The last several installments of this column have explored questions at the nexis of the economics, politics and philosophy of peanut butter. These are undoubtedly important issues that merit serious thought, but I can’t help but feel like I’ve strayed from what needs to be the central concern of this column – the eating of peanut butter.
So this week I’m going to dispense with the abstractions and talk about how to finish your peanut butter-eating year on a strong note. Now that may sound like a bizarre thing to say. If you’re reading this column, you’re probably a big peanut butter eater already. Why would you need to take any special steps to ensure you get enough PB in your system over the next month and a half?
Well I’ll explain. It’s coming up on the Holidays, and what with all the turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, pot roast, pumpkin pie, latkes, and traditional Kwanza foods that will be forced upon you in the coming weeks, it can be easy to forget to eat enough peanut butter. As much as I like Thanksgiving and most of its accompanying foods, the full menu and inevitable mountains of leftovers can leave precious little room for peanut butter.
Unless of course you take matters into your own hands and make some changes to the menu. I find that with some minor adjustments and a little creative license you can insert a hearty dose of peanut butter into the traditional Thanksgiving meal.
So, allow me to present the peanut butter eater’s guide to Thanksgiving.
Turkey: Okay, there’s not much wiggle room here. It is called Turkey Day after all, so it would seem like a bit of an overreach to argue for replacing the main dish with peanut butter sandwiches for example, and even I wouldn’t go so far as to conjure (either logistically or gustatorily) a peanut-butter crusted turkey.
Stuffing, on the other hand, is simply begging for an infusion of peanut butter. Stuffing is an inherently vague concept. Like porn, we know it when we see it, but it’s tricky to define. The dictionary will tell you that stuffing is something along the lines of “material used to stuff, especially a mixture used to stuff food.” Thanks for nothing, Webster.
What is stuffing really? I envision stuffing as a chaotic, food-based micro-universe, where chunks of bread form the major planetary bodies and a handful of featured ingredients (the vegetables, nuts, fruits, what-have-you) are the asteroids, comets and interstellar dust, all held in orbit by a viscous oil/broth concoction that gives the entire system its defining physical property.
Now simply substitute peanut butter for the oil/broth concoction that holds most stuffing together, and what you have is a peanut butter-centric micro-universe. With this framework in mind, it is easy to conjure an entire food category of peanut butter-based stuffings.
If you’re still struggling a bit with this concept, just imagine a peanut butter sandwich upon which all laws of physics cease to act. The constituent particles spontaneously disperse, gravity becomes moot, and we are left with chunks of bread, jelly globs, bananas, chopped nuts, chocolate chips, or whatever other ingredients you put in your sandwich, suspended at random throughout the peanut butter-space continuum.
This is the general principle behind peanut butter stuffing, and it lends itself to infinite permutations, the most promising of which I will briefly describe:
PB, banana, and honey stuffing: Combine peanut butter, vegetable oil, and honey; microwave until viscous; Slice a banana, sautee in oil, brown sugar, and cinnamon; Combine bananas, peanut butter mixture, and chopped bread; mix chaotically.
Apple Cinna-stuffing: Prepare peanut butter as above (no honey); Cook sliced apples in butter, sprinkling liberally with cinnamon and brown sugar; Combine apples, peanut butter, bread, and ¼ cup of raisins (optional).
Peanut butter Smo’ruffing: Peanut butter, bread, crushed graham crackers, milk chocolate squares, miniature marshmellows.
Okay, I think that about covers it for stuffing. If you’re still looking to round out your Thanksgiving menu with more peanut butter, let’s see what else we can do.
Cranberry Sauce: Hmm, nothing doing here. I like it straight out of the Ocean Spray can, no fanciness whatsoever; don’t think it would go well with PB. Although, a handful of dried cranberries on a slice of peanut butter toast is solid – just a thought.
Desserts: Aha! There is definitely room for peanut butter here. Namely in the pumpkin pie. I think that peanut butter pumpkin pie should be a Thanksgiving staple (although I guess the Pilgrims didn’t have Jif), but shockingly one rarely encounters this particular pie. Fortunately, there are straightforward recipes out there, so you don’t have to rely on my vague and peanut butter-heavy speculations on how to actually prepare food.
Finally, if you’re in the mood for more, here’s a no-brainer: peanut butter cookies in the shape of turkeys.
Any other ideas? I suspect that sweet potatoes would be amenable to PB but can’t quite work out the logistics right now. A healthy dollop on top of a baked sweet potato, en lieu of sour cream? Could work, but not very creative.
Free jar of peanut butter to whoever comes up with the most promising PB and sweet potatoes dish.