Day 244 – National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day

When I would bring my lunch to school (which was almost every day), my sandwich of choice was the peanut butter sandwich, no jelly. It would be on white bread – usually Pepperidge Farm but sometimes Arnold’s if it was on sale. The peanut butter would be Peter Pan. Sometimes it would get all scrunched up in the bag depending on if it had a run in with with one of my text books and more often than not, it would be stuck to the inside of the sandwich baggie it was kept in. I found that if I bought a bag of potato chips, the combo of the chips and the peanut bitter was exquisite. I think I would also get a milk from the cafeteria line, although the thought of milk in little cartons from the lunch ladies makes me gag, so I’m not sure when I stopped that part of the routine. It was a good sandwich and did its job of keeping me full for the second part of the school day. But never with jelly. For some reason, I just didn’t like jelly on that sandwich.

If you were making me toast, well, that was a a different story. If the bread was toasted, then I craved the peanut butter and jelly combo. Maybe it was the way that the peanut butter would get melty on top of the warm bread and the coolness of the jelly would balance that out with some sweetness. I loved it. I would eat it open faced so the PB & J was right on top. It was the perfect accompaniment to a morning of cartoons. Even in my adult years, I have been known to have a piece of toast with peanut butter and jelly – a throwback meal to my youth.

I’ve said this before, but Lola has been known to have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich from time to time. Sometimes after she’s been writing all day and is in that weird spot of not knowing what to eat, not being all that interested in eating and yet still hungry, she will turn to her old favorite. On rare occasion, she will wake up in the middle of the night and in the midst of an insomnia filled overnight, she will make herself a PB & J. It just hits her right – a comfort to calm her soul. Then of course she’ll fall asleep and I get the sweet smell of peanut butter gently blowing in my face for the rest of the night (which is not a bad thing).  In short, I’m no stranger to making PB & Js. In fact, I made one for Lola last week.

I had one for lunch today in celebration. I figured that was the proper way to celebrate this day and even though I prefer mine on toast, I went traditional. I have two tips for anyone making a PB & J. First, after you spread the peanut butter on the bread, take a paper towel and wipe your knife clean with it. This removes the chunks of peanut butter before you fully clean it. Otherwise, if you use a sponge, your sponge basically becomes peanut butter scented for the rest of its life. It just makes clean up a bit easier and tidier. The second pointer is that when you spread the jelly, use a spoon. My mom taught me this and it was a good life lesson. Jelly is pretty hard to remove from a jar with just a knife. The spoon lets you get a big scoop of jelly and spread it around. It’s the right utensil.  I am a big believer that the portion of peanut butter should be slightly higher than jelly in a PB & J. Peanut butter should be spread across the entirety of both slices of bread and then Jelly spread atop that but you shouldn’t try for complete coverage. I read somewhere that you should form a little wall of peanut butter around the edges of the bread that allows for the jelly to stay within the confines of the PB, but that gets complicated. Just keep your jelly away form the edges and you should be fine. I cut mine into quarters, just for nostalgia sake. For some reason, when you were a kid, sandwiches were always better when they were cut into quarters.

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Not much I can tell you here that you don’t already know. It was delicious. I used wheat bread because that was what we had in house, but it was still good. I had good balance between the peanut butter and the jelly. I woofed it down in a few minutes. I know the 12 year old version of me would push this aside, but the adult version enjoyed it. Jelly is ok in my book in this form. I wondered if kids still took peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to school for lunch? I know my nephew is allergic to peanuts, so that was never an option for him or his family. Plus I know schools have to take actions in their cafeterias to help keep the area safe for those with allergies. But it would be a shame if this disappeared from the standard kid lunch. I think it builds character. I actually heard from a few people on my Instagram account that they still celebrate PB & J day every day, so that’s hopeful. Maybe the PB & J will survive for more generations.

As a professional celebrator, I felt that just eating a PB & J to honor this day was a little lame, so I looked for some other way to celebrate. I found my answer in Peanut Butter and Jelly Peanut Butter Cups. These are like homemade Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups just with jelly added in to make them PB & J.  That piqued my interest. I was pretty sure I knew that a peanut butter and chocolate cup would be delicious, but how would it be with jelly? Do jelly and chocolate go together? We would see. The recipe I found was from someone called Texanerin Baking and it looked fairly easy. The author was a self-described baking obsessed Texan and I have found that Texans are usually pretty reliable when it comes to cooking. It was kind of a time consuming process, although easy. First you melt your chocolate with some coconut oil and then you add that to a muffin pan that has been lined with baking cups. You put it in the fridge to chill then after an hour you add a peanut butter mixture on top of the chocolate and then a little scoop of jelly atop that. It goes back in the fridge for another hour and then you top each cup with the rest of the chocolate that you have reheated. When you are done, you let it chill for two hours. When they are sufficiently chilled, they pop right out of the muffin pan and you just have to peel off the wrapper just like you would have to do for a Reese’s cup. They came out pretty nice.

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Lola walked into the kitchen when I was making dinner and I could tell she was hungry but dinner still had a half hour to go before it would be ready. I decided to see if she wanted one and she did. It would be a good little snack to tide her over. I warned her there was jelly inside because I think you have to warn people about something like that. It’s not something you would expect in chocolate. She bit in and let it dissolve in her mouth. A look of bliss washed over her face; her eyes still closed as she thought about the tastes in her mouth. She was a fan. In truth, she would have preferred it without the jelly, but the jelly wasn’t bad. It just gave it that chocolate cordial feeling – moist, fruit flavor inside a chocolate. The peanut butter and chocolate were just good by themselves. She was excited because I had made her a homemade Reese’s and even though this one had jelly, she knew the future meant that I could make regular ones. Lola sees the future. Still, these cups were good. They gave you the delight of PB & J wrapped inside some sweet chocolate and the tastes do go together. It was a nice treat. After dinner, as we were watching the season finale of Big Little Lies, Lola had another one with a cup of peppermint tea and she enjoyed it again.

Peanut butter and jelly deserves our celebration for all the simple pleasures it brings into our lives. It’s been there for us our whole lives. It fueled a whole generation through the rigors of school and beyond. It’s there for us whenever we face that ‘what am I going to eat’ dilemma. And it’s there for us when we are just craving the joy and deliciousness it is guaranteed to deliver. Few things go together better than peanut butter and jelly. It is a match made in food heaven and we are glad they met each other. Today I got to enjoy a PB & J for lunch that delivered exactly what I was looking for – something quick, something easy and something I didn’t have to think too much about. I just grabbed the bread, peanut butter and jelly, a knife and a spoon, and had my sandwich. And it was delicious. I also got to make something new which was a special treat and also unlocked the key to some possible future deliciousness (I sense some peanut butter cups coming for Easter). All in all, that’s a pretty good day and we can chock another win up to the PB & J. Whoops, gotta go, the 6th period bell just rang.

Next Up: National Chocolate Mousse Day 

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