Sunday, June 17, 2012

Summer Home Ec - Cooking with Kids # 1 Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies
In the past, summer vacations were....... summer vacations. The grand children found things to do and I was left with empty days after months of home schooling.

You would think I would jump at the quiet, but no I miss them.

Our PACT charter school (our home school sponsor) has an Extravaganza event in May  that showcases the past years lessons for the school.

It offers traditional, and classical methods as well as offer extended classes at the school to help expand subject material for students; such as art, choir, music(guitar, violin, piano), dance, computers, Spanish, Latin, and Home Ec.

Home Ec?? How did I not know this after all these years. This information was an epiphany for me. Why couldn't I do a Home Ec class? It incorporates many learning experiences and ....... it's FUN!

The first step was to decide on what we wanted to bake at the initial class. We decided on Peanut Butter Cookies. A good choice to tackle.

Remembering back.... way back, to my Home Ec class, preparation was a key element.
1. Determine what you want to make.
2. Find a recipe.
3. Locate the ingredients.
4. Locate all necessary tools.
5. Remember to clean as you go.
The lessons surrounding those 5 elements have stayed with me and are implemented every time I cook.

Knowing how bored young ones get, I had the recipe, all ingredients and tools ready and laid out before the boys arrived.

Here is the recipe:
Peanut Butter Cookies

Packed with great peanut butter taste, these Betty's Best peanut butter cookies are sure to please.

Prep Time: 25 Minutes
Total Time: 2 Hrs 35 Mins

pot holders
paper towels
cooling rack
cookie sheets (I use at least 3; one to fill, one to bake, one to cool down.)
measuring spoons
measuring cups
liquid measuring cup
metal spatula (for measuring into cups, removing air pockets and leveling ingredients in cups and spoons)
rubber spatula (for scraping bowl)
metal turner (to remove cookies from cookie sheet)
Mixing bowl (I prefer glass bowls. Mine is a Pyrex I have had since the 70's. Notice the Avocado green)
2 cereal bowls (one for sugar to foll the cookie dough in and one to crack the eggs in.)
mixer and beaters

½ cup peanut butter (creamy or chunky; some children do not like the chunky, me I like them all ;0
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup butter softened (you could also use margarine)
1 egg (I use free range, my chickens lay daily can't get fresher than that :)
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (I like the unbleached)
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder (I use Trader Joe's Aluminum Free and double acting)
¼ teaspoon salt (I use sea salt)

another 1/2 c sugar in a cereal bowl to roll the cookie dough in - set this aside to be used in step #12.

                 1. Carefully measure butters (yellow and peanut) into a large bowl then beat them with mixer until creamy, 2 minutes. 
Mixing Carefully


Showing by example first they learned to push the shortening with the metal spatula to release trapped air.

While mixing I explained the importance of keeping the rubber spatula flush with the beaters to avoid inserting them

2.  Add the sugars, beat for 2 more minutes.
3.  Crack the egg into one of the cereal bowls.
(I do this in case a piece of egg shell falls off. It is easier to remove it from the egg bowl than from the dough bowl.)
FYI: if perchance a piece of egg shell does fall into the bowl, use a larger piece to retrieve it. 
Amazing how it scoops right out!

4.  Slide egg into dough bowl and mix until blended.  

notice how Mr. B shows off his egg cracking skills?
5.  Add baking soda, baking powder and salt. 
6.  Mix thoroughly.
7. Now add 1 cup of the flour, mix thoroughly.
At this point the dough is too stiff for my mixer so I hand mix the last of the flour in.
8. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate at least 3 hours.
9. Cover and refrigerate about 3 hours or until firm.
10. Pre-heat oven to 375ºF.
(For chewier cookies, bake at 300°F for 15 minutes.)

11. Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls
12. Roll each ball in sugar that is in the bowl you had sitting to the side.
13. Place cookie balls about 3 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
This seemed to be the second favourite task. The first favourite was when they were able to eat the fruits of their labors. 

14. Flatten in crisscross pattern with fork dipped into sugar.
15. Bake 9 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown.
16. Cool 5 minutes; remove from cookie sheet.
17. Cool on wire rack.
Makes 30 cookies

We doubled the batch so there would be enough to share. 
This is a slight variation to the original Betty Crocker Recipe 

Next week Individual Pizzas!
Recipe inspired by An Oregon Cottage

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