Get a head start on your seasonal gift-giving with the cookbooks food lovers want Santa to leave under the tree.
Tinsel, Tumbleweeds, and Star-Spangled Celebrations: Holidays on the Western Frontier From New Year’s to Christmas (TwoDot, 2017)
Feast on Old West holidays of yore, a round of the Christmas Tree Guessing Game — I Spy for the bedazzled evergreen with a rhyming requirement — included. (Purchase the book.)
Game: The Chef’s Field to Table Cookbook (Welcome Books, 2018)
From the editors of Covey Rise magazine
Never has the sporting outdoorsman’s idea of field-to-fork eating been so delectable; never has the idea of cleaning game birds for pheasant leg stew or fish for fresh trout with horseradish and lemon zest been so compelling. (Purchase the book.)
Peppers of the Americas: The Remarkable Capsicums That Forever Changed Flavor (Lorena Jones Books, 2017)
Maricel E. Presilla
There’s more to jalapeño — and Hatch chiles and ghost peppers — than meets the eye in this beautiful, expansive cookbook from the author who put together a White House meal in less than two weeks. (Purchase the book.)
The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays: 140 Step-by-Step Recipes for Simple, Scrumptious Celebrations (William Morrow, 2013)
The Pioneer Woman has put together this collection of recipes for New Year’s Day, the Super Bowl, Mother’s Day, and many other special occasions. But, really, is there a wrong holiday for marshmallow pops? No. No, there is not. Recipes from the cookbook can be found here. (Purchase the book.)
American Cookie: The Snaps, Drops, Jumbles, Tea Cakes, Bars & Brownies That We Have Loved for Generations (Rodale Books, 2018)
This cookbook lays out our nation’s history one cookie crumb at a time. A nibble: Did you know the same man who wrote the Declaration of Independence and sent Lewis and Clark on the country-shaping expedition also recorded a recipe for ladyfingers with a bouquet of oranges? We have a recipe for an old favorite below. (Purchase the book.)
School Lunch Peanut Butter Cookies
Making something as simply delicious as the peanut butter cookie didn’t happen overnight. While peanut butter was invented in the 1890s, and George Washington Carver spent the 1920s extolling the benefits of both peanuts and peanut butter, it took hard times — the war years and the Depression — for peanut butter to gain the spotlight as a source of protein and B vitamins. What was childhood without a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? And what was school lunch without peanut butter cookies?
As farmers faced financial ruin due to price collapses on their commodities in the 1930s, as parents were out of work and their children hungry, the U.S. government stepped in to help through the federally supported lunch program. Not only did the government purchase surplus crops from farmers and feed children a hot meal, but they also employed thousands of women to cook in the lunchrooms.
And to bake recipes such as peanut butter cookies. These cookies were perfect for the lunch program because they used lower-cost vegetable shortening instead of butter. They could be baked in bulk. And they could be stored at room temperature. They became a staple at public school lunchrooms as well as private. When the Chicago Tribune profiled the cafeteria manager of the Catholic Marquette Park School in 1961, they found a favorite peanut butter cookie recipe being baked for 1,300 girls by Sister Mary Trinita. Here is that 1961 recipe. And while today peanut allergies prevent many cafeterias from baking peanut butter cookies, you can bake a taste of the past with this recipe.
(Makes about 4 dozen 2” cookies)
½ cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup vegetable shortening
½ cup light or dark brown sugar, lightly packed (see baking tip)
½ cup granulated sugar, plus about 2 tablespoons for pressing into the top of cookies
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1½ cups sifted allpurpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Set aside 2 ungreased baking sheets.
Place the peanut butter, shortening, brown sugar, and ½ cup of the granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the vanilla and egg, and beat on medium-low until the mixture is smooth, about 45 seconds. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Whisk together the sifted flour, soda, and salt in a medium-size bowl and turn this into the peanut butter mixture. Beat with the mixer on low speed until the dry ingredients are just incorporated, 45 seconds – 1 minute.
Drop the dough in 1” pieces spaced about 3” apart on the pans. Press the top of each ball twice with a fork dipped in the remaining granulated sugar, creating a crosshatch pattern. Place one pan at a time in the oven.
Bake the cookies until lightly browned, 10 – 12 minutes. Let the cookies rest on the pan for 1 minute, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool.
(Baking tip: Use whatever brown sugar you have on hand. Dark brown sugar creates a dark and flavorful cookie. But most people prefer light.)
Recipe reprinted and adapted from American Cookie: The Snaps, Drops, Jumbles, Tea Cakes, Bars & Brownies That We Have Loved for Generations. © 2018 by Anne Byrn. Photographs © 2018 by Tina Rupp. Published by Rodale Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.
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From the November/December 2018 issue.