Creamy Peanut Butter and Cookies
The house sat on a corner with two different addresses because the doors faced two different streets and had two different porches. My entrance was the wooden stairs leading up the back, no matter how you walked on them they made some sort of noise. The stairs led past 2 of my bedrooms windows, one of which was permanently nailed shut before I ever moved in, but I still heard all the comings and goings. The beige brown tile in the kitchen was the first thing you met, but at 22 years old, living in my first house, the summer before my senior year of college, that was absolutely the last thing I cared about.
Depending on how you count I either had 2 roommates, or 5 because the house was split into two apartments. We both had leftover original constructions features, but no stairs to show for it. If we wanted to visit the other household we had to go down our wooden outdoor staircase and knock on one of their porch doors. During that year, I lived with most of my best friends from the time and although it had quirks, it was the best first group house I could have asked for.
Since before starting college I was cooking, but being on my own helped me learn to cook in new ways than I had or could under the wings of my family. I spend my free nights and weekends all through college baking bread, cookies and soups. I would share with anyone willing to help and thus started a new type of family. One drawn up merely around the love of food. I had friends from the ecohouse who worked with me in the community garden, and from all types of cultural groups who I had learned to make numerous new things with. We would meet in various kitchens throughout the school and stir up a storm of different smells and textures. We would enter the lounge and move the tables around and use a hodge podge collection of plates, cups and spoons that we each brought with us.
I learned to make borscht, and dhal, and injera. I learned about curry and spicy peppers through the memories of my friends. My palate and knowledge expanded and I learned about countries I had never heard of before, Somalia and Rwanda. They taught me about vegetables we can’t find in the states, new names rolling off my tongue. They shared how they found substituted to nearly match the flavor and textures of childhoods long past, but the stories change with each changing ingredient. I was so consumed by food at this time in my life, I wrote a 10 page paper on the performativity of “breaking bread.” As I saw it no matter what we were eating, we were breaking bread. We were forming a community and a dialogue and a memory.
The house on the corner is the first time I could say “my kitchen,” until then it has been the kitchen on Rawson First or Read Fourth or East D One. My roommates and I used that kitchen relentlessly, I surrounded myself with food lovers, after all, and both worked as line cooks in a local restaurant. Food and community was flowing through the kitchen at nearly every hour of the day and night. I loved that it was the first room you entered. We didn’t have a formal living room, only a short loveseat in the hallway. Most of our time was spent around the table in the kitchen. Yet, 8 years later, nothing has changed, the kitchen is still my most used room in the house and where I usually greet my guests when they arrive.
I moved into the house the first week of June and although Iowa is known for hot and humid summers I already knew what recipe I would cook first. I grew up a pastry chef before I could read the recipes, measuring out the flour and sugar and butter under grandma’s watchful orders. It was cookies and cakes and breads that stole my culinary heart long before I made my first soup or side. Before I even fully unpacked, I started to mix peanut butter cookies, a recipe I already knew by heart.
Peanut butter, oh peanut butter, my first true food love. When I lived in Germany I had it shipped to me because there wasn’t a product at all similar in the country. When I came home my mother gave me a book of 100 peanut butter recipes, a tome that stayed with me and was well used until I moved to Mexico and gave away most my books.
Moreover, peanut butter is equal parts pleasure as it is survival. When I first became vegetarian there wasn’t much my high school cafeteria could offer and the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich saved me on more than one occasion when I didn’t know what else to make. During college I lugged a whole jar around with me as diligently as I carried my refillable water bottle. I survived many long days in the Theatre Department, writing papers and serving on various committees through spoonful snacks with various fruits. Even hikes and long summer days working at girl scout camp were accompanied by nibbles out of those iconic jars.
Now as I stood in my first kitchen looking at it’s hodgepodge collection of utensils, all the memories of growing up, moving, living and surviving with peanut butter filled my mind as I pulled out my wooden spoon.
Nik’s Peanut Butter Cookies
200 g creamy peanut butter
100 g sugar (any of preference, even beet)
1 t vanilla
50 g chickpea flour
50 g sorghum flour
1 t baking powder
1 small pinch of salt
1-3 Tablespoons smooth applesauce
Combine everything except the applesauce in a bowl.
This cookie is especially fun for children because it is best mixed with your hands.
When all the ingredients hold together add the applesauce to bind. In the humid tropics where I live now, I add about 1 1/2 Tablespoons, but in the dry mountains I could easily add 1 T more. Add slowly, 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough holds together well, and is sticky, but doesn’t stick to your hands.
Refrigerate the dough for 15-20 minutes while you preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C)
Roll into 1 inch balls and flatten onto a cookie with with the back of a fork.
Bake for 9-12 minutes until golden brown and the middles do not look wet.
Allow to cool complete on the cookie sheet before moving.
Store in the fridge in an airtight container for 1 week.
Yield 16 cookies
(This recipe also works the same with all chickpea or even white flour)
As I aged so did my consciousness and the jarred peanut butter with its filler ingredients and palm oil no longer did the trick, I hope you try my peanut butter recipe as well as the cookies. The recipe easily scales up. Scrape down the sides every 2-3 minutes and give your processor a rest if you are making a big batch.
Nik’s Creamy Peanut Butter
200 g toasted peanuts
20 g agave syrup (or maple syrup)
pinch of salt.
Combine all ingredients in a food processor until completely smooth.