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.


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 egg
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

oven: 350˚

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.


  1. Yum! Nothing like a good peanut butter cookie! Just so folks know, too, I have made peanut butter cookies without the flour and milk. Same recipe, just no flour or dairy — an egg, a cup of nut butter, vanilla, a cup of sugar, mix and then bake, same as the instructions here. They come out as soft cookies, but harden some into good dunkers about 10 mn after coming out of the oven. A little note from a gluten-free, dairy-free baker. Bucket list, huh? I like yours, especially the basil one, lol. Why is basil so hard to keep alive? I’d like to know, too. When I was a high school teacher, I also had students compose an essay about the top three things on their bucket list. It was good for them to think about and plan for their future, to realize what their hopes and dreams were. As for me — I really do think I have accomplished many of the things I would have wanted to do when I was younger. What’s left on the list? Well, I would like to be in a position where I could provide better for myself, my family and friends, and bring to them some of the things that were brought to me by others, too. I’d like to have more to share, is I guess what I’m saying. Thank you for sharing delicious recipes here! I can see it is one of your ways to “pay it forward.”

    Comment by Karin (an alien parisienne) — October 25, 2010 @ 12:29 am

  2. So glad I woke up and read this first thing. A smile to start the day, a new recipe to look forward to & my own list to ponder. Have a great week!

    Comment by Married2food — October 25, 2010 @ 7:11 am

  3. 1. Learn to use Excel
    2. Get (and use) a carrel for writing at nearby school library
    3. Invest in monthly massages
    4. Learn to play the violin
    5. Attend a Mary Oliver poetry reading
    6. Raise children who are kind and curious

    Mostly, you probably could have predicted this list, but I’m okay with that. Sometimes stating the obvious is important.

    Comment by Katherine — October 25, 2010 @ 8:16 am

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nishta Mehra, Sharon Stinson. Sharon Stinson said: Time to make a bucket list. RT @BlueJeanGourmet peanut/almond butter cookie!: …so many good things in one blog post […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention PEANUT BUTTER/ALMOND BUTTER COOKIES « Blue Jean Gourmet -- — October 25, 2010 @ 9:20 am

  5. 1) I love the idea of combining peanut butter and almond butter, but it is frightening to think of a time when I have less than a cup of peanut butter on hand. I get dangerously low on staples, but I gotta have the PB!

    2) I’m going to adapt the “Bucket List” idea to a “Get My Butt Off the Couch while Unemployed List.” Item one – get butt off couch. Item two – don’t move to bed instead. Item three – go to kitchen and make one of Nishta’s recipes.

    Comment by Mnelle — October 25, 2010 @ 12:15 pm

  6. I must make these cookies very soon…
    But for now I posted a piece of my bucket list.

    1) Have theater as a part of me for the rest of my life.
    2) Get married, and have a happy family.
    3) Be cured of diabetes.
    4) Apologize for all the mistakes I have made in my life.
    5) Write and publish a book.
    6) Be Happy

    Comment by Matt S — November 2, 2010 @ 12:22 pm

  7. I’m not the world’s biggest fan of peanutbutter cookies, despite using peanutbutter in about every other application possible up to and including pancakes. But I wonder if the additional fattiness of the almond butter might make them softer and more in my realm of cookie love.

    1. Order dinner once in my life without worrying about price, complete with wine if I want it, and dessert, which I always want.
    2. Host Thanksgiving dinner in my own home, everything made by my own hands.
    3. Learn to walk in high heels confidently.
    4. Run a sub-23-minute 5k.
    5. Complete the photo project I’ve been marinating on for 4 years.
    6. Go back to Scotland with Jesse, and stay for an indeterminate, open-ended amount of time.

    Comment by Joh — November 12, 2010 @ 5:26 pm

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