The Jambar Column: Whipping up some creativity

By C. Aileen Blaine

As a self-proclaimed artistic individual, I’m constantly on the prowl for new creative outlets to sink my teeth into. Prior to the pandemic lockdowns, I’d dabbled in culinary endeavors, but during the bleak, cold days of April 2020, I learned that baking goodies checks all the boxes for what makes me happy. Baking is a hands-on way to exercise my adventurous side, and it’s a constant learning experience that also brings others joy. I’ve even managed to understand a little chemistry along the way! 

There’s something to be said about the way such run-of-the-mill ingredients as flour, sugar and eggs can come together to make countless gastronomical creations. Like any other form of art, baking is a way to take what others may perceive to be mundane and turn it into something that spans culture, class, ethnicity or religion. Food can be a powerful language in its own right. 

I’d like to share some of my favorite recipes, taken from my very own collection of butter-stained notecards. Some of these recipes — though likely procured from the side of a can or box — have spanned at least four generations of my family, and they’re still a hit today. 

I hope these recipes bring you and your loved ones as much joy as they have me. Happy baking!

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg

½ teaspoon baking powder

(optional) 1 cup baking chips or nuts

Mix peanut butter, sugar and egg together until smooth and fluffy. Add baking powder. Bake at 375℉ for 7–10 minutes.

Snickerdoodle cookies

1 cup butter

1 ½ cups sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 ¾ cups flour

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 teaspoon baking soda

(optional) Cinnamon and sugar mixture for rolling 

Mix butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, add egg. Combine sifted dry ingredients with wet. Roll dough into small balls, cover in cinnamon and sugar mixture. Bake at 375℉ for 8–10 minutes. 

Chocolate Cake

⅔ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

⅔ cup butter

1 ⅔ cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 ½ cups coffee

3 eggs

2 cups flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

¼ teaspoon baking powder

Mix together wet ingredients until smooth and fluffy. Add sifted dry ingredients, stir until just combined. Bake in a greased 9-by-13-inch pan at 350℉ for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool before adding a frosting of your choice.