My parents are visiting right now, and I was making pizza crust last night (see why they come to visit? the FUN!) when I noticed that the dough seemed to be rising more sluggishly than usual. So I put my hand on the stove, to see if maybe I needed to turn the oven up a bit--and the stove was cold! My oven was broken! Had I lost my whole stove?
Naturally, as I am the cheapest person in the world when it comes to anything except books, I checked the burners (worked fine) and then the broiler element (worked fine too). Which meant my oven element had burnt out. So my parents, because they are lovely people (even if they did point out that I could, you know, go ahead and buy a new stove since the one we have was in the house before my husband I bought it six billion years ago), drove me to a local hardware store*, where I got a new element. Cost: $25. Way cheaper than a new stove!
The only downside to putting in an oven element is that getting an old oven element out is dirty work--unless the inside of your oven is spotless, and mine isn't--and you have to be patient enough to fiddle with the screws that hold it in place and then slip the wires in, which is a little tricky. Oh, and remember to turn off the power to the oven as well! That one's really important.
Anyway, that was going to be my project for this morning, but when I got up, my father had already gone ahead and fixed it for me! I have the best parents in the world. So now I am going to bake my dad some of his favorite cookies as a thank you.
My father's favorite peanut butter cookies:
1 stick butter (I use non-dairy margarine because my father and I are both allergic to milk)
8 tablespoons peanut butter (about half an average jar)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup cake flour (you can find cake flour (I recommend Swans Down) in most grocery stores--it makes a softer cookie, but if you can't find cake flour, you can use regular flour, though *don't* use self-rising)
Set the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in the microwave (use a pretty big microwave-safe bowl, and this is a one bowl recipe), then add in the peanut butter and stir (you can just use a spoon, you don't need a mixer or anything) till the peanut butter has mostly mixed in. Then add the sugar and mix again. The peanut butter will be totally incorporated by now. Then add your egg, salt, baking powder, and vanilla. Mix again, and then add in your cup of flour. The dough will be soft-ish, so I usually stick it in the fridge while I set up the cookie sheets.
Line the cookie sheets with parchment paper, or foil that's been greased with the butter wrapper. Get the dough out of the fridge, and use a teaspoon (or amelon baller) to drop the dough onto the sheets. You can usually get one and a half cookie sheets with this method, or about 30 cookies.
Once the cookies are on the sheets, take a fork and press the dough flat--I usually do it lengthwise and widthwise, but some people just indent with a spoon.
Stick them in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes. It'll depend on how hot your oven actually is, but I've never had them take more than 10 minutes per cookie sheet.
Cool. Then eat.
*Local hardware stores are rapidly disappearing, swallowed up by the big box stores, and that's a shame because smaller hardware stores almost always carry things like oven elements, and the bigger stores don't usually carry parts. They'd just rather sell you a whole stove. So, as with bookstores, if you have a local independent hardware store, shop there!