Thursday, December 29, 2005

peanut butter, buttered peanuts

peanut butter has become something less than it once was. real peanut butter- like you can have freshly ground for you at whole foods- is just peanuts. but people have been eating skippy & the like for so long that they want sweet, fat, salty peanut butter. because that is what is in skippy- sugar, shortening, and salt.

wherever you live, if you look hard enough you can find bulk peanuts for sale. shelled, roasted, unsalted are best, and i am sure you can get them, even organic.

these are potential peanut butter.

spread as many as you can on a cookie sheet and warm them in the oven. the lowest setting will work, maybe 10 minutes.

fill your food processor with them, grind them to desired smoothness. if you want crunchy, add a handful of whole peanuts at the end and let them grind just a little.

it may take a long time to get it as smooth as you like it, especially if the nuts werent hot.

once it is ready, pour/ paddle it into clean mason jars and seal. keeping this in cold storage is a good idea- the fridge. if you cant do that, add salt to the processor stage to taste. salt will help it keep.

that is real peanut butter. and it is really good!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

our favorite borscht (beet soup!)

we call this soup borscht in our house, but i am aware it is not like much of the borscht out there. it is a beef-based soup, and i like to keep in that way, but the vegetarian, vegan, or simply without-beef chef could leave that out.


beef. i used to use a whole tri-tip roast, cut into 1" x 2" strips across the grain. i have been known to substitute just about anything. ground beef to steaks. good, natural beef stock will do. why, just today i made it with soup bones and nothing else.

onions. 3 or 4. red, white, or yellow.

beets. whole, 3 or 4 large ones, more if you're feeling beety. tops on is always best, but it isnt the end of the world if they dont have tops.

root vegetables. carrots, celery root, radishes, parsnips, turnips, potatoes, any and all of these. at least 2 of them.

spices: like salt, pepper and bay leaves. oh wait, that is all you need!

garlic. deserves its own entry. a whole head please. ok if you dont have it or arent a garlic lover, whatever!

extra credit: an apple or pear. have one around? chop her up and drop her in. you'll be amazed!

dressing. sour cream and fresh dill.

making the soup.

brown the beef in a little oil in the bottom of your big soup pot. add onions and garlic, brown. add water or stock (If not using meat you would begin with water and add onions/ garlic to the plain water/ stock.) dump in everything else, peeled (if required) and chopped, even the beet tops. if you have some celery laying around that would be nice. any greens you enjoy will fit well in this soup. (especially the beet tops!)

i want to mention here, based on personal failure, that you really do want to peel your vegetables. most of the root vegetables (turnips, celery root, parsnip, etc) you get in the store have very tough skins that you do not want in your soup! organic carrots, radishes, and potatoes are the only exception.)

boil/ simmer as long as you feel like waiting. all day is fine. i usually cook my soup for 3 hours.

once finished, check spices for salt and so on. pour in bowls, add a generous dollop of sour cream and finish with freshly chopped dill. yum!