Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Recipe With A Story

As with most great recipes, this one comes with a story. When I was a kid, I lived with my grandma. We were poor, though I didn't know it then-- it was just how we were. It wasn't often, but I do remember going in the early cool mornings to stand in line at the bull barn with my grandma to collect our welfare staples. We'd grab a box, then go down the long buffet tables collecting our family sized cans of fruit cocktail and green beans, processed cheese and tubs of creamy peanut butter.

The peanut butter came in giant white containers with black lettering that said 'Peanut Butter' - it was as generic as could be and took a family of 8 about a year to get through it all. I liked the idea of baking but my grandma didn't have cookbooks, she just cooked by taste. If we had dessert, it was usually a boxed cake mix or red jello. And the internet was non-existent, so there was no googling recipes. If I wanted to bake, I had to make due with what I had. And what I had was a tub of peanut butter with a recipe on the back.

This was one of the first recipes from scratch that I ever made, if not the first. I made a full recipe and stacked them high on a plate for my dad. He was picking me up for the weekend and I could not wait for him to try the fresh from the oven cookies. They were nutty, buttery, crispy on the edges, chewy in the center and had the identifying fork marks indented in the tops of them. They were perfect and I was so proud of myself. I beamed in anticipation of my dad trying them. When he did, he said "I don't like peanut butter" and I instantly deflated. I don't know if he ever ate them but all these years later I still remember those cookies and how good they were. I've tried other recipes and none have ever compared. It was not until I did a Google search for "welfare peanut butter cookies" (read this, it's funny!) that I found this recipe again and I'm so glad I did because it took me back to when I was a kidlet in my grandma's kitchen mixing up dough at her kitchen table.

Welfare Peanut Butter Cookies

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  • 2-1/2 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup fat (margarine, butter, or shortening)*(see note)
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs

Mix flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

Mix fat and peanut butter. Add both kinds of sugar. Mix well. Add eggs and beat well.

Stir flour mixture into peanut butter mixture.

Drop dough from a teaspoon on baking pan. Flatten with a fork.

Bake at 375 ° (moderate oven) 10 to 15 minutes until lightly browned.

Makes 4 to 5 dozen cookies.

NOTE: This recipe calls for "fat". I used half amounts of butter (for crispness) and shortening (for chew).

58 comments:

jelena said...

Monica I don't doubt any of your cookies! Peanut butter is a beauty in cookies. I've just started making cookies, always been a cake kind of a girl, because I found inspiration on your blog. Memories take us back, and the smells and tastes are the best way!

Pete said...

Nut flavour cookie, I love it!

american girl primitives said...

Great story, I was raised by my mom and we didn't have a whole lot of money but I really never thought of us as poor. I love peanut butter cookies so I will be making these for sure.

Carey

Princess of Everything (and then some) said...

I remember us going to get commodities. That butter, cheese and peanut butter always tasted so very good. The cookies look so good!!

We did not know that we were poor either!

cookies and cups said...

great story and yummy cookies! Not much is better than a yummy pb cookie that's cooled just enough to eat :)I will have to give this recipe a try.

Cassie said...

That is such a great story. I love how certain foods can just take us back, you know?

The cookies look delicious.

Smitten Sugar said...

What a great story! While I dont like peanut butter either, my boyfriend loves it! So I will definitely make these for him one day. They look similar to ones my mom made as a kid. Ill have to check and see if they are the same.

Keeley said...

Great story, Monica!

I love peanut butter, and apparently my dogs do, too! I've been sneaking them pretzels with peanut butter this week. Ha ha.

Julie said...

Love your story :) That is a funny name for a cookie...hehe. My mom used to pick up commodities for older people in our town who had a hard time getting out. I can remember our kitchen being filled with giant blocks of cheese, and that pb.

oneordinaryday said...

Love these photos. The criss-cross of the fork reminds me of my mom's pb cookies. I never make them cause they never taste as good as hers. :)

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

What a touching story. I don't think most kids realize they are poor. I was a lucky one, not rich but never poor. However, there is more to life than money and it sounds as if you had a grandma who loved you.

I won't use shortening (Crisco) in recipes. I will use vegetable oil...think that would work with the butter?

sarahe said...

such special memories! my granny was on welfare too--i called the government cheese "granny cheese" and loved it! and i almost cried when you wrote that you daddy wouldn't try your cookies! i would have been devastated!

thanks for sharing such special memories!

Julie @ Willow Bird Baking said...

What a precious story! And tasty looking cookies!

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

With a story like that,I really must try this recipe.

Maranda said...

Gorgeous photos of these cookies!! What a sweet girl you were. I'm totally mad at your dad for not eating those cookies. I don't know if I could ever say anything like that to my Little Butt. I'm glad you were able to find this recipe again. I am definitely going to have to make them!

Lissaloo said...

Your Dad missed out on a Good thing for sure! PB cookies are always a hit at my house, I can't wait to give your recipe a try :)

The Captain's Daughter said...

Thank you for sharing that story. I'm not going to think about what a (jerk) your dad was not to just eat the cookies you made but instead focus on how sweet you were to be so eager to bake/create in the kitchen at such a young age!

Your cookies are beautiful! (As always!

KaseysKrazyMommy said...

What a heart-warming story. I'm just sorry your dad wasn't more gracious.

I recall the "government cheese" as a child. I learned to make a cheese sauce that we put over cauliflower and would use tha cheese. It was better than any cheese I had ever tried! At least that is what I thought when I was learning to cook all those 30 plus years ago.

Thank you for the story. I may have to try this recipe, as I love chewy PB cookies!

Allison said...

What a touching story, and so great that you were able to come full circle to find the recipe again!

cybil said...

beautiful memory...

Keeping up with the Freitas' said...

I love recipes with a story. There is something about the criss cross on those cookies that brings back memories of my grandma too. Thanks for sharing!

Avril Miller said...

I too remember the very first recipe I made from scratch - I was 8 yrs old and made a "1 bowl chocolate cake" from the Joy of Cooking - man was I proud of myself!!! Thanks for reminding me of such a good childhood memory by telling us your 1st recipe made from scratch story. Great recipe too! Love how it makes so many.

Megan said...

Great story! These PB cookies sound yummy! I wish I could remember my first from scratch recipe...perhaps some cookies baking with my mom. :)

Ingrid said...

Aw! That story is both sweet and sad! Btw, if I ever meet your Pops I'm kickin him in the shin!

That's a lotta cookies; you sharing? :)
~ingrid

tamilyn said...

It is funny (not ha ha type) how food can connect us to memories of our youth. We too were not wealthy, especially when I was a young child. I have heard stories of my Mom not eating dinner so there was enough for my Dad and sister and how I broke the jar of peanut butter (they came in glass jars when I was a toddler). It made me sad that your Dad totally ruined your attempt at making something for him. Unless he was allergic, he should have just eaten one. Sorry-not being rude, just sad for you. I know your hubby will gladly gobble up any sweet treat you make him :)

Raina said...

Recipes with a story are the best, and yours is truly heartwarming, making these cookies extra special. I love peanut butter cookies. You really are an amazing and incredible person:)

From the Kitchen said...

What a poignant story! The cookies and glass of milk are so enticing. We all LOVE peanut butter cookies. I use the recipe from The Joy of Cooking.

Best,
Bonnie

kelly said...

so sad to deflate a kid's excitement and you still remember it. you have become quite the baker from those peanut butter cookies!

Anonymous said...

Before I read the recipe, I could almost recite the ingredients from memory. And it was ALL Crisco--no butter! But when we were in more of a "hurry," it was the PB cookie recipe on the back of the Bisquick box we made (do they still have it on there?).

jelena said...

Dear Monica. I've just posted you oatmeal cookies and still I have one left in the fridge to indulge in. http://foodforthought-jelena.blogspot.com/2010/08/sendvic-kolacici-od-ovsenih-pahuljica-i.html
Once again, thank you for the recipe!

Pam said...

My favorite cookie and yours look delicious! Sweet story and a kind of heartbreaking too!

Natasha @ Saved by the Egg Timer said...

Awww- thank you for sharing the story. I too was a peanut butter and foil wrapped, processed cheese kid. Lots of grilled cheese for dinner back then. These look delicious and moist. I will have to make them soon.

The Coupon Goddess said...

Ok, I rarely comment although I read your blog every day. This post made me cry. It really struck a chord in my heart because something similar happened to me. I bet they were the best cookies ever.

Chef Dennis said...

how could you not love those cookies...just perfect bites of peanut butter goodness!!

Debbie said...

Love your story Monica but can't understand how your dad couldn't just eat one and smile. Thanks for posting this. The story makes them so special!

A Feast for the Eyes said...

It's amazing how resilient we can be, as kids. We are unaware of what we don't have, which can be good. Monica, I lost an heirloom recipe for PB cookies and I think you just found it for me. Look where are you now, girlfriend? You have a lovely home, great husband and food bloggers who adore you... and a gift for baking and photography. I'm making these for my boys, who adore PB. I don't, very much...but that's good. It means I can resist eating too many of these. Come to think of it, I love PB cookies when they are fresh out of the oven. Muwahhhh!

Kathy said...

These bring back childhood memories for me too! Yummmm...

Janae said...

I love that you told this story. Sorry your dad said that to you, it made me sad. Glad you're enjoying your cookies, all these years later.

Souffle Bombay said...

Thanks for sharing that story - funny these days people say we praise our kids to much, I don't think so...Imagine the difference if your dad had been over the moon about your cookies :)
However, you my dear were not deterred...and became one heck of a baker!!!

Miss Tasha said...

Can I substitue chunky peanut butter for this recipe? I'm just wondering if it would hold together.

Monica H said...

Miss Tasha-

I think you could use chunky PB in these cookies though the texture wouldn't be the same. I wouldn't use the Extra Crunchy PB though. Are you wanting to use chunky because that's what you prefer? or because that's what you have on hand?

If you like a chunkier texture to your cookie, I think they'll be fine, though I wouldn't bother with the fork marks. If chunky PB is all you have and don't want to buy creamy, then just process the chunky in the food processor til creamy. I've done that before with these cookies and they turned out perfectly.

Hope these suggestions help.
Monica

OvenDelights said...

Growing up my mom would go get the government cheese,rice and this huge container of pure honey! She would use the honey to sweeten everything that called for sugar! I hated it! Once she even made arroz con leche and used only honey instead of sugar. It was awfull! And of course we had to eat it, we weren't aloud to be wastefull.
Not to long ago I came home to find some government cheese on my counter. I asked the kids where it came from. They said our neighbor brought it over. We have new neighbors and they are senior citizens. They were overstocked on cheese and thought I would like some. A week later I get another block before I had the chance to decide what to do with the first one! Two weeks after that, they came knocking on the door asking if I needed more! I politely said no, that my kids weren't really big fans of it. I made nachos one night. And never even touched the other block! Its not that I thought I was to good for it or anything, I just kept thinking about how I heard its really supposed to be bad for you. I wonder if it would of made a good macarroni and cheese?
Any how, if I weren't ashamed of going and standing in line I would. I can't tell you how much I could have used a giant jar of peanut butter this summer when my kids were on summer vacation. I made them go get the free sack lunches everyday at the neighborhood park this summer. You have no idea how much that helped out. My son complained all summer and wanted to know why he couldn't have lunch at home like he normally did all the other summers! I hate this economy right now, I wish it would get better.
Thank you for sharing your great story with us. It brought back so many memories of my own. And reminds me once again to be greatfull for the food on our tables. And to be thankfull for all the food pantry programs out their, without them alot of us would have gone hungry.
~Anabel~

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~Mo~ said...

I remember making that recipe when I was younger. They were the best cookies ever!! Thank You for sharing the recipe, I'm gonna make some!

shirley said...

I'm hoping this is THE PB cookie I have been looking for. My Great-Grandmother who was the head cook at a school on a military base in UT. I'm thinking they probably used the same thing so keeping my fingers crossed that these are the cookies from my childhood! Thanks for sharing

Anonymous said...

Gov't peanut butter was some of the best for cookies! It's really creamy and a little on the sweet side. Gov't cheese is basically Velveeta so melts well for grilled cheese if you like the taste of it.
Back in the 80's we used to have the gov't giveaways 4 times a year. I would close my law office and stand out in the parking lot in the hot sun distributing to those who came through. The cars lined up forever! I practiced poverty law (having been a poverty kid myself although, like you, unaware of how poor we were) so many of the families coming through were also clients of mine - usually we were fighting slumlords - and I knew if they had a ton of kids. I gave those huge families more than they were allotted, but they sure went through everything.
We also gave out bags of rice. I kept a fridge and shelves in one of my offices, along with a 50 gallon drum of rice, stocked with PB, bisquick type stuff, butter, cheese, and some other dried or canned goods. It was there for when folks ran out of food but had already exceeded their quota at the food bank.
Funny story - one night at around 2:00 a.m. the cops called me at home. My office had been broken into and they wanted to know what was missing. Would I please come down to see? I told them that I would go through stuff the next day. The only things missing were food items. The computer was still there. The tape deck was still there. The cash on my desk (about $50.) was still there. The beer and sodas in my fridge were still there. Nothing was gone but food.
I put the word out in the community that no one would ever be turned away by me if they wanted to access my "food pantry" and that I was thankful for them not ripping off my personal items. No more break ins, but many more requests for food assistance.
Loved your story and I found it both heartwarming (your Grandma) and heartbreaking (your father). Thank you for reminding me to bake some PB cookies!

Anonymous said...

LOVE this recipe already :). I want to be you when I grow up.
What's your suggestion for when the fork marks don't work? I think my dough was too sticky because the fork got stuck. I tried the fridge for a few minutes but didn't seem to make a difference.Tips?

Monica H said...

Anonymous- You're too kind :-)

Try dipping your fork in flour before pressing it into the cookies. Do that everytime it starts to stick and that should help. Otherwise if you don't want fork tines, don't worry about it, just flatten them slightly and bake them as is.

I hope you like them as much as I do!

~Monica

Mis-Cakes said...

these totally bring me back. When i was a kid i didn't even know there were peanutbutter cookies that WEREN'T these ones lol. These are on my to bake very soon list.

PS i've added you to the blogs i adore :)

~~Rhonda said...

Love a recipe with a great story. Thanks for sharing this one! I love PB cookies and will give these a try this weekend. ~~Rhonda

CulinarilyCourtney said...

I saw these cookies on Pinterest and their name, "Welfare Cookies," intrigued me to click through. I'm so glad I did! This was such a touching story. Thanks for sharing :)

Nettiel said...

I love your story! I'm a cookie cook with 12 grand kids! These are so yummy. I made them right away!! Thank you!!

Stephanie said...

I made these tonight and they are delicious!

The Unknown Chef said...

Just a quick note to say "Thanks!" I made these peanut butter cookies for one of my county fair entries this year and won a blue ribbon. Sharing it with you in thought.

Rée

Ife Ali said...

This is the recipe I was looking for! I lost this recipe (from the gov pb) and never found a receipt as good. I was pretty sad as it is the first thing I leaned to make on my own as a kid. My friend found this for me after I told her about my "welfare pb cookies" and how none taste as good, even store bought. She looked online for "welfare pb cookies" and found this. It's my old recipe! Thank you for posting! This recipe had to be memorable for other people think of it this way!

FFXIV Gil said...

Excellent tale, I was brought up by my mom and we didn't have a whole lot of cash but I really never believed of us as inadequate. I really like peanut butter biscuits so I will be creating these for sure.

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Anonymous said...

Try dipping your fork in sugar so it doesn't stick. Just strolling thru and saw your question and that's what all other recipes say to do.

Che Ole said...

Hello, I'm the guy who originally posted the recipe on newgrounds so many years ago. Apparently, this recipe has made a few rounds on the internet. A lot of people have stories about this recipe.

I still have that big tub of welfare peanut butter. It's black and white and has a plastic lid onto. I don't open it, it's in the garage still. I'm still grossed out about opening it, but I don't want to throw it away either.

I'm glad that you found this recipe. I liked them a lot as a kid, and it was also the first recipe that I used. Today I know how to bake pretty good, I love playing with sourdough.

Actually, I'm going back to bodybuilding and began using this recipe as my extra-caloric intake. I just use wheat flour instead of peanut butter.

But anyway, it's great to see this recipe going around a few times. It didn't just die after all...

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