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Peanut butter cookies with Pappaw


George McNeely thumbs through a dictionary after examining a basket of several dozen peanut butter cookies. The cookies are a family recipe that was originally created by his mother. Holly Hays and Holly Hays Buy Photos

To me, there’s nothing quite like the scent of freshly baked peanut butter cookies.

That’s because I’ve made peanut butter cookies so many times I’ve lost the ability to smell or taste them.

It all started when my mom found a yellowed, grease-splotched recipe card in a small metal box in our kitchen. It had belonged to her grandmother, Thelma, and contained countless recipes from years gone by.

But none is more coveted or beloved than her peanut butter cookie recipe. We made a batch and took it to the farm where my mother and her siblings grew up to share with Pappaw. He immediately asked for more — they were, after all, just like his mom had made them — and that’s how the tradition began.

Nearly every Friday night through high school and into college, I would venture the few minutes down the road to watch Jeopardy! and bake peanut butter cookies with my grandfather, my best friend, my Pappaw.

He would eat them as quickly as I could crank them out. I could bake five or six dozen in a night without batting an eye.

Before he passed away in March 2014, I baked him a box of cookies and sat with him in the nursing home. I have as many memories from the time I spent with him as I have baked cookies in the last six or so years — and that’s a lot. Consequently, no peanut butter cookie will ever taste the same to me, nor will a memory be sweeter.

The recipe itself isn’t anything special, but it means the world to me.

My Grandma Mac, in her infinite wisdom, does not list a specific temperature at which to bake the cookies, nor does she include how long the cookies should actually be in the oven.

“Sift all ingredients together,” she scrawled in flawless cursive. “Combine all ingredients. Pinch off — flatten and bake in hot oven.”

Peanut Butter Cookies

¾ cup white sugar

¾ cup light brown sugar

1 ½ cup sifted flour

¾ tablespoon baking soda

3 ½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

7 ½ tablespoon melted butter

7 tablespoon peanut butter

Two eggs, beaten

¾ tablespoon vanilla (I use a whole tablespoon)

Directions: Combine all ingredients. Lightly grease a cookie sheet (only for the first use). Roll out small balls of dough, arranging them about 1 ½ inches apart on the cookie sheet. Flatten using a fork to achieve the neat peanut butter cookie look. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 12 minutes.

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