Dear Alice, and a recipe for Orange Candied Walnuts
A little bit over four weeks ago we were making plans. Looking through all of your cookbooks and mapping out our treats for Perry Christmas. The bread pudding with almond paste and raspberry sauce has been one we have talked about for years, and true to form – we talked all about it again.
“I will have to gather the ingredients and make that for you this year!” I said with good intentions ((again)). “Oh, it is so good, Ken really liked it – but it makes so much and it is just so rich. But it is really good — but a lot of trouble.” You were conflicted, not wanting me to work too hard. But knowing my friend like I do, you would have been delighted to have another taste of that almond raspberry bread pudding.
We tucked that recipe away again, and in my mind — I whispered to myself, this will be the year I make it for you.
I flipped through another cookbook. We laughed as I asked you if you really had made Scalloped Celery. “It sounds gross Alice” I teased. You giggled and said “As I remember, it really was quite good.”
“Well, it has a check mark by it — you must have liked it.” I said and we laughed again.
As I continued to flip through vintage recipes, the cookbook opened to a page marked with a pink post-it.
“What recipe did you have marked on this page?” I asked “It must have been something really good – it is the only page in the whole book tabbed with a post-it.”
“Well, let me see.” I was sitting close to you, close enough that with a sight twist of my wrists, you were glancing at the recipes on those pages.
“Oh, well, it was the Orange Walnuts.” you said happily. “Those are absolutely delicious. I used to make those all of the time. It is a really good recipe for either walnuts or pecans.”
“Oh, Alice!” I exclaimed. “They sound tasty, I will make those for Perry Christmas.” And we chirped with delight as we began to plan out the treats we would serve in just a few weeks.
I brought the cookbook home with me this past Friday night. Four weeks to the minute of our late night recipe reading and ice cream sleepover. I brought the book home after your memorial service. That didn’t work out like we had planned.
Isn’t it weird how the very thing that will hurt the most, we gravitate towards?? I have been re-reading the recipes in your cookbook and have been most delighted by your check marks and notes. I often come across recipes marked with a check, as if to say “I tried this recipe and they ate it.”
Other recipes simply have the word “try” jotted by the title.
Some recipes have a few extra instructions or adjustments written in the nearby margin. “Now it is perfect” you seem to be saying, as if you have mapped out the way to avoid future recipe pitfalls.
Several recipes have the marking #Very Good. I plan on trying every one of those, my friend.
But even through my heartache, you made me laugh. One recipe ((for Graham Chocolate Cookies)) has the word “try” written next to the title. And underneath the word “try” you have added three more words that show just how very kind you are. You wrote: “not so good”.
You didn’t insult the recipe or draw an X through it, as I may have done. You simply wrote “not so good”. In true form, you said only one small gentle critique and the remainder of your cookbook is filled with positive adjustments and checkmarks of affirmation.
I am not quite finished visiting with you, there are a few more things I would like to say – but it is almost time to pick the kids up from school. We will talk more soon.
I love you,
PS Oh! I almost forgot! I made the Orange Walnuts. You were right Alice! They are so good. I did make a few adjustments, you know me ((haha!)). I added a pinch of salt — don’t you think this recipe needed salt? Oh, and a pat of butter and a splash of vanilla. They are so good. Thank you for telling me about them.
In a warm, fresh and loving memory of my dear, sweet friend and grandmother-in-law Alice Allen Schuermann 9.06.25 to 11.02.14.
- 1 1/2 c sugar
- 1/2 c fresh orange juice
- 3 c walnuts or pecans
- 1 T orange zest
- 1/4 t salt
- 1-2 T butter
- 1 t vanilla
- In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and orange juice. Using a candy thermometer, bring the candy up to the soft ball stage ((238°)) stirring until a rolling boil is reached.
- While the candy is boiling, lay a piece of parchment paper out on a baking sheet.
- Once the soft ball temperature is reached, remove candy from the heat and add remaining ingredients. Stir until candy has thickened and turned opaque. Turn candy out onto the parchment paper, spreading into a single layer & allow to cool.
- Break candy into bite size pieces and store in an airtight container for 10 days to 2 weeks.
- This candy can be made ahead and frozen.
- Makes about 3/4 pound.