October 24, 2010
I know it’s kind of cheesy, but I love the idea of a Bucket List.
Much as the name makes me cringe (is it just me, or does it sound a little crass?) the idea of composing one has lingered with me for the last few months. I started writing one this summer, at a lunchtime table with a glass of wine in New York, inspired I know by the wonder of that trip and the feeling of aliveness that comes when we exist in our own skin, somewhere else, for a while.
I tucked the six-or-seven-line list into a letter I was mailing to a friend, who responded with a list of his own in kind; few better ways to get to the substance of a person than that. And really, few better ways to get to the substance of myself. What is it that I care about? Do I really want to do that, or am I just saying it because it sounds good? The act of writing these things down builds something, generates an energy, creates a realness and substance:
* See my mom hold her grandchild
* Take Jill to India
* Write a really great play
* Attend an opera at the MET
* Bake a wedding cake for one of my friends
* Keep a basil plant alive
See, not everything on one’s Life To-Do list has to be deadly significant. I think the joy comes in imagining the experiences, no matter how small, that would bring one satisfaction and pleasure. The one item I’ve crossed off, “Make pasta from scratch”, required just a day’s worth of planning and was a great deal of fun, though I’d like to now amend that item to read “Make really good pasta from scratch.”
Last week, I asked my students to start their own lists. And I’d love to hear what you fine people would put on yours.
PEANUT BUTTER/ALMOND BUTTER COOKIES
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Necessity, as they say, is the parent of invention, and so when I found myself one day without enough peanut butter to complete a peanut butter cookie recipe, I fudged with almond butter. The results were delicious, and so–viola!
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup almond butter
½ cup brown sugar
¾ cup white sugar, plus a little extra for rolling
1 T milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ¼ cup flour
¾ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
optional but delicious add-ins: 1 cup chocolate chunks or chips
½ cup chopped, roasted peanuts
Combine the butters in the bowl of a stand mixer, blending well before adding both sugars. When the mixture is smooth, crack in the egg and blend again. Stir in the milk and vanilla.
Whisk the dry ingredients together, then add to the wet. Stir in chocolate and/or peanuts.
Form the dough into half-inch balls, then roll in white sugar before baking on well-greased or parchment-covered baking sheets, 10-12 minutes. Do not over bake! I promise they’re done.