Resisting Tentation

We don’t get the crisp, leaf-changing Septembers that happen more northernly. We get hot, humid, dog days until it stops. Well, this week, it stopped. There was an actual nip in the air some mornings. It got down into the SEVENTIES! (Chill, yankees. That’s cold here.)

It made me want to make something fall-esque. And easy. But I couldn’t make up my mind, so I went out seeking inspiration. I passed up the gorgeous selection of pumpkins — that’s too fall. Plus, pumpkin everything is already EVERYWHERE!

I know. It’s a meme I found online. But seriously: pumpkin chai latte, pumpkin coffee, pumpkin scones, pumpkin bread…and that’s just at Starbucks!!!

Strawberries abound, but they’re always in season. Frankly, I’ll trade that in for all the multi-colored foliage in the world. But the apples were out. I smelled them as I walked past. Like in those old cartoons. The aroma vapors wafted over and seduced my nose over to them and filled my sinuses with inspiration.

Apple butter.

As a kid, that was my favorite spread. I loved the stuff. Even the old store-bought Bama apple butter in the cartoon-printed glasses that you could collect and drink juice from later. How awesome were those, by the way? Just wonderful. My favorite things in the world to drink from.

So I grabbed some Galas because, well, I love Gala apples. Just the right combo of texture, taste, and crunch. Plus, I’m a fan of the “if you won’t eat or drink it plain, don’t cook with it” adage. But I wanted a blend of apples, so I browsed. Honeycrisp? Nah. More for eatin’. Jonagold? Nah? Not my favs. Granny Smith? Nah. For pies. Then I came across…Tentation.

There weren’t many of them. They took up a skinny bin in the middle of all the other varieties. They looked a bit battered. A little sad. But they smelled like apple-y heaven. Tentation. The name said it all. I couldn’t resist. And so I bought some.

It’s no secret that I love the recipes from Food in Jars. Marisa comes up with some miraculous stuff. Since I had a Lazy Sunday of grading projects in store for me, I figured that I could deal with a lovely batch of her applesauce and then apple butter blorping away on the stove.

9:30 a.m. It begins.

First things: prep the apples. I like to half them then scoop the seeds out with a melon baller. Quite efficient and not much waste.

Chop in half…

…melon ball…

…for minimal apple carnage! This is ALL the leftovers from my 8 pounds of apples.

After that (according to Marisa), quarter them and simmer them with water or apple cider. Remove the skins when they’re soft enough, then simmer until they’re the texture you want.

While the apples were simmering, Big Dog was intrigued by the smells. She likes her some apples.

Apples, please, mama?

(later…)

After about two hours, the apples were soft and lovely and perfect. I know that the recipe calls for fishing out the apple skins with tongs, but that smacks of effort, and effort is the thing I avoid on Lazy Sundays. So I pulled out the trusty old food mill and ran it through and spiced the result with some Ceylon cinnamon (shout out to Penzey’s Spices!) and grated half a nutmeg into it. A scant one cup of sugar and sweet apple perfection.

Easy peasy removal of skins. Plus, the pups got the apple leavins as a consolation prize for being banished outside.

In fact, that stage of the recipe tasted so amazing that some of it ended up in a pint jar just to be applesauce for me before letting the rest blorp away into glorious apple butterness.

(much, much later…)

4:00 p.m. update: Almost apple butter. It’s getting denser and caramel-colored. Still smells like heaven. Perhaps it’ll be finished by the time I go to bed…

6:10 and it’s done. Check this out:

Tastes astounding, looks like baby spew.

I filled about 3/4 of a quart jar. Yes, it’s all for me. No, I didn’t process it. I promise that it won’t go bad. In fact, it’ll probably be gone within the week. Or by the end of tonight if I can’t resist the Tentations. Or the Galas.

Sincerely,

Bonnycate

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The Stink of Success

Recently, Nikki T. shared with me information about a product she found called PB2. Dehydrated roasted peanuts. Yum, right? 85% less fat than ordinary, hydrated ones. Oh, YUM. Low-fat foods are always so AMAZING. (end sarcasm here…)

Yick.

But part of me was intrigued. Especially when I checked it out online. People raved about the stuff. It wasn’t, however, easily obtained anywhere near me, and peanut powder didn’t possess the persuasive powers necessary to compel me to purchase it through the internet. And I thought that was the end of it.

Until I visited my local HEB and found this on the end of an aisle:

So I brought some home.

It’s been sitting on the counter for a while now, waiting for me to hit the appropriate combination of inspiration and desperation for something peanutty. That perfect storm hit today.

I hit the internet and found on the PB2 website some recipes, settling on Chewy PB2 Cookies. Looked easy enough. And 50 calories each? Oh, SO worth the effort. I hoped…

So. Mixed up all the drys in a bowl. The PB2 was aromatic and roasty smelling. Nice…but there was something lurking. An aftersmell that I couldn’t place. But not bad…

Dried, roasty, peanutty powder chunks.

Then with the wets…

Looking peanut butterier…

Still nice. Thick and sticky…and that aftersmell got a bit stronger. Still not bad. Still couldn’t place it, though. After adding the flour, things didn’t gel…had to spritz in more water. And more…

Finally, a dough appeared. But it was sticky. STICKY. Stickier than just regular peanut butter. I tried to do the cute and ubiquitous criss-cross fork pattern in one and got this:

No cute criss-cross here.

After several sticky failures, I sprayed up the fork with some cooking oil and got what I was looking for…sort of.

Crissed and crossed and shiny slick

Chucked them in the oven for ten minutes, and that aftersmell grew. It blossomed and floated about and finally I realized it. Chickpeas. There’s a definite dried, cooking chickpea-ish aroma in this stuff. Not unpleasant, but not what you’re looking for in cookies.

Out of the oven, they were pretty and puffy.

Fluffy and puffy. Don’t poke them…

I couldn’t shift them off the Silpat for about thirty minutes. Just too puffy and delicate. Poked one to test it and it deflated.

When cooled, they were…okay. A bit crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside with a nice texture and tasty, roasty, peanutty flavor. Passable for peanut butter cookies. Pretty amazing for low-fat peanut butter cookies, though. So a success!

Not sure where to go now.

Peanut butter frosting? Oh. Yeah.

Sincerely,

Bonnycate