Peanut Butter Cookies
My elementary school lunch, creamy peanut butter and grape jelly on Schmidt's Blue Ribbon white bread, a single-serve bag of Utz potato chips, and a small carton of chocolate milk from the school lunch counter. My lunch-box, metal, Super Friends. I'd unhook the metal latch, which squeaked, and a rush of school lunch past would flood my olfactory. I think you know the smell I'm talking about. It's the smell of white bread crumbs and plastic sandwich bags. That stale smell that can only come from a metal lunchbox that spent a good part of its day in the confines of a school locker without proper ventilation.
Mom had a heavy hand with the grape jelly. This displeased me. I would peel the bread apart, one triangle at a time, and witness the massacre of an otherwise perfect sandwich. The sweet little girl in me, not wanting to break my mothers heart, never removed the globs of jelly. Instead, I closed the sandwich and took bite after tiny bite. I chewed with sour face, a labor of love.
It was not in my best interest to be confrontational with my mother. She had only my best interest at heart. I knew of no other kids my age whose mother drove them to the Hickory Mart before school. There my mother would give me two quarters which were promptly spent on honing my Pac-Man playing skills. While mom drank her small coffee, I drank my small hot chocolate. While mom talked to the lady behind the counter, I stared dreamy-eyed at the candy and gum display...the eye level candy and gum display. I always left with something, be it an edible necklace, Bazooka gum, or the taboo candy cigarettes. Once I even left with a pack of gum without paying...
As an adult I still enjoy peanut butter, sans the globs of jelly. I enjoy a nice, modest spread of jam, evenly spread, of course. I don't go for chunky peanut butter, only smooth. My taste has gone from the sweet, hydrogenated variety to the organic, no salt, no sugar kind.
Recently, fretting to myself that I was in dire need of peanut butter cookies (even though, only two days before, I had yet again baked Rachel's nice plain cake), I whipped up a batch. Roberto stood charged with making dinner. My whims often leave him holding the pot of boiling water. My baking urges are sometimes frenzied weeknight pursuits.
'Have you ever made them before?' Roberto asked.
What a silly question, I thought to myself.
'Yes, many times. Although, never with organic peanut butter.' I said.
I consulted the Joy of Cooking for the recipe. I organized the dry ingredients before moving on to the wet. Once the wet combined, I added in the dry. The dough was a bit more crumbly than I remembered. The lack of man-made sweeteners and stabilizing agents—the things that make commercial peanut butter so...commercial—were taking its toll.
I pressed on, though. Literally. After rolling the balls of dough between my palms...I should say it was rather like a squeeze and roll, squeeze and roll...it was rather crumbly, I placed the balls onto the baking sheet and pressed down with the back of a small glass. Then with fork tines, I created the cross-hatch affect that peanut butter cookies are known for.
After dinner we sat down to our espresso and a small plate of cookies. I took a bite. I was happy. I knew not to expect the peanut butter cookies from days of yore. The flavor was mild, not too sweet. A nice alternative. While the perimeter of the cookie stood a bit more textured and frayed, due to the crumbliness, I found it quite charming. The imperfection in execution and resulting flavor was lovely to me.