Breads, Relishes, Jams and Jellies, Sandwiches

Peanut, Peanut Butter and Jelly

This is how you spread it

First you take the peanuts and you crunch ’em, you crunch ’em
First you take the peanuts and you crunch ’em, you crunch ’em
For your peanut, peanut butter and jelly
Peanut, peanut butter and jelly

Even though school starts tomorrow in our school district apparently my brain is still in summer camp mode, if the titles of my last two blogs are any indication. But, much to the chagrin of the kids in my neighborhood and delight of the parents, school is about to start and so my thoughts have turned to school lunches and the ubiquitous peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

I know some schools have become “peanut free zones” due to highly allergic students. Some comedians treat it lightly, but I wouldn’t want any child’s life to be threatened because of a severe reaction to my kid’s lunch.  This is not an issue for us, luckily, but I personally like almond butter as well as, if not better than, peanut butter. Though I have heard sunflower seed butter is generally safer for those with allergies. I say luckily because Justin LOVES PB&J for lunch, he asked for it almost every day last year.

PEANUT BUTTER: I don’t understand why it needs to be made from anything other than peanuts, salt and maybe a little peanut oil.  And, I certainly cannot fathom how a product can be labelled “natural” when it contains rainforest destroying “palm oil“. Oh wait, the label says it contains no artificial preservatives or ingredients just like every other peanut butter on the market – well that just makes things as clear as mud. Since it is a major manufacturer I am sure it is technically correct under FDA guidelines, but I still think it is misleading.

I remember getting freshly ground peanut butter two places as a child: the health food store (still available in my area at Sprouts and Tom’s Farms) and at my grandparents house. My Grandfather Max had to cut back on salt so he got himself a machine like the one on the left and he’d make us peanut butter as a treat when we came over. And, Root Beer Floats with real paper straws, sigh. But that is another subject entirely.

I tried to make it once in the food processor to limited success, but after reading Alton Brown’s directions I know where it went awry – the choice of peanuts. I used generic dry roasted peanuts I had leftover from something. Try to buy raw nuts and roast them yourself, otherwise they may be too dry and you end up needing too much extra oil to get them to the correct consistency.

Creamy versus Crunchy. I like crunchy, the boss likes creamy. I buy creamy.

THE OTHER THING INSIDE: Some people, mostly on the east coast, like something called a “Fluffernutter” which uses marshmallow cream along with the peanut butter. I have never tried one.  When it goes on sale in a month or two for holiday baking season I will pick some up and give it a try.

Yesterday, I finally got J to try some bananas on top of the peanut butter and crackers he was having for snack. How’d I get him to try it?  I let him make them himself with a popsicle stick to spread the peanut butter and Mommy-sliced bananas on the side. Must follow my own advice more often and let him try to make things himself to increase the chances of him trying it.

Another healthful topping is honey. I prefer to use raw locally harvested honey because there is some evidence suggesting that eating it can reduce the occurrence of seasonal allergies. Ok, that’s not exactly true. Mostly, I eat it mostly because it tastes 10 times better than anything you can buy at a regular grocery store.

But the traditional sandwich, begs for jelly/jam/preserves. At this moment I have the following homemade jellies/jams/preserves in my kitchen:

  • caramel apple jelly (apple jelly recipe from Ball Blue Book, substituted brown sugar for 1/2 the sugar)
  • citrus marmalade (orange lemon marmalade from Ball Blue Book and substituted some of the orange and lemon with grapefruit)
  • red grape jelly (can’t get more locally grown than my backyard)
  • loquat ginger preserves
  • strawberry lavender jam
  • watermelon preserves (yet another Ball Blue Book recipe)
  • garlic jelly (this would probably be disgusting on a PB&J sandwich, but it is a jelly and it is in my cupboard)

So what does my son insist on having on his sandwich? Store bought strawberry preserves. Anything else is greeted with his adorably annoying “no, no, no” and is promptly handed back to me with a command to “fix it”. Sigh. Pearls before swine.

BREAD: We use whatever bread we happen to have on hand, be it store bought or homemade. I knead to get some of my bread recipes up on the site (ha ha ha ha). A few of my favorites:

The only requirement Sir Fusspot has in this area is no crusts. That’s okay, I always find a use for them: in my mouth as soon as he is not looking.

PUT IT ALL TOGETHER: As far as preparation is concerned, a friend of a friend on Facebook mentioned that she always puts the jelly on the bread first then the peanut butter so the bread soaks up the jelly. It is the ONLY way I make them now.

And my niece, Harmony, raves about her roommate’s grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. But, they were too busy with sorority business to respond to my e-mail about the exact preparation this week. We’ll see if that guilts her into responding.

I am sure I will get more creative with lunches as the school year moves along. But at least for the first few days, I will pack him a simple creamy peanut butter and strawberry preserve sandwich on crustless white bread.

Until next time, happy eating.



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