My nickname is Charlie. My maiden name is Brown. Charlie + Brown = well, you do the math.
Family members and old friends still call me Charlie. I remember in Grammar school, some of the kids in my class used to sing, “Charlie Brown, you’re a clown…”
And the gifts. Charlie Brown and Peanuts related gifts were unending. And “Charlie” perfume. I’m pretty sure I still have a bottle left of the 400 I received for Christmas and birthdays between the years 1979-1995.
The perfume didn’t hold my interest, but the Peanuts sure did.
Twenty years ago, I entered an annual pumpkin decorating contest held at a New England Fall Festival at the famous Publick House Historic Inn of Sturbridge, Massachusetts. I painted Charlie Brown, Linus and Sally standing in a pumpkin patch waiting for the Great Pumpkin, and won the first place ribbon for my work. It was the first time I realized I could draw. Something happened that day.
Looking back, I’ve painted Charlie Brown and the entire gang so many times I can’t even count. I’ve painted these characters on pumpkins, canvas, paper, walls and even plywood.
You will surely see life-sized Peanuts characters that I’ve created on display in my front yard every year on Halloween. The best part of this is watching the reactions of people as they walk by. Something visibly changes in them. You can clearly see it in their expressions and gestures as they try to get close enough to photograph themselves with the gang.
My husband always asks me why I love these characters so much. I think people often enjoy things without even knowing why. If you really think about it, no one can really explain why they think some things are beautiful.
But if I was forced to give an answer, I’d say it was the simplicity and the colors. They are fun and pleasant to look at. They are very sweet without being stupid. They make me feel happy. They make me experience nostalgia, but not for childhood. It’s nostalgia for a simpler time and place that doesn’t really exist. A sentimental yearning for the happiness felt in an illusory life that isn’t as busy, with no real worries, and has less complicated relationships with other people.
I can’t bring you this dreamy faux world, but I can give you this recipe to help make you happier today.
RECIPE: GOOD OL’ CHARLIE BROWNIES
- 1-1/4 cups mini marshmallows
- 1 cup Chocolate Chips
- 1/2 cup Peanuts
- 1 stick butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Heat oven to 350°F.
- Grease 9-inch square baking pan.
- In a small bowl, mix chocolate chips, mini marshmallows and peanuts. Set aside.
- Melt butter in microwave
- Add sugar, eggs and vanilla and mix well
- Add flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; stir until well blended
- Spread batter in prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chip mixture over top
- Continue baking 5 minutes additional minutes
- Cool completely and cut into squares
Makes 16 brownies.
Tip from the New England Innkeeper:
Resist the urge to cut the brownies immediately. Put them in the fridge for at least a couple of hours, and the result will be nice, tidy, professional-looking squares. They won’t shed as many crumbs when cutting and are less likely to fall apart.
Brownies are considered a “comfort food” where, when eaten, traditionally provides a nostalgic or sometimes sentimental feeling to the person eating it.