peanut butter + banana dairy-free ice cream

Like all our memories, we like to take it out once in a while and lay it flat on the kitchen table, the way my wife does with her sewing patterns, where we line up the shape of our lives against that which we thought it would be by now. ― Claire Vaye Watkins, Battleborn

There was a day when you woke and your heart was a torrent. On the walls of the cold house in which you live, you scrawl: this was not what was intended. Something compels to write it all down. You scatter photographs on the floor and realize that you’ve fashioned a carpet of red-eyed strangers. Faces flush and beaming with drink, the scenes repeat themselves with minor variations. Always a clock in the background, always someone keeping time (miming a heartbeat), reminding you that your velocity isn’t personal. Did you actually think time was something that was yours to keep? You blast the songs you thought you knew and you flub all the lines. You contemplate a game of spades or gin rummy, but can’t find the pack of cards. Can’t remember the rules of the game. Can’t remember the last time your hand got played. And you start to realize that the future is waiting for you to find your way to it, to step into the frame, to play out the scene. Like our bodies and like our desires, the machines we have devised are possessed of a heart which is slowly reduced to embers, offers W.G. Sebald, and I’m starting to see the bigger picture.

Sometimes you think about traveling to certain cities and dialing the same number with the local area code. Sometimes you think about rabbits and multiplication. Mostly, you think about nothing at all.

That’s hardly true. But wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in this fiction? Hide behind the second person? Rebellions are always easier in your head.

A few weeks ago, you meet up with an old friend and trade war stories. Time passes, and you both agree that the second time is never as good as the first. That our lives are now ours to architect and shape, and this first is frightening because once you get a taste, once you feel the shape of something new, there’s no going back. You write lines that go like this: I want to tell him that I wish I’d never met Cassidy, I wish I stayed with the girls under the rafters, safe, because knowing there was a Goa and a beautiful house suffocating from so much loneliness is worse than not having known it at all. I want to begin with Cassidy and end with her, but a story never plays out the way you intend it. I want to tell him that we all bruise, on and below the surface.

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How do you architect a life when everyone’s trying to write your story? When the peanut-crunching lot purport to know the ending. When they email Susan Miller horoscopes, trying to find a word that means something to you when this puts you to thinking that her lines are very much like Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, where everyone is a gleaming photocopy of an opaque original. Look at the millions slouching to our generic fate. Look at us march! Look at us go! {The applause is thunderous. The curtains fall over our black eyes. The needle lifts and the song plays. Again, again.}

Are you fucking kidding me with this charade?

You make your life by living it. Measure for measure, moment by moment. You fix the things in your home that you were once content to leave broken. You scrape the barnacles off your body and pass time with people who invigorate rather than deplete. You open your locked heart, in degrees, and let all the right ones in. You even let in some of the wrong ones, because you need to feel this, too. You sleep during the day and work into the night. You tell CEOs of companies that you’re not walking into a puppy mill. Your mind is a non-negotiable. You actually write down your non-negotiables and say them out loud. You cover up the old words you once scrawled on your walls with new, hopeful ones: This is what I intend… You preach out with your heart, all of it, and hold your loved ones close. And although you are the one who needs helping, you turn the beat around and ask: How can I help you?

And when your voice is hoarse and your legs stiff from walking to one meeting to the next, fall back into the house you’ve made a home and eat spoonfuls of homemade ice cream.

Your velocity is personal. Your life is yours to shape. Here is the scalpel and compass. Go.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe adapted from Roost, with modifications (makes 1 quart)
8 very ripe bananas, sliced
6 tbsp honey
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup roasted, salted, smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup chopped toffee or dark chocolate chunks


Preheat oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss sliced bananas with the honey, syrup and coconut oil. Spread into a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven, lift the parchment on both sides and pour the bananas and caramelizing liquid into a high speed blender. Add the peanut butter and blend until very smooth. Pour into a freezer safe container and freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight.

When ready to serve, allow ice cream to sit on the counter to soften a bit and make sure you use an ice cream scoop dipped in hot water to help with the scooping.

NOTES IN THE MARGINS: I actually made two batches of the ice-cream, as I found the original recipe too savory for my taste, and the peanut butter was too pronounced a flavor at the expense of the roasted bananas. My adaptation dials down the peanut butter (I’m also trying vanilla flavored almond butter tonight, as well) and incorporates some sweet bits that will make this dairy-free treat sing.

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