MARY ETTA McGRAW
What a Dish!
Today is National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day! Now that’s something I like to celebrate. Mind you, I prefer PB& Jam, not jelly, but I expect that’s an OK riff on the rite.
For as long as I can remember I have enjoyed, nay loved, PB&J. As a child during Lent I would attend morning Mass before school followed by “breakfast” in my classroom. It was always PB&J with a glass of milk sent along in a recycled jar.
The other kids had those neat one-serving waxed cartons. I would have loved if my milk came like that but my mother deemed them expensive. She sent milk in a recycled jar.
In high school the PB&J was rotated with salmon and tuna sandwiches enjoyed with milk bought at the Tuck Shop – in a one-serving waxed container! Did it cost $0.25? I think so. Expensive for the late ’50s but I expect my father intervened allowing the expense.
Have you tried the PB&J grilled as you would a grilled cheese? That is soooo good. Another riff is to mash a banana and use it as you would the jam or jelly with the peanut butter – also very good!
In the good-ol-days, the sandwich bread was of the white stretchy variety – as my dad so disparagingly called it. He disdained such bread and ate only Mrs. Ryan’s Bakery bread (Brantford in the 50s and 60s) and as a result I eventually developed a taste for good bread too.
Most recently I had PB&J on buttermilk bread from Vittoria’s Good Bread Company — fantastic. They carry a wide variety of breads over the course of any given week but the buttermilk, light rye and Indian summer multigrain are standards along with many others that are frequent shelf residents. PB&J would be good on any of them – it goes with anything.
They are always creating new bread varieties and while there I also bought Beet Whole Wheat and Walnut Whole Wheat. I tried them both with PB&J and can readily give the combo full marks!
The Beet Whole Grain sounds unusual doesn’t it? I wondered if it was just me but when I Googled it, all that came up was whole wheat blueberry beet muffins. Every other link was for Beer Whole Wheat bread – the search engine assumed I had misspelled.
If the Beet Whole Wheat is on the shelf when you are there one day, give it a try. Use it as you would any bread – for toast, sandwiches, grilled cheese, topped with pesto, torn and served with infused oils etc.
As for peanut butters, there is a wide variety available to suit tastes and budgets.
Grocery store peanut butters are healthy choices although you need to know that sugar is added to most, so check that out. So is salt, so do some comparisons.
You can pick up fresh peanut butter at Kernal Peanuts, just off Hwy 24 south (watch for the sign) or Picard’s Peanuts on 24 north of Simcoe. No Frills carries “PC Just Peanuts” peanut butter which also has no additives.
Traditional jarred peanut butter has been hydrogenated but trans fats don’t form in the process. The purpose of hydrogenation is to prevent the oil from separating and to increase the products shelf life. In fact you can keep such peanut butter in the kitchen cupboard. But if you prefer to avoid such processing regardless, buy simple peanut butter with no changes or additions.
The down side to plain peanut butters is that the oil will separate over time and migrate to the surface. Don’t pour this off! The peanut butter in the bottom of the jar will just get harder to get out. Moreover, non-hydrogenated peanut butter must be refrigerated, making the bottom-of-the-jar peanut butter even harder.
Here’s what I do to circumvent this issue: Scrape the peanut butter into a large bowl and beat it with a wire whisk to blend thoroughly. Return it to the jar and refrigerate. Depending on how quickly you use the PB, you may have to repeat this process. I don’t.
PB&J French Toast
Peanut Butter and strawberry jam for 4 sandwiches
8 slices Good Bread Company Buttermilk or other bread, pre-sliced
1 cup milk
1 Tb honey or sugar
1/4 cup chopped peanuts, optional
Make 4 sandwiches with the PB&J. Fit the sandwiches into a cake pan in a single layer.
Beat together remaining ingredients not including chopped peanuts and pour over sandwiches. Press on tops lightly until bread absorbs mixture. Cover, refrigerate and leave for an hour or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350F. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts if using and bake uncovered for 1 hour. Let stand 10 minutes before serving with chunky fruit puree.
Chunky Fruit Puree
1 pint fresh strawberries sliced (may use frozen berries – crush them with a potato masher)
2 Tb honey, maple syrup, strawberry jam, or sugar; less to taste
Cook a few minutes over medium heat until fruit starts to release it juices and soften, stirring several times. Ladle some over each serving. Pass remainder.
To serve just one person, make one sandwich and place in a small baking dish; mix together 1 egg, 1/3 cup milk and 1 tsp honey/sugar to pour over the sandwich. Bake until egg mixture is set – about 30 minutes. Allow to rest for 3 minutes before serving.
My Favourite take on the PB&J today
Make one for each serving
6-in. whole wheat tortilla
1 – 2 Tb peanut butter
1 tsp strawberry jam or jelly, optional
1 spear fresh pineapple
2 large strawberries sliced
Spread the tortilla with peanut butter and jam (if using the latter). Lay the pineapple spear on one side of the tortilla and top with strawberry slices. Roll the tortilla and eat as finger food.
PB & J Soup
Make 4 servings
2 Tb canola or olive oil
2 Tb onion, grated
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1 tsp grated lemon zest
2 Tb flour
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup creamy or crunchy peanut butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup light cream or coconut milk
2 Tb Roasted peanuts, chopped
1/2 cup Grape jelly
Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add onion and celery and sauté for 5 minutes. Add lemon zest and flour and mix until well blended. Slowly stir in chicken broth and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and strain broth to remove the celery and onions. Next, stir the peanut butter, salt and cream into the strained broth until mixed well. Serve hot. Garnish each serving with a teaspoon of chopped peanuts and a dollop of your favorite jelly.