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Sometimes All You Need Is A Good Brownie Recipe

I had a delightful Carolina auntie, out of West Virginia, about whom my reprobate cousin said, “When Auntie Gail dies, God will have to move over.”


She was remarkable in many ways and I have that classic regret about not having asked her more about her life when she was still around.


She never married, worked professionally all her life – and there’s a story there about pride and lost love but that’s for another day – and she devotedly loved her numerous nieces, and nephews.


She lived in a tiny, single story, wooden, clap-boarded house, raised above the ground to keep the snakes out, on a grassy slope of pine backed, red-clay – the type that “don’t wash

Off, “ no matter how far you roam.


Auntie Gail was what Southerners call ‘a real lady,’ and she kept her home neat as a pin. It was full of photographs and needlepoint and the smell of pot pourri and warm sunshine.


Now I’m told that Auntie Gail was no cook, although she clipped and collected recipes avidly. She did, however make the most perfect brownies and whenever we visited South Carolina, she’d have a tin full, ready for our arrival.


My sisters and I loved her brownies and although one of us didn’t like nuts, they were still the best.


This weekend after a lifetime of making brownies without nuts I had a powerful urge to do them like Great Auntie Gail’s, and when my daughter told me her bestie was obsessed with walnuts, in they went.


I don’t know why but it is still surprising to me that a particular taste, or smell, can whisk you back to a place and time long gone, with such speed, such powerful evocation , but there it is.


One bite of that soft and toothsome give, the hit of chocolate, combined with the creamy crunch of toasted walnuts and I was sitting at Auntie Gail’s table, listening to the rising whir of cicadas, the soft hum of her fridge, and her detailed descriptions of sepia photographs spread between us. Happy days.


Love ❤️


P.S. The beautiful reel was made by Fen @myhomestylelife to help me promote All the Places that Were Hurt – brownies feature in the book and why not?


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