Thursday, July 21, 2011

peanut butter attack

I love when days surprise me. A day when I wanted peanut butter cookies for dinner, I ended up making a delicious and nutritious veggie stew.


Going into Friday, I did not have the most can-do of attitudes. Part of it was driving my dear boyfriend to the airport at 4:55am. Most of it, however, was anxiety. I am a worrier, as anyone who knows me can attest, and I worry about things that really don’t even need to be worried about.

For the camp (my Americorps position, which will finish in mid-August, entailed working in a school and afterschool program during the year, and in the summer we run a camp) we each got a week to plan. For our voyage-through-history theme, my week, this past week, was Ancient Greece (appropriate, eh?). Friday loomed large in my head because there were no fun things (swimming, field trips) to flesh out the day so it all came down to my planning. I had planned a 12 Labors of Hercules themed literary-water games-obstacle course extravaganza with an extraordinary amount of moving pieces (because I am apparently such a compulsive overachiever that I can’t even come up with a normal, easy, camp-y plan). I was stressed to a silly degree.

As ever, I tried to set a positive intention for the day (my mom introduced me to the idea of morning commute prayer- try it sometime! You’ll feel more kindly to your fellow drivers, too). I wanted good things for the kids, positive interactions with them. But yknow, I had my doubts. I frazzled my way through morning meeting, skipped my lunch break to powwow with our volunteers (who are an absolute godsend), chatted with our “middle school buddies” who are meant to be role models but are known to be a big high maintenance themselves.

BUT. It totally rocked! The whole day! The kids had a ton of fun with everything I had planned and they told me so, which was sweet. A child who is often nutso is clearly getting our good examples at least rubbed off in terms of imitation, because when he paused to read his story about the Hydra, he calmly surveyed the room and said, “I’m going to wait until everyone is listening.”

I know this is a lengthy tangent for a food blog, but the day meant something to me. I thought it’d be a day where I’d grit my teeth, suffer through it, and go home and eat peanut butter cookies for dinner. But it wasn’t! But there was a lot of peanut butter.

Let’s talk about this:


So this boy I love is sort of a rabid conservationist. Cannot stand waste of any kind. So earlier in the year, when we were still working at separate sites, his site got many many packs of sketchy-looking, iffy-tasting, individually packaged peanut butter. Everyone else was set to throw them out, but Steve (do you see where this is going?) stepped in and said, “I’ll take them!”

So… whole lot of peanut butter. Fortunately for Steve, I was craving (like you would NOT BELIEVE) peanut butter cookies, so took a few packs home. (Well, he tried to foist the whole bag on me. When I returned it, his face was unbelievably crestfallen.)

I started with a sensible dinner: I have been super into African vegetable stew lately. Well, “African”. Meaning... I added peanut butter! But let's get started with the "vegetable" part of this stew.

Sauteed green onion (I have SO MUCH GREEN ONION RIGHT NOW)


Then added some garlic and jalapeno


Some fresh local green beans went in and got all blistery and flavor-coated…


Meantime roasted some eggplant on super hot heat til it got soft in the middle (I’m just over sauteeing eggplant. You either have to use 3 cups of oil because it absorbs so much, or if you just use a little it’s dry and flavorless on the outside. So I only roast now).


Then for liquid and more veggie goodness, more local tomatoes. And then, of course, the peanut butter! I added one of those packs, which is 3-4 tablespoons.


I cooked all that stewy goodness, covered, til everything was tender (20-30 minutes?). Then final seasoning- I added lots of Texas Pete’s vinegary hot sauce, a splash of apple cider vinegar, more cumin, and the surprising ingredient that totally pulled it all together- soy sauce!

Plated up with some lovely brown rice.


So anyway… I still made peanut butter cookies :D

There’s just so much peanut butter! And sometimes you just need cookies.

Sometimes I cannot believe I own a cookie scoop because it seems like one of those Pampered Chef things designed for people who never ever cook. But, my godmother, who’s an R.D. who’s worked in all these interesting settings, and who’s also a dessert fiend, recommended them. And I have never looked back. They are awesome.


When I think peanut-butter-based-baked-good, I think of Carrots ‘N Cake. So I went there. And sure enough, found a variety of choices, ultimately going for Flourless Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies. “Cept I didn’t have softened butter, just rock hard, so I used oil instead. And used stevia baking mix instead of sugar. And added vanilla and cinnamon, cause it felt right. Oh and using the scoop meant I got more like 15 instead of a dozen.

Anyway, they looked adorably goofy when they came out of the oven (I learned my lesson and squooshed them down on the second half, which I ended up slightly regretting since the yummiest part of the cookie was the soft and slightly gooey part in the middle)


As for the taste? It had only a little sugar and I used even less of the stevia baking mix (cause that stuff is usually SO sweet). So it really wasn’t that cookie-y. BUT, it totally hit my spot for the craving. And the oats on the inside got this really awesome texture. And you got nuttiness in every bite and it was weirdly filling and satisfying for what was sposed to be a dessert. So cheers all around, I say.


And so ended Friday.


Anonymous said...

I am going to have eggplant running out of my ears in about three weeks! I can't wait! ...The husband will have to learn to love the stuff, I already do. I'm not all that hot at roasting it. How hot is your oven?... All those veggies are to-die-for!

Steven Alexander Heathcliff Basil Bert said...

I love when cookies stay just a touch doughy on the inside after baking. Yum-pa-pa-pum.

Also, I've been eating peanut butter everything all week. (As I kind of have been the last three or four months.) Please let me know if you have any other peanut butter inspirations. My heart would dance the tango-mucho-amor-para-ti.

Jess said...

That vegetable stew looks amazing!!

I need to try eggplant again soon!!