PeaNot Butter and Jelly. Garden Fresh and Good for You
Peanut butter and jelly is a classic American combination that's hard to resist in any form, whether it be sandwiches, Pop Tarts, pastries, cupcakes, cookies, limited-edition Reese's cups or pie.
As time passes, hips broaden and prices on processed foods sky-rocket, I've come to the conclusion that classic peanut butter and jelly is a horrid combination for both my pocketbook and my waistline.
Today's mission was to discover a PB&J alternative that would be cheap, local and satisfying. Luckily, this wasn't like the vinegar-chicken fiasco, and I pretty much got things right the first time. [Hooray!]
How PeaNot Butter Works
Nut butters have intense flavors and a high fat content. They'll overpower pretty much anything, which is why cooks use them sparingly and as a main flavor, not an accent.
White beans are "delicately" flavored, meaning they have very little taste but absorb other flavors well. The white beans suck up the nut butter flavor. They also add fiber and protein while cutting calories per serving. White beans are also very mushy. They cook quickly and puree easily to give a smooth nut butter-like texture.
- 2 cups cooked and drained Great Northern Beans OR other tasteless beans
- 1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed butter) OR peanut butter OR almond butter, etc.
- Salt to taste
Put beans in a bowl. Puree with a stick blender until smooth - (Great Northern Beans are watery, and get really smooth really fast). Add 1/4 cup tahini. Puree some more.
Taste. Add tablespoons of tahini until the mixture tastes like not-very-tasty nut butter.
Add a sprinkle of salt. Stir. Taste. Repeat until the PeaNot butter tastes like something you'd eat.
If you're a bean-loving vegan, you'll probably be happier with more beans and less tahini. If you're a peanut-afficiando, a few generous dollops of tahini will serve you well.
I forgot to measure, drew a tahini zig-zag across the top of the bowl and did a happy dance when the result was actually tasty.
To keep this recipe frugal even if you don't have a nut butter on hand, just buy a cup of nuts at the store. Add 2 tablespoons of beans to the nuts and puree with a stick blender to make nut butter. When it's smooth, and more beans to make PeaNot butter.
How the Sour-Grape Thing Works
A bit of honey and heat makes even the tartest grapes tasty. Roasting makes all the grapes much sweeter than they were originally. The overly firm green grapes split open and soften. The honey on the outside and the sugars inside make them tart but appealing, almost like roasted sour cherries.
When all the grapes are mixed together, you get a medley of flavors that goes great with the PeaNot butter, but also works well over ice cream or in tarts.
The seeds are a pain. If they're very bothersome, you could use a ricer or a food mill to get rid of them. Of course, this would also get rid of the skins, and require cleaning said food mill or ricer.
I think the skins are the best part, and I'm not a big fan of cleaning, so I leave the seeds in and pretend I eat them because of the proanthocyanidins.
Roasted-Grape Jelly from My Own Backyard
Backyard grapes are not terribly exciting. They're mottled, tart and full of seeds. Any given bunch'll have a few perfect red grapes, a few tart green ones, some shrunken heads, and loads of empty stems.
It's not exactly a pretty picture for your fruit basket or brunch buffet, and I've been guilty in the past of letting the fruit rot on the vine.
Not this season! This has been a successful year of growing quick-greens, harvesting my handful of raspberries, and foraging for dandelion, clover and other freebies growing in my own front yard. Using the food growing literally at your doorstep, is a fun, frugal, healthy way of living that puts more pep in your step and more money in your wallet.
I'm not quite up to canning things. The thought of sterilizing and boiling just makes me tired.
The thought of botulism is just scary and kills any thought of home-canning or jelly-making.
Luckily, Aida Mellenkamp's Sweet-Tart Quick-Roasted Grapes Recipe was just what I needed. Here's the adapted version I used:
- Pre-heat oven to 375
- Remove grapes from stems. Leave the unripe green ones where the stem stays in the grape. Everything else is ripe enough for this recipe.
- Rinse grapes and put in a bowl.
- Mix oil and honey. Pour over grapes, stirring grapes for equal-ish coverage.
- Oil something sort of flat (in my case a ). Drop in the grapes. Stick in the oven. paella pan
- Set timer to 15 minutes, and remove when the grapes are split (11 minutes in my case). The cook time will vary depending on the size of your pan and the number of grapes, but keep your ears open. You'll know they're split, because you'll hear the grape juices sizzling on the oiled pan.