The Good, The Bad and The Jelly

A friend sent me an e-mail tonight, telling me how she was reading along as a woman typed out an e-mail on her blackberry. Of all the lines in that e-mail, the following lines stood out to my friend: “my love life not so lucky. I haven’t found the man of my dreams yet. I’m not sure if i ever will. while i wait, i’m having fun.”   I’ve found the man of my dreams many times over, but the problem has always been that he’s already found the woman of his dreams (and she wasn’t me).  And it still stands true today.  But I’m not quite ready to say “I’m not sure I ever will.”

As for having fun, I don’t know how that woman has hers, but one way I’m having mine is exploring this baking and cooking thing.  And on a grander scale, I guess I’m seeing myself evolve into something new.  I also started mentoring a 4th grader this week through a program run by P’s boss.  I was filled with a slight sense of apprehension — Is this kid going to be taller than me?  Is he going to talk?  Is he going to be a smartass?  But when I met him, he was a funny little kid and the unease that I’ve always said I had with kids went away.  Or maybe I’m just finding it easier to be around kids.  As I thought about how suddenly I’m so interested in things domestic, and this sudden change in the way I act around kids, I wondered if most women closer to their 30’s end up going through this process of domestication.  And if it’s not a common phenomenon, then I wonder if this is all preparing me for the future.  What this future is, I can only guess.  Or maybe the things happening around me are serving to help me figure out what it is I really want.  But since I already know, maybe it’s all for the purpose of solidifying my commitment to what I want.  I don’t know.  But I do know they don’t make fourth graders like they used to — or maybe I’m just looking at a fourth grader through a grown-up’s eyes.  I don’t remember being so little and so young.  Or rather, seeing myself or my classmates as little and young when I was in the fourth grade.  If this is how grown-ups looked at me when I was that age, well this was a real eye-opener.

Which brings me to tonight’s project.  The peanut butter and jelly sandwich — a long-standing childhood favorite, commonly found in school cafeterias in lunchboxes all over the country, it is a timeless classic.  P suggested last week that I do a peanut butter and jelly cookie, and so this week, I did.  Long story short, P had a good idea, but the execution was not quite perfect, and so…

Stuffing the dough: before closing up the halves and rolling into a ball. 
 Not wanting to use the peanut butter and chocolate chip cookie dough that I always use, I went in search of a chewy peanut butter cookie and found the recipe I ended up using on another blog.  I stuffed the dough with strawberry preserves, using the method I found on how to stuff a cookie.  

Stuffed cookie dough balls.
 The method was not the problem, but the dough.  Some doughs, like this one, are not meant to be stuffed.  Or, if you do, you need to bear in mind that too much filling = filling oozing out.  

The way the cookie crumbles.  A sad sight indeed.

The cookies were too delicate after they expanded in the heat of the oven, and the strawberry preserves made the already soft dough even softer in the middle.  It was very difficult moving these from the cookie sheet to the cooling rack, and there were more casualties than survivors…But they tasted amazing.  Just like a peanut butter and jelly cookie should.  I haven’t given up on making this kind of cookie.  Some consultation with my mentor — I call her Mom — should provide me with some insight as to where it went wrong.  I think I should have used the dough for the peanut butter chocolate chip cookies (which had less peanut butter), or changed this recipe to have less peanut butter and more flour.

But on the bright side…

When I was making the dough, I made one plain batch (for stuffing) and one batch with peanut butter chips (in case the peanut butter and jelly cookie experiment failed). From the batch with peanut butter chips, I made the cookie as directed in the recipe.  And the cookies this time were aesthetically pleasing, and even more importantly, chewy and good, with a burst of peanut butter with every peanut butter chip you bite into.

What’s with the criss-cross patterns on peanut butter cookies anyway?  All peanut butter cookies traditionally have them.  And a little bit of googling brings up the answer(s).

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