Happy 2010! I hope that every day is a celebration for you.
It's a new year, and also my one year blog anniversary. Gosh, I've had fun and learned a lot these past twelve months. Like so many of you, I started out wanting to write a family history of recipes, sharing the old and the new, remembering, staying connected through our food history.
And like so many things, this blog grew to something I never dreamed of, a way to meet new friends who share my love of good food, who express love and creativity in its preparation and and presentation. Through your writings and your food, I have come to know you and to cherish your visits here and to love visiting you at your place. And your place could be anywhere on this magnificent globe of ours, the United States, Canada, Brazil, India, Singapore, England, The Netherlands, The Philippines, Portugal. I wish I could remember who said it and exactly how they said it because it was so eloquent and expressed my feelings so perfectly, so let me say this in my own words: Come, let me feed you, let's eat together and share the bounty, however humble it may be, that is before us. Let us be grateful in our own way. Let us create peace, kitchen to kitchen.
Remembering the past, looking forward to the future, Something old, something new. When I decided to make these cookies, I thought about the symbolism in making them together (my English teachers would be so proud of me right now).
Growing up, my father who insisted on being the sole breadwinner, ironically, was not inspired or elevated by work. He expended a lot of imagination creating illness and injury, feeling put upon, and entitled. At this point, my brother Grant and I can laugh about it. We understand the value of having a really good bad example in our lives. We learned what not to be, what not to do. To this day, I have to thank him for some of the values I hold dear. Have a life, have a clue, show up, do good work, accept and offer help when it's needed Practice self reliance.Believe in God. Keep the best and move forward. I don't remember who said it, but we are greater than the sum total of our experiences. I think that's because we have the added value of choice.
So what does that have to do with cookies. Every couple of weeks (or was it every month, I don't recall) my father used to show up at the selectman's office. There was (is there still?) a program where the county, via a government program, handed out surplus foods to families that were living at or near the poverty level. He'd go there (with a hangdog, beleaguered look) and bring home a cardboard box full of powdered milk, pounds of butter, oatmeal, cornmeal, whole wheat flour, canned meats, and tin buckets of peanut butter.
Peanut butter cookies are one of my all time favorites, on equal footing with oatmeal. As you can see from the recipe, it uses products that could typically be found in a surplus foods box and a simple pantry. No vanilla, no shortening. These simple, humble cookies are crumbly, peanut buttery. Good, but not great.
USDA PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES
Makes 4-5 dozen.
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup white sugar
2 cup brown sugar (packed)
(little extra white sugar in a plate or bowl, for decoration)
Mix flour, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl.
In a large bowl, combine the butter, peanut butter, white and brown sugars; mix well. Add the two eggs and mix well.
Add the dry ingredients to the peanut butter mixture, and mix well.
Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Slightly flatten the dough by dipping the tines of a fork into a little sugar and make the traditional criss cross pattern.
Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Chaya, my blogging friend, of Sweet and Savory Says it All and Chaya's Comfy Cook asked me a while back to bake up a batch of her favorite chocolate chip cookies, a recipe by King Arthur Flour. Impossible to refuse because I trust Chaya's cooking, and plus I own three of the King Arthur cookbooks and share Chaya's enthusiasm for their recipes.
Chocolate is not a favorite of mine so it took me a while to round back to keeping my promise. Ole Sweetie-Pi, however, loves chocolate, often buying himself candy bars and stashing them away (must be a holdover from childhood because he wouldn't have to worry about me snitching them, grins). So when I said I was making chocolate chip, he was all big smiles, and as soon as the first batch came out of the oven, and he could eat one without burning his tongue on the hot melting chips, he poured himself a glass of milk and grabbed two off the cooling rack. His verdict? These are good! More big smiles. I broke one in half to try, and these are indeed good!
I found this cookie to be crunchy, crumbly (KAF also describes them as crunchy) not like the "traditional" Tollhouse cookie which I would describe as more chewy (plus to ensure the chewiness factor I take the Tollhouse cookie out of the oven part way during baking, slap the cookie sheet sharply on the counter or stove to deflate them, a trick I learned from a girlfriend who worked in one of those shopping mall cookie shops). I think if you love a crunchy chocolate chip cookie, you'll look a long time to find one better than this.
CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
(The Cookie Companion, King Arthur Flour)
1/2 cup (one stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cider vinegar or white vinegar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all purpose flour
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, the white and brown sugars, vanilla, salt, and vinegar.
Beat in the egg, then the baking soda and flour. Stir in the chips.
Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheets
Bake 12-14 minutes until they're golden brown. Remove them from the oven and transfer to cooling rack.
So that is my something old, something new. Keep the good stuff, learn from the past, create a better future, if not for yourself, then for others.
Wishing you a bountiful and blessed 2010, my friends, always, all ways.