took the springform sides off the pie it slowly oozed onto the countertop.  What a mess.  I slid the whole thing into a deep dish pie plate and froze it.  This made for a very tasty frozen pie. 

Despite the lower fat ingredients, it's really quite rich.  Don't be gluttonous with your first piece as I was: I couldn't even finish it.  Me... the pregnant chick... couldn't eat a whole piece of pie.  I'm a shame to my kind.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing this! I need a tissue! And I will make the pie.

  2. I love The 5 Love Languages. Mine is Quality Time, dialect- quality conversation. It is very important to know how someone wants to be loved.