“You got white chocolate on my peanut butter!”

19 02 2011

Some days, I feel like a curmudgeonly old man in a 19-year-old woman’s body.

Is that weird? That’s weird, huh?

Well, fine. Not quite, then. But when I look back over some of my more sarcastic blog posts, I feel like I’m two steps away from yelling at the neighbor’s snot-nosed kids to get off my lawn. Maybe that’s what happens after you eat enough green pepper jelly and beet cookies.

So today, I’m getting in touch with my inner eight-year-old for a change.

When I was a kid, my absolute favorite food in the whole wide world was peanut butter sandwiches. Not peanut butter and jelly … just good ol’ peanut butter on wheat bread, spread nice and thick. (I only ate jelly in the form of Goober, and that was only because the stripes were too cool not to eat.)

Peanut butter sandwiches (no jelly, please and thank you) are still a favorite snack, especially now that my life consists of going to school, coming home and having 10 minutes to eat, and then dashing off to work or whatever else I happen to have going on. Peanut butter sandwiches are a classic.

I never thought I’d find anything terribly out-of-the-ordinary in the peanut butter aisle. Until I actually looked, that is.

I dragged my boyfriend with me on my food-searching adventure this time, mostly because he’s the kind of person who thinks things like clam juice are perfectly normal. He’s that balancing factor when I’m deciding what to blog about. As open-minded as he is about food, I know of at least one thing he really can’t stand: white chocolate.

So when I spotted a jar of white chocolate peanut butter and picked it up and showed it to him, his facial expression can only be described as priceless. Well, that and utter disgust.

Personally, I’m a big white chocolate fan. In fact, I love those white chocolate Reese’s — they’re one of my favorite kinds of candy. But seeing white-chocolate-flavored peanut butter took me back to my high school days.

See, there was this kid at lunch who, almost without fail, would always bring chocolate peanut butter sandwiches. He literally spread peanut butter on once slice of white bread, then took the other slice and drizzled a heaping amount of Hershey’s syrup onto it. By the time lunch rolled around, the syrup had soaked into the bread. I could never decide if this was absolutely revolting or absolutely wonderful, until the day he offered me a bite and I tried it for myself.

I will never forget that horrendous moment. I don’t think I ate anything involving Hershey’s syrup for a very long time after that.

So when I saw the white chocolate peanut butter, my mind wrestled with my instincts. My mind told me it would be good, like those Reese’s cups. My instincts told me that this was nasty lunch sandwich, Take 2, and I should stay far away.

My mind won out. Kind of. It was really more that sick curiosity  — the one that compels me to watch horror movies and regret it later.

The outside of the jar (can I even call it a jar, since it’s plastic?) says, “Try me with pears.” I hated to disobey, but I don’t have any pears and didn’t think to actually read the jar — er, jar-ish thing — before leaving the store. So instead, I tried it the good, old-fashioned way: on a piece of wheat bread.

The peanut butter had an oily, kind of grainy consistency, which is pretty consistent — no pun intended — with natural peanut butters. (Since this was, after all, “no-stir natural” peanut butter. It’d better be, with the arm, leg and firstborn child I paid in exchange for the measly 16-ounce container.)

It smelled just like regular peanut butter, with no hint of white chocolate. But smells can be deceiving. I spread a generous amount on a slice of bread, lifted it to my mouth, and took a bite.

I was immediately transported back to that fateful lunch period in junior high, and I almost wanted to cry.

But once I pushed past the memory that the disturbingly sickly sweet taste brought to mind, I started to realize that this stuff actually tastes really, really good.

It doesn’t quite taste like white chocolate Reese’s, I’m sorry to say. But the sweetness of the white chocolate balanced out the nuttiness of the natural peanut butter quite nicely.

I wouldn’t recommend eating it in a sandwich, especially not with jelly. (And that’s not just because I don’t like jelly.) It’s a little (er, a lot) too sweet for that. But I can imagine it tasting good on pears, like the … jar thing … recommends, and it would probably be pretty yummy on graham crackers as a quasi-healthy snack.

Oh, and the best part? Speaking of quasi-healthy, the peanut butter is made with evaporated cane juice. There’s no Sucralose in this one — not this time.


Ingredients: Peanuts, evaporated cane juice, vanilla, cocoa butter, palm fruit oil, lecithin (from sunflowers) and salt.
Price: $4.49 at Fry’s Marketplace.
Kinda like a Reese’s. Kinda. Plus it’s all-natural and has a refreshingly short ingredients list.
Cons: Junior-high lunches involving chocolate syrup and peanut butter sandwiches.

Not exactly strawberry jam

5 09 2010

It looked like something that had come out of the neighbor boy’s nose. Lots of it. In a jar.

Definitely irresistible.

If it’s sitting on a shelf in the food section of the grocery store, it must be edible, right?  (Except those tuna strainers they sometimes have hanging in the canned meat aisle. Don’t eat those.) This stuff was located in the jelly aisle right between the apple butter and the apricot jam.  How bad could it be?

But…green sludge. In a jar. My mind and my gag reflex had a wrestling match for a few minutes, and in the end, my mind won out. I bought it.

Now the dilemma: how to eat it. The label said “green pepper jelly” (which, by the way, seems like a complete oxymoron to me), but I had my doubts about smearing it on a slice of bread with some peanut butter. So I referred back to the trusty label.

“Suggested uses: May be spread over or mixed with cream cheese for a wonderful hors d’oeuvre. Use as a glaze over meat, poultry or fish. Great on hot biscuits.”

Since I was trying to get as much of the original flavor as I could without eating the jelly straight out of the jar (I have my limits), I decided to go for the hot biscuit option. Unfortunately, I don’t keep many hot biscuits lying around, so I improvised with the poor man’s biscuit: a toasted bagel.

I opened the jar and gave the jelly a curious sniff. It wasn’t even a big sniff – but it was all that I needed. That jelly was strong stuff. And it didn’t really smell “wonderful” or “great”…more along the lines of my-cat-tried-eating-grass-again-and-obviously-it-didn’t-work-for-her. But I’m not one to judge a book by its cover.

So I spread a healthy amount of jelly on the bagel, pushed any thoughts of cat vomit from my mind, and took a bite.

1 second of chewing: Hmm, this doesn’t really taste like anyth–

I can still taste it. Even now, an hour later, I can still taste it. I will never eat again.

It was spicy. And make no mistake, I like spicy food…if it also tastes good. But this wasn’t just spicy – it was sweet. And that’s just as much of an oxymoron as “green pepper jelly.” I probably should have expected it, but considering that my taste buds are still in shock, I obviously didn’t.

While I was busy trying to wake up my taste buds by washing the flavor down with soda, my biology-student sister walked into the room. “It smells like a dissection,” she announced before she’d even come near the jar of jelly. Yeah, I thought. Something like that. (I would have voiced my agreement, but my tongue was in shock, remember?)

Who exactly came up with this stuff? Did some farmer, somewhere, plant green peppers next to his strawberries, and when it came time to make strawberry jam, did he think, “Ah, what the heck, let’s throw some of these peppers in a pot and dump some sugar in”? I honestly don’t know.

What I do know is that there are plenty of recipes out there for the jelly. One site in particular suggests giving it as a Christmas gift because of its color. Now I know what to get Great-Aunt Marge in revenge for last year’s fruitcake.

The Food Network gives a five-star recipe for green pepper jelly, and another site suggests pepper jelly and cream cheese sandwiches as an apparent spin-off of the ol’ PB&J.  Bon appetit.

The bottom line is this: I know now that I will probably never eat anything involving green pepper jelly, especially not a bagel. But it’s food, and it’s probably edible…and someone, somewhere, likes it.


Ingredients: High fructose corn syrup, water, green bell peppers, apple cider vinegar, cane sugar, pectin, citric acid, minced onion, capsicum and green food color.
Price: $2.87 at Wal-Mart
Pros: Green is a pretty color.
Cons: Odd spicy-but-sweet flavor; not any more appetizing than its appearance would suggest. Might be good with cream cheese, but I say leave the cream cheese alone.

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