>For the third Thursday night in a row I was home this evening, doing nothing, and it was great. Okay, not really. I was baking a batch of flourless peanut butter cookies and watching my favorite hour of medical angst. But since I wasn’t out on a date, or drinking and dancing up a storm, to most of my friends that evening’s events would be considered “doing nothing.”
Ever actually do “nothing”? You can’t, really. Even when sitting perfectly still your mind is going a million miles an hour, and even if it isn’t you’re concentrating on something beautiful and serene. So really, the word “nothing” is deceptive at best. Think of all the times someone has asked you a question and your response has been “nothing.”
Remember this old chestnut: “What did you do in school today?”
And the oft-repeated response: “Nothing.”
Now there’s an outright lie right there. Over the course of one day at school I talked to friends about going to the movies, got bullied out of my bus money, traded my carrot sticks for a cupcake, actually spiked a volleyball in gym, got a compliment from the cutest boy in class on my art project, watched my science teacher demonstrate Newton’s Laws by whizzing around on roller skates, and read a poem that made my heart ache.
Maybe we say “nothing” because we can’t bear for other people to reach that conclusion first?
That’s a ridiculous thought, because everyone does what we like to call “nothing”- we think it’s not worth talking about, but it’s the stuff we have to do to get by. (I just finished reading Julie Powell’s book, and once you get past the premise- doing every recipe in a cookbook by Julia Child in a year- it’s about Powell’s every day life. She goes to the store, she cooks, she works, she cooks, she argues with her husband, she blogs, she cooks. In short, it’s the kind of “nothing” that thousands of women have probably undertaken before, except that she’s a better writer with a lot more personality than most folks and blogging it made it “something”. But I digress. A lot.)
In winter, when every second of daylight feels like a moral imperative to accomplish something, doing “nothing” can take on a special urgency. “Nothing” can be all the tasks you need to do to fill up the emotional and spiritual holes left in your day after work. It can be what you need to do so that when darkness and your body signifies its intent to sleep, your shoulders relax and the wrinkles in your brow fade away. Whatever it is, or isn’t, “nothing,” once accomplished, is one of the most satisfying things we do.
My mother is the master of doing “nothing.” I can’t count the number of times I’ve asked her what she was planning for a gorgeous, sunny Saturday and her response was simply, “Nothing.” In truth, Mom is a smart woman who has embraced her portion of “nothing”- she loves to organize, to be the oil in the machine that keeps it running. She’s good at it. My mother’s idea of “nothing,” can mean something like “paying all the bills, getting our tax stuff together, making charitable donations, sewing an 18th c. reproduction ballgown, starting a t-shirt quilt, planning a holiday dinner, and making a Christmas card list.” Followed by an hour of real “nothing”: playing Solitaire on the computer.
I rarely make plans on Thursdays anymore because I have come to embrace, rather than fear, the idea of doing “nothing.” To spend an evening unabashedly enjoying the kitchen every week is sheer heaven. And I love trying new recipes, like Shauna’s. Though being aimed at a folks who are living la vida gluten-free, it’s tasty and simple and it’s one-third peanut butter. Which is the only thing I needed to buy to make the cookies- I found a jar of Crazy Richard’s all natural creamy, which pretty much rocked the house. In fact, after tasting it I decided to double the recipe and use the whole darn jar. The folks at the office ate them up.
Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies adapted from Gluten-Free Girl
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Cream the peanut butter and sugar. Beat in the baking powder. Add the egg. Mix until it is all well combined.
The dough is going to look a little crumbly, but after rolling it into a ball it will start to glom together nicely. I made them into heaping teaspoon-sized balls.
Pour some white sugar into a shallow bowl and roll the ball in the sugar until coated. Place on cookie sheets. Flatten each ball gently with a fork or cookie press.
Bake in the oven for about ten minutes. You will know the cookies are done when they feel coherent, but still a little soft. Take the tray out of the oven and let the cookies rest for at least five minutes. Seriously, restrain yourself from flipping them onto a rack because they WILL fall apart!
Afterwards, carefully transfer them to a cooling rack. After ten minutes or so, they will have hardened and be glistening with sugar.
If this is what some people consider “nothing,” then condemn me to an eternity of it!