1980 … the first time I saw my own name printed next to a recipe in a cookbook. I was 13.
I was. After all, my recipe was sharing pages with the recipes of a fine group of cooks and bakers: the women of St. John’s Lutheran Church. 1980 was the year of the church’s 100th anniversary and this cookbook was compiled to honor the celebration.
Take a minute to remember that in 1980, no one was using or had a computer. The recipes were submitted hand-written. The ladies on the cookbook committee typed each recipe and the typed recipes were submitted to a company for printing and binding. Oh how spoiled we are: everything at our fingertips, just a google search away; spell-check that eliminated the need for Wite-Out correction tape (what?); and formatting without counting spaces. Am I dating myself? Yes. But we so easily forget …
As you can see, I love this book. It is tattered, folded, stained and faded. This cookbook quickly became very popular. If at a church potluck someone would ask for a recipe, you would most often hear “it’s in the cookbook”. Even though there have been at least four cookbooks printed by this congregation, it is generally assumed “the cookbook” refers to this edition.
In fact, a box of these cookbooks was recently discovered in a storage area of the church. Gold had been struck in Hanover, Iowa! They went on sale to members of the church. It was a short sale. I sure hope they find another box … mine might completely fall apart by then.
I have five recipes in this book. My favorite of those is Peanut Butter Brownies. I remember making these brownies for my family when my mom needed a quick dessert. I made them when I was in college because they could be made in one pan (less dishes to do). I made them for my boys and their friends when they were little … and not so little. Church functions, lemonade stands, tailgates, picnics (of course), care packages, and bake sales have benefitted from this recipe. You will too!
Peanut Butter Brownies
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted but not hot
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup (or more) chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°.
Whisk together butter, sugar and peanut butter in a large bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each until smooth.
Gently fold in flour, baking powder, and salt until well combined.
Stir in vanilla and chocolate chips.
Pour batter into greased 9″x13″ pan.
Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325° and continue cooking for 15 minutes or until edges are brown and center is just set. Allow to cool on wire rack before cutting into bars.
One Pan Method: Put the butter/margarine in 9″x13″ pan and place pan in oven before preheating.Preheat oven. Remove pan from oven as soon as butter/margarine is melted. If butter/margarine is bubbly/hot, allow to cool a few minutes before adding other ingredients. Carefully add peanut butter to pan (pan is hot), stirring to combine. Add sugar and stir. Continue adding ingredients as directed above, scraping the sides of the pan to combine evenly. Return pan to oven when oven is fully preheated and bake as directed.
This is a great recipe to get kids involved in the kitchen. All it takes is a little measuring, a little stirring, a few extra chocolate chips to replace those that mysteriously disappear, and a helping hand with the oven. Everything tastes better when you make it yourself. It tastes even better when your name is printed next to the recipe “in the cookbook”.
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