Upgrade Your Comfort Foods: Peanut Butter and Jelly
Look, we know you’re broke. We’re all broke but you just look silly sitting there with your Kirkland Brand Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches. Sure, it’s a comfort food, but you know what? The “PB&J as comfort food” thing is basically like replacing all the posters in your apartment with pictures of your mother. It’s kind of creepy and you look like a Norman Bates-caliber mama’s boy. You’ve probably got some kind of money making enterprise, so you’ve obviously grown up a little bit, why not let your foodstuffs grow up with you? Over the next couple weeks, we’ll bring you some easy ways to jazz up some of those old standbys. Since we’re on the subject of PB&J already, let’s start there. Obviously there are only a few ingredients to work with here, so let’s break it down:
Peanut Butter: I can already hear the backlash, “but Andrew, the only way to upgrade a PB&J is to buy more expensive bread! and more expensive jams! and something weird like almond butter! and we’re broke!” FALSE. You know why you go through that whole tub of Kirkland Peanut Butter in a week? No, it’s not because you’re stoned all the time, it’s because that shit’s pretty lame. I reckon it’s about 25% peanut-matter and 75% uncolored playdough. Upgrade your peanut butter to something tastier and you’ll find yourself using less of it per sandwich.
Bread Options: Also, that wonderbread you’re still buying? Yeah, that’s crap too. I had a friend in college who would only make quadruple-decker (or taller!) PB&Js because even the triple stopped working for him. (You know your friend deserves an intervention when he’s stacking up an 8-ball of Jif.) Standard wheat is great for sandwiches and is certainly more flavorful that soggy white bread, but I like to get the sourdough that comes in the big, round loaves. Not only does it cost roughly the same as a loaf of cheap wheat bread, but when you get to the slices in the middle they’re twice as long so it’s like you get two slices. Bonus! It also makes me feel decidedly more “San Franciscan” and smells nice when you take it out of the toaster. PRO-TIP: Always toast your sandwiches. And slice on the diagonal to avoid Cap’n Crunch Mouth.
Jam: Make friends with some hippies that live in Marin or Vermont because they always have random berries growing in their backyard and they love putting it in jars and giving it away. Seriously, I have a jam guy.
Failing that, don’t be afraid to spring for the fancy jams with French names or even something from your local farmer’s market. I know it may seem like a crappy deal on the per-ounce price, but honestly smuckers is mostly gelatin anyway, so it evens out. Like the peanut butter, a little bit of handmade jam goes a lot farther than smearing what is basically grape jello on your toast. (The anti-gelatin vegans are way ahead of you on this one, by the way.) This also opens the door for a lot of fun flavors that you may not have considered. Personally, I’ve been on an apricot kick lately.
Peanut Butter Alternatives: Some people just don’t enjoy the sticky, smacky consistency of peanut butter, and that’s fine because once again this opens the door to a couple alternatives. Like: yogurt. You can buy the fancy Greek kind at Costco in economical tubs. (Have your roommate with a membership bring you.) Toast a piece of sourdough, slather some of that on there and top it off with your favorite jam and you’ll look positively bohemian. If you’re not down with yogurt then cream cheese or some other soft, sweet cheese will work too. I hear good things about cottage cheese too, but that’s not really my jam. Any of these would go great with coffee for breakfast, or paired up with a cheap chardonnay for dessert. Look at you, all fancied up!
Be sure to tune in next week, when we’ll be taking a look at how to upgrade your mac & cheese without getting the blue box blues.