Carpe Hieme! Seize the Winter! Easy Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

From all that I’m hearing from Facebook and Twitter and, you know, good old fashioned e-mail, it’s a pretty cold winter there in the Northern Hemisphere, which to me means perfect for hot chocolate, cookies, and curling up with books. I know, I know; there’s work and school to be attended, intractable cars to get started, and so on, but six months from now, when you’re sweating and roasting, you MIGHT say to yourself “why didn’t I bake some cookies back in January when adding extra heat to the house from the oven would have been nice?”

So carpe hieme. Seize the winter! (I know, I know–easy for me to say, right? I’m in sub-Saharan Africa!) Still, even though it’s 80 plus degrees every day, to me, it’s still cookie season. And peanuts (and peanut butter) are local food here.

Seize the Winter Easy Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

Preheat the oven to 300F

Cream together:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter

Beat in:

  • 1 egg plus one egg yolk

Mix together separately:

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Blend the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until just combined–but don’t overmix. The key to cookies that are not too dry or crumbly is to have the oven preheated and everything completely read before mixing the wet and the dry, and then, not overmixing.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 300F for 15 minutes and cool on a clean counter to maximize chewiness.

Enjoy with hot chocolate. (And open the oven when you’re done to enjoy the extra heat!)

Soup Season

It’s cold!

Time for soup.

This is one of my favorite soups, not least because it’s one that my children are sure to eat. Plus, it is creamy and cheesy and full of wonderful vegetables. I was twelve or so the first time I had it, and it was served to me in beautiful pumpernickel bread bowls. I’ve never made bread bowls, but croûtes are just as good, if not better.(Simply slice a baguette on the diagonal, brush with olive oil, and put under the broiler for a few minutes on each side. Watch them carefully so they don’t burn!)

Cauliflower-Cheese Soup

~adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook~

Place the following in a pot and bring to a boil, then cover and simmer 15 minutes:

2 cups potato chunks

2 cups cauliflower, chopped

1 cup chopped carrot

3 cloves garlic

1 large yellow onion, chopped,

1.5 tsp. salt

4 cups water

Allow to cool, then blend in a blender (or with an immersion blender if you are lucky enough to own one) and return to pot.

Meanwhile, steam 1.5 more cups cauliflowerets. Drain and reserve.

Whisk in over low heat:

1.5 cups grated cheddar cheese

3/4 cup milk

1/4 tsp. dill weed

1/4 tsp. ground caraway seed

black pepper to taste

reserved cauliflowerets

You can thin it with a bit more milk if it’s too thick. You can also use leftover mashed potatoes in place of the potatoes–just whisk them in with the second group of ingredients.Delicious!