The Times We Find Each Other
Made some peanut butter cookie bars yesterday and they were not bad. Pulled the recipe from the front of the box where I keep “yet-to-be-tested” recipes and this one got Mr. S in from the garage before I pulled it out of the oven. I told him to come back in a few so I could frost ‘em and I had to send him out two more times before they were ready to sample.
I miss baking every day. When the kids were home, I baked at least one thing each day, often two or three, but now that it is just the two of us for most days, I have had to cut down the amount of baked goods I produce. Mr. S has been watching his sugars and carbs (I did impress upon him that peanut butter has a good amount of protein in it), and I don’t need as much food in a day as I used to.
What is interesting is how the ritual of baking always leads to conversation, and now that conversation has somewhat filled in baking time. When Mr. S and I finally sat down to coffee and fresh cookie bars, we spend nearly a good hour laughing and talking about our day. I want to say “our respective days” as we each have our own plans and things to do, but really, when you live with a person, you share the day – even if you tend toward hours in separate parts of the house or even out of the house for errands and such.
Truth be told, the times we find each other and sit down awhile and talk are my favorite parts of the day. Mostly it’s a random thing, but has become a ritual in the evening as we cook dinner. I say “we” even though I do most of the cooking. Because I want to. Because I love it. But Mr. S is always near, sometimes working on a crossword puzzle, sometimes reading news stories aloud to me as he peruses his laptop, sometimes lending a hand with chopping lettuce or pouring drinks or setting the table. He is good at seeing what blanks need filling and doing so, and all the while we carry on conversation about who we saw today, how the shelves in the garage are shaping up, how the new saplings have taken root, how the dog seems to be limping less. We speculate about neighbors and friends and the weather, and we share our feelings about this or that political thing or religious event. He tells me about the coyotes he saw in the woods; I tell him about my talk with our neighbor Lulu a few doors down. And then the food is ready – grilled chicken and corn on the cob, some baked beans and potato salad.
And we continue our conversation, some silences here and there, and when we finish, he asks whether there might be any more of those peanut butter bars left. And of course there are, and we share one, and then another, on the blessed eve of yet another summer day.
Here’s a recipe for the permanent bar section of your recipe box. Good especially for neighbor kids and grandchildren and grownups who need a bit more protein.
Peanut Butter Cookie Bars
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 ½ cups peanut butter, divided
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
½ cup milk + 2 T, divided
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
4 cups powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a large cookie sheet. Mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Whisk together ½ cup milk, vanilla extract, eggs. Set aside.
In a saucepan, melt 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter and 1 cup peanut butter, bring to a boil. Remove from heat and slowly add flour mixture, followed by milk and egg mixture. Mix well.
Pour batter onto cookie sheet, spreading evenly to edges. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
For frosting: In a saucepan, bring 1 stick butter and ½ cup peanut butter to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons milk and slowly mix in powdered sugar until well combined. Pour frosting over bars, spreading evenly to edges. Allow frosting to cool and set before serving.
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