Thursday, 16 November 2017

Where are the poets hanging out this week? With the Rain City Librarian! You’ll find links to original poetry, book reviews, and more here.

It’s almost Thanksgiving, Poetry Friday fans. That means baking season is upon us. At our house, Mr. S is the cook. Baking – that’s my job.

I’m not usually adventurous when it comes to baking. However, when chili-infused dark chocolate bars hit the market, so did some kitchen inspiration. I came up with a spicy version of traditional peanut butter cookies. After a few test batches, I had a winner — a cookie that my family loves. Mr. S, who is a fan of all things spicy, says these cookies are addictive. (Recipe below.)

This year, I got brave and entered my cookies in the Baltimore Sun’s annual holiday cookie contest. They made the first cut, but were not selected to appear in the paper. However, I’m not crying into my cookie dough. It was  fun to take a chance on something that was creative, but not writing-related.

Since it’s Poetry Friday, I went searching for a poem to pair with the recipe and came across Edwin Romond’s wonderful “Peanut Butter Cookies” at Your Daily Poem. And since I’m reading Nikki Grimes book of Golden Shovel poems, ONE LAST WORD: WISDOM FROM THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE, I thought I’d attempt a Peanut Butter Cookie Golden Shovel poem. I also made this poem an acrostic. You’ll find both Edwin Romond’s poem and my Golden Shovel after the recipe.

Laura’s Spicy Peanut Butter Cookies
AKA PB and Bay Cookies

My version is regional, using two beloved Baltimore ingredients. I’ll include a standard option for those of you out of state who want to give these treats a try.



½ cup butter

½ cup chunky peanut butter (I use Smart Balance)

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 egg

1 cup crushed Utz potato chips, divided use (place between 2 paper towels, crush with rolling pin)

Standard option: Use potato chips of your choice

1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning, or to taste

Standard option: Chili powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon


¼ cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons crushed potato chips

1/2 – 1 teaspoon Old Bay or chili powder


Pre-heat oven to 375. Grease 2-3 cookie sheets.

  1. Cream the butter and peanut butter.
  2. Cream in brown sugar, then beat in egg.
  3. Sift the flour and salt. Stir in with 2/3 cup of the crushed potato chips.

Dough will be stiff.

  1. Roll into balls. (I use a heaping tablespoon.)
  2. Roll the balls in the coating.
  3. Place about an inch apart on the cookie sheet. Press down on the top of each cookie with a fork, making a criss-cross design.
  4. Bake 9-12 minutes. Makes about 3 dozen cookies. Delicious eaten warm!

Let’s wash down those cookies with some poetry.

Peanut Butter Cookies

By Edwin Romond

My mother made them from memory
giving me my own memory of winter
in our kitchen, the salty aroma
of peanut butter cookies from the oven,
and the torture of waiting for them to cool
on the window sill overlooking Albert St.
in the Eisenhower 50s of my childhood.
I remember her mixing brown sugar,
butter, and spoons of Skippy. She never
checked a cookbook and they tasted
like no other cookies tasted. “I just know,”
she’d say if I asked her how she did this
then she’d wrap them in foil and sing
along with Perry Como on our radio.
They were as special as she was, a quiet
woman who took small joys in life
around the house. I know she knew
how much those cookies meant to me
for years later she apologized, as if
it were her fault, when a stroke at 80
erased the recipe from her mind.

Read the rest of the poem here. Have a tissue ready.

Golden Shovel: Cookie Acrostic

By Laura Shovan

Come to me, my
Oven-baked delight, mother
Of all comfort treats, home-made
Kick of sugar. My teeth — feel them
Inch along your edges, savoring bites from
Every crumble, until you’re a delicious memory.

These cookies, from All Recipes, resemble PB and Bays.

15 responses to “Poetry Friday: Peanut Butter Cookies”

  1. Diane Mayr says:

    The spice was a surprise, but not as much as the potato chips! Who woulda thunk it?

    Your golden shovel is wonderful–to read and visually. “Inch along your edges” is my favorite line because it is something I do with a lovely crispy crunchy cookie!

    • Laura Shovan says:

      I read somewhere that you can replace some of the flour (and salt!) with potato chips. It works well and adds some chewiness to the cookie. Glad you like the poem, Diane. It was fun to play with a double-form.

  2. Linda Baie says:

    “until you’re a delicious memory” holds all your words together today, Laura. There is more than one memory lost when someone leaves us, but I cherish what I have, too. We are not peanut butter cookie lovers, sad to say, but your recipe with a bit of a kick might change minds. Congrats on entering that contest, too! And enjoy your Thanksgiving!

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Let me know if you try the cookies, Linda. I agree — recipes are often wrapped up in our memories of grandparents, parents, extended family members who had a special dish they were known for.

  3. jama says:

    Can you tell I’m swooning? What a post!! Loved your acrostic and Romond’s poem (the last line is a killer). Interesting cookie recipe— never thought of spicy PB cookies before (kudos to you for entering the contest!). Love the idea of rolling them in potato chips. Yum — sounds like a sweet, salty, spicy delight.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Hi, Jama. I thought you might like this post! My husband has a very special relationship with sriracha and other hot spices, so these cookies are a big hit at our house.

  4. Tara says:

    This cookie recipe had some surprising ingredients, Laura, and I now have a yen to make them. That poem was a teary one for me…yes, we say our goodbyes in stages when our parents age, and I am certainly there.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Thanks, Tara. I hope you do try them — the recipe is very easy. There are definitely foods that I associate with people who are no longer with us, not only the food itself, but the care the person took to make them, and the time shared as we enjoyed the dish together.

  5. Thanks for this delicious and fun post Laura, I’m wanting one of those cookies now, can you kindly pass one through the cyberspace window, yum!

    I loved both of these poems your shared. I can’t pick out just one line that I like from your poem because they all work so well together, and it’s an acrostic and golden shovel to boot! And what a lovely and special yarn Edwin Romond weaves in his “Peanut Butter Cookies.”

    Congrats on placing in the cookie contest too!

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Thanks, Michelle. I have several dozen balls of PB & Bay cookie dough sitting in the freezer, waiting to be baked. Come on over! Glad you enjoyed the poems too. “Peanut Butter Cookies” was a serendipitous find.

  6. These look delicious, but I would have to eat all of them myself since my daughter is allergic to peanut butter and my husband doesn’t like spicy food. Hmm…that’s not a bad problem. I enjoyed the acrostic/golden shovel. Wow!

  7. What, one poetry form not enough for you?! What a wonderful achievement, Laura, merging both of those forms and coming up with a poem that doesn’t sound forced or constrained in any way. Clearly you are a master baker of poems as well as cookies. Congrats on being brave enough to put your recipe out there, even if it didn’t win a spot in the newspaper.

  8. Sally Murphy says:

    What a tasty post, Laura. I’m feeling pretty tempted to get baking now.

  9. Tabatha says:

    I will have to try your cookies — I like that you can freeze the dough and bake them later. I made cookies with potato chips before and wasn’t quite happy with them, but I’d like to give them another try. Good for you for exercising another part of your creative brain. I think that has a positive ripple effect on one’s writing, too. (I’m afraid to read the end of Romond’s poem, not quite ready to be verklempt. I’ll have to come back.)

  10. Brenda says:

    Laura, for some reason your combination of chili powder, crushed potato chips and peanut cookies made me think of chicken-fried steak and deep-fried ice cream. It is quintessentially American to create something brand new out of the things that surround us, to put our own creative spin on this world. I loved reading your recipe, eyebrows high and salivating, and then reading that moving poem. Can anything move us like food and poetry? And the two together is Christmas morning: shopping done, presents waiting, kids eyes shining, Santa’s cookie plate reduced to crumbs, Sinatra crooning carols, pancakes sizzling and a mimosa in the glass.

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Laura Shovan

Laura Shovan is the author of the award-winning middle grade novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. Her second book, Takedown, is a Junior Library Guild and PJ Our Way selection. Look for A Place at the Table, co-written with Saadia Faruqi, in 2020. Laura is a poet-in-the-schools Maryland.

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