Feb 14, 2012

The Best Peanut Butter Cookies Ever

Last year I posted a blog about peanut butter fudge drop cookies with the same basic ingredients as the recipe I am about to post, albeit with a few minor tweaks that, ultimately, make all the difference in the world.

I have been baking cookies as long as I can remember from rural Massachusetts to urban California and these Peanut Butter Cookies are the absolute best I have ever had.


  • 1 large egg (I was scarred as a child by an egg with a partially formed baby chick inside so I never use real eggs, instead I used the equivalent amount of Lucerne's Best of the Egg)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (I used a mix of white and raw sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter (I used Skippy this time)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I doubled this up from 1/2 tsp)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter chips (these replaced the 1/3 cup of crushed nuts from the original recipe)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium to large bowl, mix together the egg, sugar, and baking soda until it's smooth and well blended. Spoon in the peanut butter. Mix well. Add the vanilla. Mix and stir in the peanut butter chips.

Scoop out tablespoon sized balls of dough. Place about an inch or so apart. Use a fork to press down slightly on each one.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Makes about 20 ridiculously yummy cookies.


Feb 8, 2012

Writing the Castaneda Script

Dublin sleeping on Amy's book
A little over a year ago, I was in Massachusetts visiting family over Xmas break and, during a particularly bad weather streak, I read Amy Wallace's memoir, Sorcerer's Apprentice: My Life with Carlos Castaneda.

It moved me.

A couple months later, I met with Amy and optioned her book. And so began my first adventure adapting a book into a screenplay (since I took a class in college on it years ago)...

Prepping Notes
After almost a year of research, interviews, self doubt, Scarlett Amaris saving the script by helping me structure the plot from my disjointed notes on a yellow legal pad into approximately 30 index cards, and more self doubt, I finally finished the first draft today. It took me 8 actual days of writing over a 3 week period to complete (not counting a handful of scenes written prior to Scarlett's collaboration that were mostly scrapped, although I did incorporate elements). (My writing days were so sporadic because I only wrote days Jeremy worked so I could have the place to myself - only because I can be a monster if my concentration is broken. I seriously need a private office. Who wants to give me $20,000 to put down on this cute little house in Silverlake with an office? Anyway...)

I feel elated. 

Now, I just have to input the script to Final Draft... Edit, Re-write, Repeat (as necessary), Polish.

(4) Legal Pads (Please ignore the pink ribbons - purchased prior to scandal.) 
(2) LiveScribe notebooks
I'm experimenting with a new process. I don't touch type (long story) and I just feel more organically connected to my words via pen and paper, anyway. So, I hashed out the script on (4) legal pads, then copied them word for word, making preliminary editing notes and tying up loose ends along the way, into (2) LiveScribe notebooks with the Echo (a LiveScribe pen). (It took 2 regular pens and 3 ink refills for the Echo.)
(4) Legal Pads (side view)
(2) LiveScribe notebooks (side view)
Next, I'll convert it to text with an app called MyScript, check it over, and input it to Final Draft. I'm really curious to see how the conversion process goes and if it's better than just typing the whole thing out. (Note: a typical blog I can write in an afternoon takes me up to a week to type, never mind several pages of a script. I can't even tell you how many handwritten scripts, short stories, unfinished novels, and poems I have that will never see the light of day just because I will never get around to typing them out.) Thing is - just by having to physically write it out twice, daily, scene by scene or sequence by sequence, albeit insane, seemed to really aid my writing process - I felt more connected to each word. So, even if it's slower in the end, which it's already proving to not be, I still might do it this way again in the future just because the process itself really suits me. The mogigraphia, or "writer's cramp," on the other hand, not so much.

I also documented every day I wrote with a photograph of my "writing station" (to track my progress), which I've included below for your viewing pleasure (or boredom, whichever the case may be - it's all good, I don't care, I finished a year long script/project today! Well, the first draft, at least...)

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7 
Day 8
TL;DR: It took me a year of prep work to write a script in 8 days and I'm psyched to move on to the next phase - re-writes.

[UPDATE #1 2/13/12: Took 2 days to convert my handwriting to text via MyScript. Only 1 page out of 166 pages did not convert. I assume something corrupted that 1 page. Next step: Going over the  entire text with a fine-toothed-comb to make sure every word converted correctly.]