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I like sandwiches, I eat them all the time;
I eat them for my supper and I eat them for my lunch;
If I had a hundred sandwiches, I’d eat them all at once.
No, I did not accidently post the Pastrami blog again. This is a tribute to Peanut Butter. I have to confess, I think the only reason the blog ladies assigned this one to me is because I told them my favourite sandwich is Peanut Butter and Pickle. Yes, you read that correctly, and no I’m not pregnant, and no, this is not some malicious food dare. But more on my favourite sandwich later, first a few observations.
If you plug “peanut butter” into the Epicurious search line it returns 226 recipes. Food Network Canada gives you 116. They run the course from sweet to savoury and everything in between. Google it and you’ll find peanut butter lovers and peanut butter haters and 2000 things you can do with peanut butter. (Hold the snickering and fat dog jokes.) Of course, all the big peanut butter producers offer up plenty of their own suggests hoping to encourage peanut butter consumption.
Apparently all that advertising has paid off. According to several unassailable internet sources (and I believe everything I read on the internet) Americans consume over 3 pounds of peanut butter each year. About half of the American peanut crop is used to make peanut butter. Canada is the largest importer of American peanut products including nearly $16 million worth of peanut butter annually. While peanut butter consumption may be easily established, the invention of peanut butter is hotly contested. Some say the first patent for peanut butter production was held by none other than J.H. Kellogg. I prefer to believe the Wiki version of events that that credits Montrealler, Marcellus Gilmore Edson with the honour in 1884. Regardless, peanut butter has been widely available and wildly popular for more than a century. No wonder it’s been lunch box staple for practically every kid in North American for generations.
Now, I don’t eat peanut butter for lunch everyday, but it does play a supporting role in several dishes that I make. Earlier this week we had cold soba noodles tossed with a peanut dressing with a tilapia fillet on the side. (Sorry, no photos. I wasn’t thinking about the blog, only dinner.) Yesterday, I was looking for something sweet to make for my diabetic grandmother. She doesn’t eat peanut butter much because it usually has so much sugar in it, but the one in my cupboard has no sugar or salt added. We decided on peanut butter bars. I adapted a brownie recipe to create what was an undeniable success.
Diabetic Friendly Peanut Butter Bars
- 1/2 cup peanut butter, no added salt or sugar
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/3 cups Splenda
- 2 tbsp fancy molasses
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, optional
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease a 9×9 inch baking pan.
- Cream together peanut butter and margarine. Gradually blend in the Splenda, molasses, eggs, and vanilla. Mix until fluffy.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add nuts to dry ingredients.
- Stir dry ingredients into the peanut butter mixture until well blended.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in preheated oven, or until the top springs back when touched.
- Cool, and cut into 16 squares.
Now back to my favourite sandwich… I don’t remember the first time I put peanut butter and pickles together, but it never seemed odd to me. I loved peanut butter, particularly on a thick crust of fresh baked bread. I loved dill pickles and have eaten pickle sandwiches for as long as I can remember. No one blinks and eye over peanut butter with jam, bananas, celery and chocolate. Why not pickles? You may not think of this peculiar combo as haute cuisine but it possesses all the qualities that you look for in truly good food; a combination of textures and colours and a balance between salty and sweet, and between acid and fat. Are you starting to see the light?
I understand your scepticism. It’s not something you’ll see on the menu at the local deli, though you would if I owned it. It took a lot of convincing to get the sandwich shop near my office to make a PB&P for me. Just recently my son’s fiancé refused to make him a PB&P because she was so utterly convinced that he was joking.
K: Okay, funny, now what do you really want for lunch?
D: I want a peanut butter and pickle sandwich.
K: Tell me what you want now or you can make your own lunch.
D: I’m serious. I want a peanut butter and pickle sandwich.
K: I’m not standing here all day. Just make your own lunch.
A couple of days later when they were at our place, he made me tell her that we do actually eat PB&P sandwiches. She looked disgusted. I’m not sure if she’s tried one yet.
But I promise you, it’s not as weird as it sounds. If you like peanut butter and you like pickles, I am positive you’ll like them together. Many have taken the plunge before you and they’ve all come up extolling the virtues of the peanut butter and pickle sandwich. Just ask my once incredulous husband. My personal favourite is thick slices of dill pickle and creamy peanut butter on good chewy multi-grain bread. Bread and butter pickles might be too sweet but there’s nothing wrong with a good kosher pickle. And, I see no reason why pickled beets wouldn’t be just as good. I implore you to give it a try. No, better yet, I dare you!