Taste can be a strong memory trigger. Even in our adult years, we find ourselves comparing drinks to medicine our mothers made us take as toddlers or reaching for “comfort foods” that remind us of home when we are feeling down. Many people remember meals from special occasions, like a first date, engagement, or wedding. When one woman I knew passed away in her eighties with a freezer full of her famous secret-recipe cookies, her children divided the cookies up evenly and savored a memory with each bite until they were gone.
Two years ago today, mortality tapped me on the shoulder. A friend a few years younger than me passed away suddenly. Like I had done years before her, Sara had left her family in North America to move to Israel. Though she missed them terribly, she was starting her own life in the Jewish homeland. At the time of her death, she was engaged to marry an Israeli man. Even though she had a day job and MA studies keeping her busy, Sara was my kids’ (and my) favorite babysitter. Living with roommates just a few blocks away, she was also our most frequent non-family Shabbat guest. I enjoyed listening to her book recommendations and English-teaching adventures, and my children fought over who would sit next to her at each meal. It’s not easy to live alone, far from family. In Sara’s memory, please take a moment to think if you know someone lonely–a bachelor, a widow, a student, an elderly person, or anyone else who could really use some company–and consider adding them to your guest list for the upcoming holidays. The holiday season is an especially difficult time to be alone.
On one visit, Sara brought flour-less peanut butter cookies and introduced me to the concept. I didn’t get her recipe, but I played around with the basic ingredients until I got something I liked. These sweet treats have a chewy center and crispy edges, and they are super easy and gluten-free. Whenever I eat these, I think of my friend.
3 Ingredient Flour-less Peanut Butter Cookies
Yield: About 30 cookies
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder (optional)
- Thoroughly mix peanut butter and sugar, by hand or with a mixer.
- Add eggs and mix thoroughly.
- The vanilla and cocoa add a richer, deeper flavor to the cookies, but they are completely optional. If using them, add at this point.
- Drop spoonfuls evenly spaced onto a cookie sheet lined with baking paper.
- Bake at 180C/350F for about 8-10 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies. Do not over-bake. Cool completely before taking off the pan.