Just as the petite, raven-haired Scarlet O’Hara raised a clenched fist to the Heavens and swore she’d never go hungry again, so, too, have I fervently declared a promise to the blue skies up above.
Only my declaration of independence wasn’t about food or a lack thereof. It wasn’t about the skyrocketing price of just about everything these days, nor was it about neighborhood cats that use my front yard flower box as their toilet. Although, don’t get me started on that one.
No, my recent double-fisted call to arms had to do with . . . trash bags. Specifically, the kitchen variety trash bag.
“As God is my witness, I will never buy cheap kitchen garbage bags again,” I think is how I put it today, out loud and to no one in particular, as I attempted to change the trash bag in the kitchen. Borrowing a line from the film, Gone With The Wind, where Scarlet rose from the ashes of devastation as only she could, I made a pledge that no matter how bad my financial picture gets I will find a way to buy decent kitchen garbage bags.
I have had it with wrestling inferior, thin plastic bags into some tiny speck of submission as I work my way into a frenzy — and possibly an aneurism — trying in vain to tie the ends into a knot in an effort to secure my spoils.
Oh, sure, I could try not cramming so much garbage into one bag, but then I’d just dredge up that old wasting money debate. (I’m sure dear old Dad rolls over in his grave every time I pluck another paper towel off the roll or pop another plastic trash bag under the sink.) Why should I have to use three bags instead of one, simply because the bags are inferior? My mind began to wander . . . how would the cost factor differ between the cheap bags and the sturdier, more costly bags? If I buy cheap bags, but use three of them to every one of the more expensive bags, isn’t it better to just buy the higher priced ones to begin with? Ugh. That sounds like one of those math problems that requires a lot more thinking than I’m willing to invest right now. Frankly, my dears, I don’t give a damn.
Several moments of sheer frustration could be read like a road map on my furrowed brow as I muttered to myself, “Why does it have to take me 10 minutes to bundle up the damn bag and take out the trash!?” There go 10 minutes I’ll never see again. I vowed right then and there to find some way to justify spending the big bucks on the better trash bag — if only to save myself precious moments in life.
Let’s face it. In our lives, no matter how much money we have, there are things we’ll skimp on and things we’ll refuse to skimp on. For instance, when it comes to printer paper and garden fertilizer, I’m OK with the bargain brand. But things like fresh fruit, chocolate, toilet paper — and, now, kitchen garbage bags — are off limits to any bargain hunting. I simply must have the freshest, best, most reliable or I’m not going to be happy.
It felt good to make that hard and fast decision today. If nothing else, I have conquered that tiny part of my frazzled life. Not wasting any more time with that one, I thought, as I clapped my hands together as if brushing off the dust of decaying lousy plastic bags of my past that in their day had me near tears.
What helped me shake off the bad mood implanted by the uncooperative kitchen bags was the fact that today is National Peanut Butter Cookie Day. Yep. I shared all of the above just to get to cookies.
Now, when it comes to my large stash of recipes, I’d say my peanut butter/chocolate chip
cookies are the most requested by family and friends — especially my niece. In fact, if I had a dollar for every batch of peanut butter/chocolate chip cookies I’ve made over the years, I could make my mortgage payment this month — along with the late fees that have been piling up like warm, fragrant cookies on a party platter. Suffice it to say, these are good. Real good.
Because that’s another thing I’ll never skimp on — ingredients for the cookies that my soon-to-be-college-bound niece loves so much. I buy the best peanut butter, the best chocolate chips, and I make sure the eggs are extra large and very fresh.
Life is too short to waste time wrestling with something that’s on its way to the county landfill. That’s time better spent in the kitchen whipping up something delicious for someone who will soon be several hundred miles away. And life is definitely too short to not enjoy a cookie now and again — especially with someone you love. Do it while you can.
PEANUT BUTTER/CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES (to die for)
This is my version of a Betty Crocker recipe I read years ago. I’ve taken liberties here and there, such as doubling the original recipe, because, who are we kidding? These are good cookies, you’re going to want a lot of them on hand. I’ve also played with the amount of flour because I like a thicker, more cake-like cookie here, and, though I’ve used milk chocolate chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and even mini M&Ms, my favorite is Ghirardelli’s bittersweet chocolate chips. The flavor combination of the dark chips and the sweet peanut butter is . . . well, to die for. This recipe makes about 40 cookies, depending on the size.
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons peanut butter (I use only creamy Jif, because I think it has the best flavor)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup packed, dark brown sugar (I think dark brown sugar has a deeper flavor)
- 2 extra large eggs (they don’t need to be room temperature, as is usual for baking ingredients, because you’ll need to chill this dough before baking the cookies)
- 2 & 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- One 11 or 12 oz. package dark, bittersweet chocolate chips
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and mix well with a whisk.
In a separate, large bowl, combine the butter and oil; add the peanut butter and mix well. Add the sugars and blend until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, and stir vigorously, fully blending the eggs into the mixture.
In small batches, fold the flour mixture into the peanut butter mixture and blend. Add the chocolate chips, and evenly distribute within the cookie batter. Cover and refrigerate for at least three hours to enhance the flavors.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. (Now is when you’ll want to put a big glass of milk in the freezer!) Using a small ice cream scoop or large tablespoon, drop rounds of batter onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for approximately 9 to 13 minutes (depending on your oven and the size of the cookies), or until edges are light golden brown. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes before removing from the cookie sheet to cool completely — or to pop one in your mouth!