Recipe Corner Cooking Techniques

Peanut Butter Makes It All Better

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Peanut butter asks so little of us -- not even refrigeration -- yet it brings so much comfort, sometimes with sticky little fingerprints. Indeed, it's the king of comfort foods. Well, at least in our neck of the woods. (As much as we adore international foods, we're still amazed that peanut butter never really took off in Europe. Sheesh!)

We grew up on the stuff. Our love of peanut butter saw us through school recess, summer camp and late-night cram sessions. Almost any childhood story carries a nostalgic whiff of peanut butter, and we never quite outgrow the related nuttiness. Although our adult sensibilities often demand more cosmopolitan fare than, say, a peanut butter & jelly sandwich with the crusts cut off, when you go beyond our cool sense of professional decorum, we really do love us some p.b.

So how do you tame your peanut butter cravings? Let's harken back to the days of the multiple choice test:

A.) The Athlete: Mix it with puffed grains, nuts, seeds & dried fruit to make your own trailmix clusters.

B.) The Healthy Snacker: Use peanut butter as a dip for crunchy snack foods. Pretzel rods, graham crackers, carrots and celery are all classic choices, because there's a creamy-crunchy-sweet-salty blend that satisfies the urge to munch.

C.) The Decadent Snacker: Peanut butter reaches its full complexity -- or so we tell ourselves -- when it's combined with chocolate, fudge, marshmallow creme, fruit syrups or honey. Serve with fruit such as strawberries and bananas. Or brownies.

D.) The Thai Take-Out Maven: Many Thai dishes, such as Pad Thai, incorporate peanut butter into their legendarily bold-flavored sauces. You can't go wrong here.

E.) The All-American: PB&J. Actually, this is a trick answer: The "proper" kind of jelly (grape vs. strawberry, blackberry vs. peach, etc.) can spark an argument in mixed company, so proceed carefully.

"All of the above" is an answer that suits us just fine! Let us know what works for you.

We'll have a jar of peanut butter ready.