When my youngest sister, Pammy, was born, the doctors at the Hayward Memorial Hospital discovered that she had a heart defect. I was fourteen years old, and I remember being told that my new sister had a hole and a leaking valve in her heart. She was born in 1957 and finally had surgery at the University Hospital in Madison when she was six. I was a student at the university and remember that time well, since I had to escort my parents around Madison while my little sister recovered from the surgery.
She grew up to be the most gregarious and cheerful one of my four sisters. With her heart repaired she graduated from high school, went to the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse and married Mike, a chemist who today works for Valspar Corporation. Together they raised a daughter and son. Her greatest regret was not being able to serve in the military because she had a heart murmur.
Three weeks before she died this winter, she emailed me a note filled with the same optimism I will always associate with my little sister. She was looking forward to a new treatment when she lost her battle with T-cell lymphoma. She was only fifty-seven years old.
As I was going through my mother’s recipe boxes, I mentioned to Jerri that Mom had several recipes for peanut butter cookies, which are not one of my favorites. Jerri recognized Pammy’s handwriting on the card, so it must have been one she copied out for our mother.
Here is the recipe. She noted that it makes six dozen cookies. Little sister, I will always love you, but I wish your recipe made only three dozen peanut butter cookies.
1 cup shortening (soft)
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup rolled oats
Preheat the oven to 350º.
Cream the shortening and sugars, then stir in the eggs and peanut butter. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt by halves into the sugar mixture, stirring well after each addition. Stir in the rolled oats.
Form the dough into three-quarter-inch balls and space them three inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Flatten the balls with the tines of a fork to make a crisscross pattern on each cookie. Dip the fork in flour occasionally if it sticks to the cookies.
Bake the cookies on a center shelf for eight to ten minutes.
NOTES: Pammy noted that these cookies are equally good with either old fashioned or quick cooking oats.
Use natural peanut butter. If the ingredient list on the label includes more than peanuts (and possibly a little salt), put the jar back and keep looking.