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World's Greatest PB&J
Remember how you spent those summer days of your childhood, sitting on the floor in your living room, watching the mid-day cartoons and enjoying that oh-so-satisfying snack of a cold glass of milk accompanying your Mom's great peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Well, now you can turn back time and relive one of those wonderful moments of your youth with this great recipe for the World's Best PB&J!
• several slices of bread: my preference is a thickly sliced, fresh, soft white Italian bread, but some traditionalists insist on the favorite white bread of their childhood — Millbrook or Wonder; for a low-fat alternative, try a low-calorie soft whole grain bread
• peanut butter: I recommend Jif Reduced-Fat Creamy, for best overall flavor and consistency; although some people prefer Crunchy, I feel the crunch gets in the way of savoring the true peanut butter flavor
• jelly: my current top pick is Trader Joe's Organic Blueberry Preserves, though traditionalists might opt for Welch's classic Concord Grape jelly
• cold milk: fresh skim, 1%, 2% or whole milk, or even light vanilla soy milk
• microwave oven
• butter knife
Begin by taking two slices of bread from the loaf and opening them book-page fashion. That way, if the bread slices are in any way misshapen (because SOMEBODY scrunched the loaf on the way home from the grocery store!) or are asymmetrical, you will eliminate any chance of a peanut butter overlap that does not meet its jelly mate, or vice versa. Not only does such a misalignment mar the eventual flavor of the sandwich, but it can also lead to a wardrobe mishap, if the sandwich is the least bit runny.
Next, spread a generous amount of the peanut butter in a smooth, level and consistent layer across one slice of the bread (I prefer to start with the left slice as the peanut butter slice). Avoid tearing or bruising the bread on the knife pass. Over time and with practice, you’ll be able to develop a deft sweep of your knife hand that provides the proper layer in a single pass. Whether you cut the crusts from your bread or not (purists can agree to disagree on this matter), you should always cover the bread from edge to edge to edge. No area of bread should be visible through any of the peanut butter layer!
Repeat this process in applying jelly to the second slice of bread (the right slice, or “jelly” slice). Again, remember to apply the jelly in a smooth, level and consistent layer from edge to edge to edge, while employing a deft sweep of knife to avoid any tearing or bruising of the bread slice. Like the peanut butter layer, the jelly layer should obscure from view all areas of bread!
Take each slice of bread tenderly into the palms of your respective hands, and slowly and gently clap the bread slices into one another, with all edges perfectly aligned. When finished, you should have a sandwich with a perfectly continuous rim of bread meeting bread, with no overlap or underlap.
Prior to the next step, have ready a tall, chilled glass of freshly poured milk of your choice.
Place a napkin in the center of your microwave oven and insert the completed sandwich, centered on the napkin. Microwave for no more than 30 seconds at 30% power. (Your microwave oven may be a different model with different power characteristics than my finely calibrated oven, so you may have to experiment a bit to get the ideal settings to produce an ideal sandwich. Experimenting is OK; more sandwiches!)
Remove the warmed sandwich from the microwave oven, and, orienting the sandwich to your preference (I favor jelly side up), take your first wondrous bite! Flash back to the days of your youth and the dreamlike experience of that unbeatable childhood snack!
If you prefer bite-size snacks, simply cut your completed World’s Greatest PB&J into small squares. Pop one in your mouth, and YUM! (Almost as tasty as rickzworld!)
After a sandwich warming or two, your microwave oven may acquire the slight aroma of fresh World’s Greatest PB&J, so be prepared to share sandwiches with the rest of your family, any visitors, and any neighbors within 500 yards, and their pets.