Food: The unexpected gifts of life
I have learned throughout my life that gifts come in many forms, but I never thought the stalk growing outside my picture window would produce one.
A few years back I received a big bulb from a friend who told me she thought it was a lily, but had no idea what kind, color or species. Nonetheless, I brought it home, scratched out a hole in a suitable spot and waited.
The first year the bulb sprouted but at about six inches high, it was chewed off by a rabbit. The next spring the plant once again sprung up, but this time was consumed by deer and the year after that a hail storm took it down. So you can imagine how low my expectations were this spring when once again it poked through the earth and started to grow.
I have been observing its progress with delight throughout this summer, but admittedly with a continuous sense of doom. Every day I have peered at it with trepidation, waiting for the inevitable demise of the plant. But as it went from a tiny shoot, to a thick-stemmed sprig and then on to growing flower pods, my curiosity and wonderment grew. “What color would these blooms be? How big would they grow? Would I be able to figure out what type it really was?” were all questions that have popped into my head.
And then one day last week, I was walking the dogs near the plant and caught a whiff of the most intoxicating fragrance. It was soft and wafting, tropical and tantalizing with a lasting aroma that had me following my nose throughout the yard. And that’s when I spotted the first flower. It took my breath away with its perfection.
These blooms grow on a stalk and when the next one opened I cut it and placed it in a small bowl of water in my house. I have been enchanted with this flower ever since. Its furry brown anthers are a soft contrast to the creamy ecru of the flower itself. The petals fold back delicately and its fragrance is a true testament to aromatherapy. Let me just say this works, because the sweet smell of this blossom instantly puts me in a good mood.
And that’s always the way I felt when Mom made her Banana Split Dessert when I was a kid. This was a confection that she only made for special occasions and I can remember eating it at baby and wedding showers, anniversary celebrations and birthday parties throughout my childhood. When Mom decided to make this, fun was in store, and though this dessert is no-bake, the soft fragrance of all the fruit in it, made my mouth water. This was a creation Mom made with love and care and those two ingredients alone make any recipe taste better.
For some reason, a few days ago when I was gazing at my lily, I got a hankering for that dessert. Maybe it was the tropical aroma of that flower that put me in the mood for it. In truth, I haven’t had it since Mom died 10 years ago but it is now on my agenda to make real soon.
I guess I should have realized back then, just what a gift this delicious dessert really was whenever I watched my mother make it. Like my lily, unexpected yet so unforgettable.
Banana Split Dessert
For the crust
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
For the cream cheese layer
12 ozs. cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
8 ozs. Cool Whip
3 to 4 bananas, sliced
1 20 oz. can of crushed pineapple, drained
16 ozs. strawberries, hulled and sliced
8 ozs. Cool Whip
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish. Combine the graham cracker crumbs and the butter. Mix thoroughly then press into the baking dish firmly. Refrigerate. Then mix together the cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. Fold in the Cool Whip. Spread this on the graham cracker crust. Arrange the banana slices over this layer. Spread the pineapple over the bananas and then the strawberries. Cover with Cool Whip making a smooth top. Sprinkle on the nuts and dot with cherries. Refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving.