Category Archives: Cookies

New York Peanut Butter Cookies

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER
Columbia County, New York  I  Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Believe it or not, I hadn’t ever made peanut butter cookies until recently!

While I was isolating during COVID-19, I decided to give them a try and work on them until I thought they were perfect. During eight weeks of isolation, I tried variations of this recipe seven times!

It’s like this, folks. The isolation of COVID-19 left me a bit worried and lonely and sad. New York was the hotbed of virus cases in the United States, particularly New York City, which is only a few hours away.

Lots of people who live in the city also have weekend houses up in my county, and they came here to escape. I don’t blame them, but it also made me nervous.

There is a nursing home a mere two miles from me, and they had 30 cases of the virus, with 12 deaths. I was too cautious to even go to my favorite sandwich shop in town, because I knew the nurses and CNAs and other workers from this nursing home were passing through there.

So, I asked myself, what could I do at this frightening time that was positive, to try and take my mind off all this?

I’m not a nurse, or a doctor, or a scientist, and I can’t treat people, I can’t cure them. I can’t figure out what causes COVID.

I’m not a musician, and I can’t put on a Facebook Live concert every Friday night to entertain people, and help them forget about their worries for awhile. I’m not a famous singer who can record another version of a beloved song from my living room which will make people happy, and score a million YouTube views in the matter of a few days.

But what I can do, something positive, one of the things I’m good at, is baking cookies. My cookies always turn out. They make my house smell good. They make my son happy. They make me feel smiley and successful.

Baking makes me feel a bit more in control of this crazy world. I can usually predict how things will come out, and if it’s not quite right, then I can tweak a few things until I’m satisfied.

I love making cookies. Cookies are one of the ways I add a little bit of happiness and beauty back into a world which is sometimes full of sadness and ugly, unpredictable things.

So, when I first started researching peanut butter cookies, I looked up a bunch of different recipes and background information online. I wondered why peanut butter cookies always have a crisscross pattern made with a fork. Have you ever thought about it, or just taken it for granted?

I discovered the main reason is because the dough is so dense, it needs to be flattened out before it bakes, so the cookies will bake evenly.

I also suspect it’s to make peanut butter cookies easily identifiable. Without the crisscross, they might be mistaken for sugar cookies, right? People with peanut allergies need to be able to identify them at a bake sale.

Then, I found out something even more fascinating. The very first mention in print of peanut butter cookies having a crisscross pattern happened right here in New York state!

On July 1st, 1932, the Schenectady Gazette published a recipe calling for the fork crisscross. Schenectady (that’s pronounced Skeh-neck-tuh-dee) is a city just about an hour north of here!

So New York, this what I did, to try and stay positive during such a scary time. I made delicious peanut butter cookies, and I named them after you.

NEW YORK PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat in peanut butter.

Add egg and vanilla and mix. Dump in flour and sprinkle baking soda across the top. Then stir again, until all ingredients are incorporated.

Roll into small balls and place on greased cookie sheet. Using a fork with long tines, make a crisscross pattern on each cookie. Bake 8 minutes. Enjoy!

Helpful Hints
Save the wrapper from your stick of butter and use it to grease the cookie sheets.

I hate cleaning peanut butter out of a measuring cup. I think it’s a waste, because it’s hard to get out. I just place a one-cup measuring cup near my mixing bowl, and use it to gauge the amount of peanut butter I put directly into the bowl.

Speaking of peanut butter, I don’t refrigerate mine. It’s much easier to spread on a sandwich or mix into cookie dough this way!

[RECOMMENDED READING]
http://www.newenglandrecipes.org/html/peanut-butter-cookies.html

[RECOMMENDED VIEWING]
Dennis DeYoung singing and playing “The Best of Times” from his home in April 2020. Viewing time is under three minutes.

Dennis DeYoung and the Music of Styx, performing live in Los Angeles in 2014. Viewing time is 1 hour, 40 minutes.

One of Dennis’s guitar players, August Zadra, put on Facebook Live acoustic guitar concerts every Friday night during COVID. At this writing, they’re still happening. Check out his Facebook page at August Zadra Music.

[RECIPE SOURCE]
I used this recipe from Fannie Farmer the first two times I made the cookies, then adapted it to be more to my own liking.

In order to get a softer cookie, I increased the amount of brown sugar and decreased the amount white sugar. I experimented with baking times of both 8 and 10 minutes, and decided 8 made for a much softer cookie.

Then I increased the amount of peanut butter, wanting a more peanut-buttery taste.

Here’s the recipe I started with:
https://www.food.com/recipe/fannie-farmer-peanut-butter-cookies-half-recipe-535344

 

Cinnamon Orange Snickerdoodles

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER
Columbia County, New York  I  Friday, 31 January 2020

I found a recipe called Orange Cinnamon Crisps many years ago, when I clipped it from a bag of Albertsons’ sugar.

I used to make these cookies all the time, but then I stopped, frustrated because they weren’t turning out right. They were spreading out too much, making them thin at the edges, and were impossible to remove from the cookie sheet, even though I’d greased it.

I never did figure out the problem for sure, but my best guess was that I’d moved, and my new oven wasn’t preheating as quickly as I thought it was. You can’t always trust a digital oven.

The oven I have now is an older, built-in wall unit, and I find it consistently heats to 50 degrees below what the dial reads. You can’t always trust an old oven, either.

I recommend you get an oven thermometer which hangs on your oven rack, the kind with a dial. They’re pretty cheap, and you can buy them right at the grocery store. You might be surprised to find out your oven hasn’t been baking at the temperature you thought it was!

Anyways, I don’t really like calling these cookies crisps. For one thing, in my mind, a crisp is more like an apple crisp, a pie-like baked dessert with a crumbly oatmeal topping.

For another thing, these cookies aren’t really crisp at all, they’re soft, just the way I like them. So I decided to call them snickerdoodles, instead. Snickerdoodles usually have cream of tartar in the recipe, and these don’t. Snickerdoodles are usually more crackly looking than these cookies, too. But snickerdoodles are always rolled in cinnamon sugar, and so are these cookies.  Besides, snickerdoodles is just fun to say!

I made these cookies again this month, after a long hiatus with the recipe, and they turned out perfectly, just the way I remember from when I first started making them. The dough smells wonderful, and the cookies taste light and delicious.

Hello again, old friends. Hello Cinnamon Orange Snickerdoodles!

Continue reading

All My Cookies!

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER
Columbia County, New York  I  Saturday, 31 March 2018

CLAUDINE’S CARROT COOKIES

VALERIE’S CELESTIAL CHOCOLATE CHIPPERS

JT’S ROOT BEER COOKIES

PERLE’S MOLASSES CRINKLES

LORI’S PUMPKIN COOKIES

MARTHA’S CHEWY CHOCOLATE-GINGERBREAD COOKIES

There’ve been a few times lately when I’ve wanted to bake cookies, without being sure exactly which recipe to choose.

So I’ve headed to my blog, but then had to do a keyword search for “cookies” and then scroll through all the recipes.

This seemed rather inconvenient, so I decided to make a new post which included my favorite photos of each type of cookie, and then the link to the original blogpost, which would include the recipe.

This might be a selfish post, one I did for myself. But maybe it might be helpful to you, too.

I’m also working on a Cookie Chart Centerfold.

Cookies in a centerfold? Now I’m sure you’re snickering to yourself and mumbling under your breath that COOKIES aren’t exactly what you imagine in a centerfold.

Let me explain.

Sometimes, shamefully, I’m out of a certain ingredient, like eggs or chocolate chips. But I want to make cookies. So I dig through all my recipes until I come up with one which doesn’t require the ingredient I’m lacking.

Besides, if I get the urge to make cookies at midnight, but I’m low on eggs (or out of them completely) I’m not going into town, and I’m certainly not borrowing from a neighbor at that hour.

So I decided to list all my cookie recipes, with a chart of ingredients, so it’d be really easy to see which ones require what.

What does the centerfold part have to do with it? Well, I thought it might be nice to create an old fashioned, printed cookbook of the recipes.

As much as I love blogs, both creating my own, as well as reading others’ posts, sometimes I really hate cooking from a screen.

You have to find counter space for your device, and make sure it’s plugged in. You have to worry about spills, and getting it dirty. You have to keep touching it with floury fingers, to scroll.

And in my case, I have a Chromebook, and the screen is oriented differently from a traditional book page. Yeah, it might be easier to cook from the screen of a tablet or a smartphone, which is oriented such that you can see your entire list of ingredients without having to scroll so much.

So, I’m thinking of printing up the recipes into a small booklet, and the ingredients would be the Cookie Chart Centerfold.

There’s just something nice about a traditional cookbook. But for now, here’s the links. Get your bake on, and enjoy!

[HERE’S THE RECIPES]
Click on the shortlink to be rerouted to the original My Copper Kitchen post for each cookie, which includes the recipe.

Valerie’s Celestial Chocolate Chippers
first published August 19, 2015
https://wp.me/p8pd67-nE

JT’s Root Beer Cookies
First published October 14, 2016
https://wp.me/p8pd67-rl

Perle’s Molasses Crinkles
First published February 11, 2017
https://wp.me/p8pd67-Qi

Lori’s Pumpkin Cookies
First published October 27, 2016
https://wp.me/p8pd67-Jo

Martha’s Chewy Chocolate-Gingerbread Cookies
First published December 14, 2016
https://wp.me/p8pd67-Mg

Claudine’s Carrot Cookies
first published May 27, 2015
https://wp.me/p8pd67-iU
(Yes, I know the pictures in this post aren’t facing the right direction, and it’s something I can’t figure out how to fix. Well, I DO know how to fix it, but it requires the original files for the photos, which I don’t have anymore.)

 

 

Perle’s Molasses Crinkles

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER  I  Ghent, NY  I  Saturday, 11 February 2017

These are such pretty, tasty cookies! The recipe came from a 1948 Better Homes and Gardens’ recipe contest. Normally, I use butter in my cookies, but in this recipe, I maintain the use of shortening, figuring it’s truer to time period.

PERLE’S MOLASSES CRINKLES
3/4 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup coarse sugar, separate use

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a mixing bowl beat shortening, then add brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.

Beat in egg and molasses, then stir in flour.

Roll dough balls in coarse sugar and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 10 minutes. Enjoy!

 

Aunt Jan’s Peanut Cookies

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER  I  Philmont, NY  I  Wednesday, 21 December 2016

When I was growing up, my sisters and I waited with bated breath every December for the arrival of Aunt Jan’s Christmas cookies.

Sometimes, my childish heart would despair, thinking this might be the year she would forget us, five little girls growing up in New York, far away from our grandmother and all our aunts and uncles and cousins who lived in Utah and Idaho.

But she never did. Every year we would come home from school one day in December and there it would be on the kitchen table, The Package. The cookies were always securely packed in big coffee cans, with Aunt Jan’s careful touch. She made the same things, year after year: snow white divinity, milk chocolaty fudge, crunchy peanut brittle, and my two favorites: pretty date pinwheels and cakelike peanut cookies.

My dad, Jan’s brother, would squirrel the package away so we wouldn’t devour it all in one day. Every once in awhile he would bring it out and let us have a treat or two, and this ensured there were still some left to enjoy on Christmas Eve.

That night, we always had a program which included saying prayers, singing Christmas carols, and reading the Christmas story from the Bible (Luke 2) which seemed to take forever. (I was surprised, as an adult, when I started this tradition with my own boys, to see how short it actually is!) Then, we were each allowed to open one present and have some treats.

Heaven, when I could get one of the coveted peanut cookies.

I have many other memories of Aunt Jan and Uncle Ed, too.

Sometimes, in the summer, we would drive cross country from New York to Utah, in a crowded Pontiac station wagon with no air conditioning. How we ever made it, I’ll never know.

I have vague and fuzzy memories of eating sandwiches at rest stops, the bread drying quickly in the warm wind, buying little wooden animals or polished rocks at souvenir shops, and lounging on a mattress in back of the car. All there was to do was sleep or read or stare out the window at cornfield after cornfield after cornfield.

After these hot and tiring journeys, we would arrive at Jan and Ed’s house, luxurious, in the foothills of Bountiful, a suburb of Salt Lake. We kids all thought they were rich, and maybe they were.

Their house was very different than ours. It was a ranch constructed of sloppy mortar brick, with white carpet in the living room, delicately painted china and figurines on display, and floor-to-ceiling curtains in the bedrooms. They had a shady back patio bordered by a short brick wall with rosebushes, and a small and tidy back yard.

Their basement, where we usually stayed, was cool and dark, mysterious and comfortable. Uncle Ed had a built-in bar, which fascinated us, with rows of liquor bottles and sparkling glasses hanging up high, and there was always a bowl of nuts with a nutcracker on the coffee table.

In the morning, Aunt Jan liked to sleep in, because she stayed up late to see Uncle Ed when he came home from work. But before she went to bed, she would put out everything for us to have a good breakfast. They had a tiny TV in the kitchen and an ironing board which folded down from a wall cabinet, and I thought this was amazing.

I remember writing in my little journal about their luxury car, with its vinyl top and tiny windows on the sides, in the back. It was very different from our station wagon and somehow felt like riding in a fairy coach, whisking us around in enviable style.

Aunt Jan and Uncle Ed had no children together, so they would spoil us. Aunt Jan would always take us to Lagoon, an amusement park, and let us ride all day. Then, and THEN, she would take us to the mall for new clothes, a completely new outfit of shirt and stylish jeans. Oh, happiness!

Eventually, in 1992, after I was graduated from college, Aunt Jan died, losing her long battle with cancer. I always remembered her peanut cookies fondly, but figured the recipe died with her. So you can imagine how excited I was to be rifling through my mother’s recipe box a few years ago and find that Aunt Bonnie, Jan’s sister, had written it down and given it to my mom!

I made the cookies for the first time a few weeks ago, and they tasted just like I remembered from years ago! The recipe is very inexact, though, so I’m still working on it and can’t share it with you yet. (It calls for butter the size of an egg, says the eggs should be cooked in a double-boiler mixture, and doesn’t even tell how many minutes to bake it!)

The cookies are difficult to frost and to get the peanuts to stick. My sister and I’ve been researching other recipes for cookies with the same name, but they’re very different from Jan’s recipe. This one will be in progress for awhile, I suppose…

But the important thing is this: Aunt Jan cared enough to always remember us. God bless her for making our childhood Christmases a little brighter. I can’t imagine how far in advance she must have had to start to get all the cookies baked and mailed in time. And she worked full-time, too.

Just yesterday, I sent a goodie package to Thing 1, containing three things: Chewy Chocolate-Gingerbread Cookies, Celestial Chocolate Chippers, and Jo McCall’s Toffee. Somehow, though, I also longed to send him Peanut Cookies…

 

[AUTHOR’S NOTE]
Aunt Jan was also a talented seamstress. When I was digging around in the barn apartment (same episode where I found the fabulous orange and yellow curtains!) I found this suit, miraculously unscathed by little critters. When I asked my mom about it, she told me Aunt Jan made it for her.

I thought, “Oh, that can’t be true. There’s a tag in the skirt.” But upon closer inspection, I found the tag simply said “front”.

Isn’t it pretty?

Chewy Chocolate-Gingerbread Cookies

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER  I  Philmont, NY  I  Wednesday, 14 December 2016

My first Christmas as a mother, December 1997, was the year I discovered Chewy Chocolate-Gingerbread Cookies, where else but in the current issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine?! My mother was staying with me during maternity leave after I gave birth to Thing 1, my little five-pound bag of sugar (he weighed a mere four pounds, 15 ounces) and she made these cookies more times than I could count.

I remember sitting in a rocking chair while my new baby slept, with my feet up, trying to get the swelling to go down, and poring endlessly over the magazine with penguin cookies with exquisite royal icing on the cover.

And I was thinking happily, it all starts now. It’s not just me at Christmas any more, I have a little one now.

I didn’t make the cookies myself until many years later, when I decided to make the recipe simpler by substituting a bag of dark chocolate chips. Now, it’s an annual tradition and it just wouldn’t seem like Christmas without them.

Oh sure, I could make them at another time of year, but they wouldn’t taste as good. They taste best while sitting near the Christmas tree, sipping eggnog and listening to The Carpenters. And while remembering Christmases past, enjoying Christmas present, and dreaming of Christmases future…

CHEWY CHOCOLATE-GINGERBREAD COOKIES
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon freshly grated or finely diced ginger root
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 bag dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup white sugar (separate use)

Mix together the flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cocoa powder.

In another bowl, stir together softened butter and grated ginger root. Add brown sugar and stir until combined, then mix in molasses.

In a very small bowl, dissolve the baking soda in 1 1/2 teaspoons boiling water.

Beat half the flour mixture into the butter mixture, then stir in the baking soda mixture. Next, stir in the rest of the flour mixture.

Mix in chocolate chips and turn dough out onto two large pieces of waxed paper. (If you’ve had a hard time incorporating all the chocolate chips into the batter with your mixing spoon, like I usually do, you can press them in with the waxed paper now.)

Flatten dough and fold the edges of the wax paper over it. Refrigerate dough for two hours. (If you’re going to refrigerate it for longer than two hours, or if you plan to freeze it for later, put the waxed-paper packages into a large plastic freezer bag.)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Roll walnut-sized balls in granulated sugar and place on baking sheet. Bake until surfaces crack slightly, about 10-12 minutes.

It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas…

 

Dough balls rolled in white sugar. They look so pretty and sparkly!

 

Yep, that pine needle is on the plate for extra flavoring. Ooops!

[ORIGINAL RECIPE]
http://www.marthastewart.com/339353/chewy-chocolate-gingerbread-cookies

[RECOMMENDED LISTENING]
Christmas Portrait, The Carpenters, 1978, A&M Records.

[RECOMMENDED READING]
Skipping Christmas, John Grisham, Doubleday, 2001.

 

Lori’s Pumpkin Cookies

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER  I  Greenport, NY  I  Thursday, 27 October 2016

dscf4489

My old roommate and fellow Rocket, Lori, she makes the best pumpkin cookies ever!

There’s only one problem, after you eat them you’ll never be able to go back to store-bought pumpkin cookies, because they’re downright dry and disappointing compared to Lori’s moist, delicious cookies.

I first remember her making these for us when we were in college and I’ve been in love with this recipe ever since!

LORI’S LAKETOWN PUMPKIN COOKIES
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
bag of chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and mix, then stir in pumpkin. In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients: flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder. Combine wet and dry ingredients, then stir in chocolate chips. Drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

dscf4437Gather your ingredients. I was visiting southeastern Ohio at the time of this photoshoot, so I used eggs from my sister and brother-in-law’s chickens, as well as Amish butter.

dscf4444Creaming white sugar into butter.

dscf4461Yin and yang: pumpkin puree and the creamed mixture of butter, white sugar, eggs, and vanilla.

dscf4463Wet and dry ingredients waiting to be combined.

dscf4471A double batch of pumpkin cookie dough.

These cookies are delicious, but not very pretty to look at, since they’re a dark orangey brown and kind of shapeless. Because of this, make sure to serve them on a bright, decorative plate.

This just in: yesterday I let Lori know I was going to publish her recipe and found out more information! She says she originally got the recipe from a lady named Mona when it was published in her grandmother’s church cookbook in 1981, in a small town near Bear Lake, Utah.

And guess what? There was a frosting recipe included, which neither Lori nor I have ever made for the pumpkin cookies. Why don’t you try it, and I’ll try it, and we’ll see how it turns out?!

Frosting For Lori’s Laketown Pumpkin Cookies
1 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons milk
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a sauce pan, stir together brown sugar, butter, and milk, and boil for two minutes. Cool mixture, then add powdered sugar and vanilla.

[NOTES]
You might as well double the recipe. Just go ahead. The recipe calls for one cup of pumpkin, but a 15-ounce can of pumpkin is more like two cups. Never have I ever remembered to use the second cup of pumpkin, stashed in the fridge or freezer, but somehow I ALWAYS remember to bake the second half of the dough I’ve stashed in the freezer for later…

Lori’s original recipe calls for shortening. I’ve taken the liberty of substituting butter. (She said she does this, too.) She also says she uses a Pampered Chef cookie dough scoop to help make the cookies a more uniform shape.

 

JT’s Root Beer Cookies

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER  I  Hamden, Ohio  I  Friday, 14 October 2016

dscf3703

Yesterday I left Salt Lake City with Thing 2 and my sister and flew to Ohio. We left Thing 1 behind at our place with the two-butt kitchen to start his new life as a grown up.

But more about that later, it’s very Bittersweet. Shall we talk about cookies? I like to Shower the People I Love With Love. And cookies.

I used to work with this guy, I’ll call him JT. He had the same name as a famous singer (there are hints in this post, let me know when you figure it out!) and everyone loved him because he had a great sense of humor. He had thinning, curly-brown hair, a friendly, gap-toothed grin, and was brimming with mischief. You could just see it on his face, in his eyes and in his smile.

His cute wife worked as an executive assistant at the same company, and boy, could she ever match an outfit! Some ladies just know how to put things together, and she was one of them. It was always such a treat when she visited our marketing department and I could see what she was wearing. I still remember how she had big eyes behind her glasses, sometimes wore daisy earrings, and had a perky hairdo.

Anyways, in the fall, heading down that October Road, JT used to delight our department with plates of his delicious, moist, root beer cookies. You wouldn’t expect this jokester to ever be home baking cookies, but yet he did.

I begged this recipe off JT over 20 years ago.

JT’S ROOT BEER COOKIES
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon root beer extract
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Root Beer Glaze (see recipe below)

Cream brown sugar and butter until fluffy. Mix in egg. Stir in buttermilk, root beer extract, flour, and baking soda, and mix until smooth. Cover and refrigerate one hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease cookie sheet. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto cookie sheet and bake 6-8 minutes. While cookies are baking, make root beer glaze.

Root Beer Glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons root beer extract
3-4 tablespoons hot water

Cream powdered sugar and butter. Stir in root beer extract and hot water and whisk to make a smooth  glaze. Keep glaze in a small bowl on stove top, so heat from oven will keep it from thickening up too much.

After cookies are baked, place them on waxed paper and spoon glaze over top. The glaze that drips onto the waxed paper can be reused. How Sweet It Is!

Variations
These cookies also work great as ice cream sandwiches. Glaze only half the cookies and put the glazed ones on top, the unglazed ones on bottom, and vanilla ice cream in the middle. Freeze. They taste super delicious on a hot summer day!

These cookies end up being brown and rather boring looking, so make sure to serve them on a colorful and decorative plate to add interest.

Or, they would look pretty dusted with some finely crushed root beer sticks. You know, the old-fashioned striped ones they sell in jars at candy counters. While glaze is still runny on cookies, sprinkle root beer stick dust over the glaze, and press down gently with back of a spoon. Allow glaze to set.

When I was a child and we were headed to Greenport to go grocery shopping or to do laundry, I would beg my mother to drive there via Fish & Game Road, hoping we would stop at Hotalings. It was a pretty little farm market, surrounded by an apple orchard and views of the Catskill Mountains. They also sold root beer sticks…

[PROP NOTES]
My sister Cheri bought me the blue-rimmed cookie plate/cake stand in July of 2015. We purchased it from Berkshire Pottery in Hillsdale, New York, right near the border of Massachussetts. The pottery is run by the Stosiek family, and I went to high school with their daughter, Erika. The shop is in a bucolic setting, in an old red barn right near a river, and full of wonderful pottery for sale, artistically arranged. Adjacent is the neat little family farm. Check out their history and wares at:
http://www.berkshirepottery.com/

The root beer extract is from Hires Big H in Salt Lake City. To learn more:
http://www.hiresbigh.com/about

The green glass was a fab find from Saver’s thrift store. I had two but they got broken as I was packing to move. Both of them were sitting on the counter and I reached up to grab some glasses for packing. One of my stoneware mugs (which had been double stacked for three years without incident) came flying down and obliterated four different glasses.

Don’t worry, I’ll be haunting Salvation Army in Greenport as soon as I make it there. Need. New. Things. Ha!

The orange-rimmed stoneware plate is from TAG’s thrift store. I was able to purchase five of them, and was excited because I knew they matched the one I’d seen at my parents’ house in New York, where there was mysteriously only one. How can you not be happy when eating off a plate with an orange rim and cheerful yellow flowers? Impossible.

Soon I’ll be making cookies in my new old red kitchen, In the Light of New York, in the house on the Country Road. Stick with me to follow my journey. You’ve Got a Friend!

Oh! Have you figured out what JT stands for?

[NOTE]
JT gave me a photocopy of the recipe, taken straight from a cookbook, but it doesn’t have the source. I’ve tried to track it down, since I’m big on recipe provenance, but have thus far been unsuccessful.

 

Celestial Chocolate Chippers

DSCF2645AFTER-SCHOOL SNACK ATTACK/2645BB

By Valerie Belden Wilder

Remember that cookie recipe I told you about? My very favorite one? I said I would share it at back-to-school time, huh? Well…

My boys went back to school. I TOLD you I’d get ‘er done! Thing 2 headed off to junior high, seventh grade. And Thing 1 became Big Man on Campus, a Senior in high school. For the first time in thirteen years, I didn’t drop off a child at our elementary school. You know the one, the one with the cheerful bulletin boards full of crayon drawings, projects made of cotton balls and Q-tips and paper plates.

I feel the book closing on the chapters of childhood, and it makes me sad. But excited. What’s that saying? God doesn’t close a door without opening a window? And my little birds flew away, out the window today, into the beautiful August blue of sky which beckoned them.

One of the ways I cure my sadness and show my love for others is cooking and baking. Are you like me? And it’s so nice, so NICE, for kids to come home from school, or anywhere, for that matter, and smell something delicious in the kitchen.

A house which smells like food cooking or baking is the most hopeful house of all…

And we want our kids to enjoy coming home, right? I mean, it’s fun for them to hang out with friends at the mall or skate park or have sleepovers at other houses (especially when the friends have man caves and freezers full of Hot Pockets and we’ve got nothin’), but we should always strive to make our homes warm and happy places, ones which our kids love to finally return to.

When things have been tough for me, I’ve turned to making cookies. These cookies. When the kids have been sad and skies have been grey and rainy, I’ve turned to the cookie cure. I’ve made this recipe dozens, if not hundreds of times, constantly tweaking and adapting the recipe to perfection. At one point I was making them so often, the recipe card lived on the windowsill over the sink, never to be put away. That’s why it’s so faded and water stained.

I searched a long time for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe, always coming away slightly disappointed. But these cookies, to me, are perfection. They taste divine and are soft. And they look just how I want them to, with just the right amount of a bumpy-textured top. Plus, since they have oatmeal and peanut butter in them, instead of just chocolate chips, I feel a bit less guilty letting the kids demolish an entire plateful in one afternoon. And trust me, they do.

Would you like me to share it? My very best recipe? Of course you would! Well, my blog has been live for more than six months now, we’ve become great friends, and it’s time for me to stop holding out and jealously guarding my best cookie recipe. So here goes.

Drum roll, please! From me to you, may I present…(is this QUITE enough drama for you?)

CELESTIAL CHOCOLATE CHIPPERS

3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter, preferably chunky
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
2 cups oatmeal, dry
1 bag chocolate chips
(Hershey’s, Nestle, or Ghirardelli)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, using an oven thermometer to ensure proper temperature. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and peanut butter thoroughly until combined. Cream white and brown sugars into mixture. Add baking powder and baking soda, sprinkling across bowl instead of dumping, mixing very thoroughly to avoid clumping or streaking. Add beaten eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour. At this point, switch to a long-handled spoon, as batter will become quite stiff and difficult to stir. Mix in dry oatmeal, and finally, chocolate chips.

Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake 9 to 11 minutes, until tops are golden brown. (Cookie centers should look brown, and not grey.) Allow cookies to cool on cookie sheet, off the stove top, before removing from sheet. Enjoy with plenty of milk!

[HELPFUL HINTS]

Reserve a small amount of chocolate chips from batter. After you’ve dropped spoonfuls of batter onto cookie sheet, individually place chips into any bare-looking spots in unbaked cookies. Press down into batter. They’ll look better this way, trust me! And, speaking of chocolate chips, don’t ever buy the really cheap ones. Just. Don’t. Go. There.

After batter is mixed, immediately divide in half. Bake half the cookies now, and wrap the other half of the dough in waxed paper, for later. Put in the fridge if you plan to bake next day, or into the freezer, also wrapped in aluminum foil, if you want to have an unexpected treat to stumble across later. The first batch of cookies are the BEST. The rest of them will taste so much better on a different day…you know that day. The one where you’re too broke to buy good chocolate chips, or too tired to bake from scratch, or in a panic because unexpected company showed up…

Try out some good-quality vanilla. My favorite is Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract, available at Sur La Table or Williams-Sonoma. Warning: you might not ever go back to imitation vanilla. I haven’t!

Spray your measuring cup with non-stick cooking spray, such as Pam, before spooning in peanut butter. Or, if you want to speed cleanup (and who doesn’t?), use the empty 1/2 measuring cup as a guide, but spoon peanut butter directly into mixing bowl. I hate cleaning out a measuring cup that had PB in it!

A word about spoons. I find it easier to cream butter and sugar with a large METAL spoon. (Yes, I could use my beaters, but I somehow get more satisfaction out of stirring it all by hand. It’s the pioneer girl in me.) The metal really holds up well to press down firmly on butter which hasn’t softened up enough yet. Later on in the recipe, switching to a different, long-handled spoon (plastic or melamine or wooden is fine) will give you more leverage for stirring once batter becomes stiff, with the addition of oatmeal and chocolate chips. The right tools make all the difference!

[NOTES]

The original source of my recipe: Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Rounds, Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, 11th edition, copyright 1996, Meredith Corporation.

[STEP-BY-STEP PHOTO ESSAY]

If I can ever tame my technology, I’ll publish the step-by-step photos I took while making the cookies…sigh. I need a nap.

 

Not-So-Carroty Cookies

DSCF9031 MADE WITH LOVE/9031BB

He didn’t want to eat them, and turned up his nose. Carrots in cookies? Ugh!!! But eat them he did, Thing 1 ate a bunch of my first batch of Claudine’s Carrot Cookies, and he LIKED them.

Thing 2 was off at Scout Camp Tuesday night, and Thing 1 was buzzing around and begging for cookies. So I made them, even though my back was screaming from a day of moving furniture in the bedroom and living room. Labor of love, kid, labor of love. (You had BETTER not put me in a retirement home.)

DSCF9029THE HIPPY HIPPIE/9029BB

Anyhoo, when it was time to make the icing, I realized I didn’t have an orange, and it was too late to go to the grocery store, so I dug around in the freezer and pulled out some frozen orange slices I was saving to garnish a future batch of Purple Party Punch. (Remember? It was one of my very first blog posts!)

I cut off the rinds and finely diced them to take the place of orange zest. Then I cut off the bitter, white pith and discarded it. And, lastly, I chopped up the remaining orange segments to take the place of orange juice in the glaze, and threw them in, chunks and all!

The cookies turned out great, and I loved the way you could see bits of orange in the icing, jewel-like. They were delicious, and there was no noticeable carrot favor, just orangey goodness. Yum!

DSCF9028AT THE FEET OF J AND K/9028BB

P.S. I know this is a shorter-than-normal post, but I’m in an exhausted tizzy. The boys and I will be leaving our place  tomorrow morning to taxi over to the airport for our flight to Albany, New York. I’ve been doing laundry and packing all day, even though i’d really rather be blogging…

Hope to have lots of interesting photos to share with you of my trip! Check back soon!