Thursday, May 17, 2012

How I eat.

The free food pile was threatening to overwhelm its corner.  At the time of this recipe, it contained: 2 half-open bottles of red wine (Two Buck Chuck for the win(e)!), a bottle of Cointreau, a mostly-gone bottle of tequila (notice the cork floating), two prickly pears, two limes (jalapeno-prickly pear-lime margaritas were the order of the night), a clove of garlic, and this horrible attempt at hazelnut-white chocolate-rose macarons (the piece of paper is a warning sign to all potentially interested parties).  (Since then, we've added several bottles of hot sauce, tamari almonds, hot dog buns, and some mate.)  The tragedy of the commons at work.

Clearly, something had to be done.  Fortunately, in addition to the dire state of The Corner, I had plans to attend the [Legendary] Anderson Valley Beer Festival.  The solution was then obvious - what better way to prevent the beer from going to our heads than these:

I don't even have to tell you what these are, for they have been marked with the international symbol of the peanut butter cookie.  This particular recipe was adapted from one of my favorite informational food blogs - the Joy of Baking.

When I took the pictures for this entry, I was thinking a lot about the banana bread post.  I have a image in the middle of the post of a slice of banana bread on a plate on the table.  I had just served it to David, and took a picture before it disappeared.  I like the way it sits, slightly tumbled, onto the plate.  It looks like food, it looks ready to be sampled, munched, gobbled...eaten.

That is how I serve food, and I much prefer that photo to the one I have at the end of the post.  It is true that I like a tablecloth and I like beautiful plates and I like elegant utensils...but I don't go a lot further than that.

I don't actually tie a scrap of purple cloth around my fork and eat banana bread on a lace doily.

I do, however, eat peanut butter cookies from a glass plate in the sunshine.  And I do drink milk out of mason jars.  Maybe you do, too.

Peanut Butter Cookies
Adapted from The Joy of Baking

You'll recall that Skippy was the large, free tub of peanut butter on the counter.  I found that this brand was less - well - peanut-buttery than my usual Laura Scudder's.  After sampling the batter, I added an extra 1/4 cup of peanut butter.  I've never needed extra before, so, your call.

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup peanut butter, smooth or crunchy (1 cup of Skippy or other not-so-peanut buttery brand) 
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour (sub all-purpose if you don't have it)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped peanuts (optional - I don't; usually I have crunchy peanut butter anyway)


  • Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Cream the butter and the sugars until light and fluffy (several minutes in a stand mixer).
  • Scrape down the sides, and add the egg and vanilla.  Mix thoroughly.

  • Scrape down the sides again, and add the peanut butter to the butter mixture.  Mix thoroughly.
  • Whisk the whole-wheat pastry flour in a bowl.  Sift in the baking soda (my baking soda is often clumpy.  It only took one batch of cornbread with little white lumps to convince me to sift for ever after) and salt.  Whisk to combine.
  • Add the flour mixture to the butter bowl and mix to combine.
  • The dough is probably pretty soft at this point.  I thought it worked all right to roll out balls, but if you have the time to put it in the fridge for 30 minutes, it will make things easier.
  • Roll the (chilled or unchilled) dough into one inch balls (1" in diameter), and place about 2 inches apart.  Make a criss-cross pattern using a fork (tip: if you dip the fork in cold water, it won't stick to the dough so much.  Also, sticking is less of a problem for chilled dough.)
  • Bake about 12 minutes, until the cookies are lightly browned.  Remove the cookies from the sheet and set on a rack to cool.  These cookies can be kept at room temperature for a week or so (if they last that long), or you can freeze them for longer storage.


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