Posted by: briellethefirst | June 7, 2014

Peanut Butter And Jelly

PB&J innards

Inside the PB&J

The simplest things are the best! And SO versatile! I could live on PB&J. It was a staple in my school lunches, then my kids had it in their lunches. For years I started my workdays off with crunchy peanut butter and blackberry jam on buttered pumpernickel bread. Other people in the office tried it…and liked it. Yes, I’m a bad influence.

PB&J on Pumpernickel

PB&J on Pumpernickel

I usually start making my sandwich by spreading the bread with butter. The simple explanation is that that’s how Dad did it. A little more background is that once upon a time, not so long ago, almost all sandwiches started this way. The butter kept any juicy fillings from making the bread soggy.

It seems so plain, but given the chance PB&J can soar to haute cuisine. Usually the PB dilemma is whether to use creamy or crunchy. I like either and have both on hand for picky grand-kids. Some things like sauces might be better with creamy and those days when you just want an extra crunch then crunchy is nice to have around. Then there are other nut butters to try, like almond, walnut and cashew. If they aren’t in the peanut butter section you can try making your own. One decadent option is hazelnut spread, usually made with chocolate, so it’s almost like desert! Spread it on strawberries for a heavenly special treat or put a dab on a small shortbread cookie and top it with a piece of strawberry or a raspberry for sweet appetizers or delectable desert.

I grew up eating grape jelly but now I usually use Blackberry preserves. Strawberry is another favourite. Try Apricot jam, apple butter, raspberry jam… home-made or from the store, there are enough options to keep you from getting bored anytime soon! Switching out jams and jellies aren’t the only ways to add variety to your lunch (or breakfast). Dad used to make PB&Honey sandwiches. Mom used to eat PB&Bananas. Raisins are good and so are apple or pear slices. Sliced melon is great, too. Berries can be used whole if they’re small enough, or you can cut grapes and strawberries in half. It’s a great way to get more fruit into your diet. If you have some nice fresh herbs in the garden you can even try a few leaves tucked in for even more variety.

While nomming on peanut butter straight from the jar by the spoonful is tempting, it usually needs a vehicle to officially count as a meal. Bread of some sort is the norm. White sandwich bread is probably the norm, but I prefer whole wheat. Rye is yummy, pumpernickel is fabulous and sourdough is sublime. When we were kids Dad would cut pita bread in 1/2 and spread peanut butter on one side of the inside of the pocket and jelly on the other. When I ran out of bread before payday I used hamburger and hot dog buns or french rolls. I’ve even spread PB&J on

Tortilla PB&J

Tortilla PB&J

tortillas and rolled them up.

All rolled up

All rolled up

French bread, thinly sliced, that’s been spread with butter and dried in a warm oven til it’s delicately crunchy makes lovely open-faced sandwiches. Crackers are also a great way to enjoy your favourite spreads. Dad often had peanut butter on buttery round crackers with a dab of jelly on top for desert.

I was always in a hurry and one day Mom caught me making a PB&J for breakfast. We had a ‘discussion’ about what was appropriate breakfast food, determined that toast was OK, so I made toast, put peanut butter on one, jelly on another, slapped them together and ran out the door. Mom was bemused. Yes, I’ve always been a bit of a problem child.

Oh…unless you’re running out the door, late for school or work, at some point you will probably want or need to cut your sandwich. If you made it in a pita then it’s already cut. If you made it on a tortilla or other flat bread then it’s rolled up and you don’t really need to cut it to fit it into your mouth, but you can cut it into sushi-like sections. When making a regular sandwich on regular bread, the big question is: (drum-roll) do you cut it straight, into 2 rectangles, or do you cut it diagonally into triangles?


Classic triangles

If you really want to be fancy you can cut the 2 pieces into 4 pieces, especially if you’re making them for your very favourite kids or putting them out as a fun alternative at brunch or tea.

When making finger sandwiches for special events (finger sandwiches are what we call the small sandwiches we snack on at posh events) a fun alternative is to keep buttering pieces of bread and stack the fillings and bread slices 3 or 4 high, then just cut them into stripey long sections. This can be a really fun addition to the sandwich plate. And the really HUGE question is: do we cut off the crust? Of course not! You want curly hair, don’t you? Unless your hair is already curly, then go crust-less if you want.

What goes with PB&J? Milk of course! But juice, soda or fruity coloured drink mix stuff is yummy, too. Some chips on the side and a couple of cookies or brownies for desert make a great end to a perfect comfort meal.

A really nice thing about all this is how simple it is to make. All you need is a knife. You don’t even need a plate! You can make it on a napkin or paper towel and have less to wash up after! Even a little kid can do it! What more could a busy parent ask for? Well, maybe putting everything back and wiping the counter when you’re done, but all the best kids do that no matter how old we are!

Note: I’ll add pictures as they become available.


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