Today was an unusual day because it wasn’t your typical holiday. It wasn’t National Peanut Butter Day; it was National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day. There’s a slight difference in the wording. National Peanut Butter Day was back on January 24th. That was also Beer Can Appreciation Day, and I actually celebrated the beer can on that day with a nice cold can of beer and some fine roasted chicken. Technically I haven’t celebrated peanut butter yet, although I’ve certainly had my share of PB throughout this quest. I searched, but I couldn’t find a reason why we needed a day for peanut butter lovers. I understand why we need one for peanut butter. As a nation, we’re so nuts for peanut butter that each American eats three pounds of peanut butter each year. That’s gulping down about three entire giant jars a piece. I feel if an individual has not met their three jar quota by December, he/she should be required to sit down and just eat a whole jar of peanut butter with only a spoon (and maybe a glass of milk). So yes, we love peanut butter. I just couldn’t find any reason why a whole day was created for those who love peanut butter. I did find a website called PeanutButterLoversDay.com which I clicked on (after being a bit wary where it was going to take me which could have gone in a whole different direction), but they gave no explanation of the origin of this day. They did however give me these interesting peanut butter tidbits:
- Peanut shells are used to make kitty litter, wallboard, fireplace logs, paper and animal feed, and are sometimes used as fuel for power plants.
- The average child will eat 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before he or she graduates from high school.
- It takes about 540 peanuts to make a 12-ounce jar of peanut butter.
- To legally label the spread as peanut butter, it must contain a minimum of 90 per cent peanuts with no artificial sweeteners, colors or preservatives.
- Four of the top 10 candy bars manufactured in the U.S. contain peanuts or peanut butter.
- Archibutyrophobia is the fear of getting peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth.
Lola loves peanut butter. I mean, she likes it a lot but not in an obsessive way – like wearing Skippy Peanut Butter sweatshirts and naming her dolls Jif, Peter Pan and Whole Foods (who is the doll that everyone really hates but people keep telling you it’s so much more natural and better for you than the other dolls). No, Lola just enjoys peanut butter. It’s a comfort food for her. We actually have an alert system based on her peanut butter consumption which rises depending on her hunger/stress level. Take for instance a peanut butter and jelly sandwich – that’s a code blue. She’s hungry and knows it is not the best decision, but it’s protein and easy to make, so it gets the job done. Sometimes on a day that’s been a bit stressful, she opts for a code yellow – a dish of peanut butter with some chocolate chips mixed in. She gets the great taste of peanut butter and chocolate which can lift anyone’s spirits in one easy serving. It’s a quick fix, in drug user terms. On rare occasion, we’ll hit a code orange Fluffernutter. That comes along when it’s been a particularly exhausting day, there is a strong hunger storm brewing with a sweet tooth front along the perimeter and the fridge is empty. A little Fluff and peanut butter is the answer. We’ve yet to hit a code red, but I can only imagine what that will bring. I always have a jar of peanut butter in stock just in case. It’s behind a “Break Glass in Case of Emergency” sign.
I’m kidding of course, although Lola does enjoy peanut butter. She loves a good PB & J sandwich. She’s always a fan of my peanut butter balls. I would also say that Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are one of her favorite candies too, which explains why she likes to enjoy a nice bowl of peanut butter with chocolate chips on occasion. I felt that to honor this holiday, it would be appropriate to make something peanut buttery for someone who loves peanut butter. So for lunch, I made Lola a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I make a good one too. We are a Skippy peanut butter house. I grew up in a Peter Pan house, but I think that was because it was probably cheaper. I’m not sure if I know the difference between the two in taste, but Lola who has a more distinguished palette, can tell so we always get Skippy. Creamy too. That choice could be my influence. I like crunchy peanut butter, but only on occasion. For every day use, it’s creamy all the way. I made the sandwich with strawberry jelly. Growing up, our house was exclusively a grape jelly family. Lola’s house would have other flavors like strawberry and raspberry, although Lola says they really didn’t have jelly in their house growing up that often. That came later in life. It was probably her Mom that went for the sweet taste of strawberry jelly, which is why Lola likes it too. I made the sandwich, cut it in half and gave her a nice lunch for Peanut Butter Lover’s Day. A quick side note: if you ever make a sandwich for someone, make sure you cut it in half, preferably at an angle. It’s that extra little touch you can add to let the sandwich eater know you cared.
I felt like I had to do a little more to truly celebrate this day, so I figured I should make something. Naturally I thought of my peanut butter balls which are always a big hit, but I felt I had to branch out a little and there are certainly a ton of recipes available that use peanut butter. I searched the blog of one of my faves, Sally’s Baking Addiction, and found a bunch of cookie recipes. Then I noticed one that not only called for a classic peanut butter cookie but was also served with a kiss which seemed appropriate for a day for lovers. I had pretty much everythingI needed to make the cookies except for the Hershey’s kisses, so I picked up a bag while I was running an errand at CVS. They were fancy Easter kisses which made no difference here because I had to unpeeled the wrappers off in order to use.
The cookies were super easy to make and the batter came together in no time. You had to chill the dough for about an hour, so I did that. Afterwards, I rolled the dough into little balls which you then roll into some granulated sugar. They go into the oven like that and in about ten minutes, when the tops begin to brown and crack, you take them out. As usual, you let the cookies cool, but with these cookies, after ten minutes, you gently push the chocolate kiss into the cookie so it sinks snuggly into the center. Then you have to put the cookies into the freezer for another ten minutes otherwise the kiss will melt (as chocolate will do when it is placed in something that was just inside a 350 degree oven). This presented a small issue because my sheet pans would not fit into our freezer which is a side by side unit and not very wide. I decided to transfer the cookies onto a jelly roll pan which would fit into the freezer and did. I had some good looking cookies after the ten minutes when I pulled them out.
I like peanut butter cookies, but they are never my first choice at a cookie buffet. They can be dry and they also give you that dry roof of your mouth peanut butter taste. They are pleasant on occasion, but not something you would scarf down. I suppose that’s how you are supposed to eat a cookie. I was always interested in these kind of cookies as a kid, naturally because there was a chocolate kiss on top. You’d eat the whole cookie to just get the kiss, and sometimes if no one was looking, you would just grab the kiss. We tried these fresh from the freezer and they were surprisingly still warm inside. In fact the chocolate was particularly melty too. They were refreshingly tasty. They were crumbly but not dry. In fact, they were more moist than your usual peanut butter cookie. I think that was because they were nice and thick, so the inside was not overcooked. The chocolate made it tastier too, but the kiss is really just ornamental. You can’t get a bite of the kiss in every bite of the cookie. At some point, the whole kiss is going in with one bite. That’s your marquis bite of the whole experience, but the cookie still holds up by itself.
Lola liked it, although when she ate it, she had recently finished a peanut butter and jelly sandwich so having more peanut butter at that moment was not a high priority for her. She did say the smell reminded her of her home economics class in high school when they baked peanut butter cookies. She even made the motion of making marks in the cookie with the back of a fork as you would for a non-kiss decorated peanut butter cookie. Again the power of smell over our subconscious reared its head. She instantly went to a spot in her brain from almost twenty years ago just by catching the aroma of peanut butter cookies. The smell of peanut butter cookies cooking is not a great one, at least in my opinion. It has a weird dryness to it with a faint aroma of peanut butter, but almost too much of a smell. It’s just not as homey as a chocolate chip cookie, at least by smell. I’m sure that’s what triggered Lola’s memory and brought her back to PHS. For the rest of the afternoon she was singing the Portsmouth Patriots fight song and asking me if I wanted to ditch and go smoke a butt out in the van. Go Patriots!
Today we honored not only peanut butter, one of the greatest foods ever to be processed from a legume, but also peanut butter lovers, those connoisseurs who delight in the sweet joy of the aforementioned buttery paste. Peanut butter is an important and distinguished food, so we are happy to give it two days too celebration. I’m sure there will be more occasions on this quest when Peanut Butter will drop in to say hello. That’s kind of peanut butter’s thing – to be there when we need it and to always have our back. And that’s why those of us who fancy the stuff, tend to truly love it and always will.
Next Up: National Banana Cream Pie Day