Years ago, when we used to drive halfway across the country to visit grandparents, there was much I didn't look forward to. Kids who were bored and acted up at the worst of times; sleeping accommodations for Cub Sweetheart and me that consisted of twin beds in the basement; bathroom air freshener that consisted of a box of matches in the medicine cabinet that you could strike if need be; roll call at the butt-crack of dawn; meals that involved a lot of cabbage - especial charming when you're staying in close quarters. But there was one thing I really, really, really did look forward to - my MIL's peanut butter cookies.
The recipe she used is from an old cookbook she got as a wedding gift, over 70 years ago. It involves a bit of work, i.e. sifting flour, measuring, rolling, etc. but those crispy, criss-crossed with a fork cookies are just absolutely to die for. Soon after we arrived she'd reach into her kitchen cabinet and pull out her metal cookie tin, take the lid off and I'd see them laying there, separated by layers of wax paper, just waiting for us to devour them.
Twenty years ago I used her recipe. But as I've gotten older I've grown a bit lazy. If it involves measuring too much, or taking out too many ingredients I hit a roadblock. I have the best of intentions but we all know about those, so we rarely have homemade cookies in our house.
Every house needs to have the smell of homemade cookies clinging to its walls now and then. So when I found this recipe, at www.beautyandbedlam.com, for 4 ingredient peanut butter cookies, I was hopeful. They sounded ridiculously easy and an added bonus is that they don't have any flour.
So I made them, the morning after I'd found the recipe, without ever looking it up again. They're that easy. 1 cup peanut butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 egg and 1 tsp vanilla. Mix together, scoop by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet, bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes so they don't fall apart, because if they fall apart you have to eat them right then, and you'll possibly feel a bit sick from doing so.
I will say that, depending on the size of the egg you use, they might be a bit too damp, and since we're not fussy about gluten, I threw a couple of unmeasured spoonfuls of flour in and they stuck together better. If you try to avoid flour, use a smaller egg and they'll likely behave better than mine did.
Thirty minutes after I started, I had two dozen peanut butter cookies cooling on my counter. Thirty five minutes after I started, I was eating two cookies with a glass of cold milk and calling it breakfast.
I don't know if anybody out there has much experience with chickens. I've never owned them personally, but two of our three kids have. Before our chicken sitting days I didn't realize that when a hen lays her daily egg, the second she's done, she comes out of that chicken house, and she clucks her fool head off. There's nothing shy about it - she's loud and clear hollering at the rest of the flock, 'hey, guess what I just did? I laid an egg. Go check it out!' She comes through the door from the henhouse, scratches the ground up, and struts around the rest of the ladies, exercising every bragging right she can call up.
And that's what I wanted to do, looking at those cookies cooling on my kitchen counter. They weren't my MIL's cookies, which I'll admit are better, but they were good enough. Cub Sweetheart saw them sitting there on the counter and snatched one himself, and, God bless him, instead of telling me that his mother's recipe was better, he told me they were wonderful. Possibly because it's been so long since he had a homemade cookie in our house he'd decided I forgot how to make them.
I haven't baked a homemade cookie in a good six months, and right that minute, having taken the easy road and consequently actually producing some cookies, I felt like a cookie baking rock star. Nobody could hear me, but inside there was definitely some clucking going on. Inside I was doing a bit of a shuffle around the kitchen, waving my arms back and forth, with a little 'uh-huh' chorus in the background.
If you're an unreformed perfectionist I can email you my MIL's recipe; otherwise whip these up for the kids after school, for a neighbor who needs a listening ear, or for yourself for breakfast because you can. And be sure to cluck a little after you do. Whether you do that silently or out loud is entirely up to you.