Monthly Archives: June 2009

Peanut butter… uh, peanut butter time.

We tried a few peanut butters here but nothing even holds a candle to Adam’s/Laura Scudder’s natural peanut butters. Which of course we can’t get here. It’s a Smucker’s brand so no presence down under. Everything either has sugar or emulsifiers in it, and the natural food store peanut butters have no salt and aren’t quite oily/spreadable enough for our tastes.

Sad us.

So I got the bright idea to make my own. We can get peanuts (salted-roasted and very tasty) at the bulk store for around $9/kg. So $4.50ish a pound. Ehh. It’s ok. This peanut butter isn’t actually significantly cheaper, or more expensive for that matter, than what we can buy in the store. It just tastes waaaaay better.

You will need:

Peanuts!

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I bought a lot this time. 3kg! We have some left over for next time. I possibly used about half of what I bought.

Peanut oil

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I’d estimate for the amount of peanut butter I made I used around 1 cup of oil? That would put it at around 1/4 cup per jar batch? Not entirely sure since I just pour it in…

A food processor

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You can see I thought of taking pictures after I had already started…

So here is what you do.

Take your container you plan to keep your peanut butter in. Fill it with peanuts.

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This is a 500gm (1 poundish) jar. This is pretty much the biggest jar peanut butter comes in around here. Crazy!

Empty two containers full into your food processor

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I have a little food processor (it’s a blender food processor combo. Note: a blender will also work for making peanut butter but will be a bit trickier to deal with), and I can fit 2 jars of peanuts into it. Add some peanut oil and start blending.

You can add the oil before you start (and you should add some before you start) or after you start blending it. You don’t want soup and in fact your peanut butter should start piling to one side and looking like this after a minute or two of blending:

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This means it’s done. If you want crunchy peanut butter with actual chunks you can chop some peanuts and mix them into this by hand. Personally, although I am a huge fan of the crunchy stuff I find this consistency just fine.

I made this much today

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These little jars (Sanitarium brand, yes that’s really the name of the company!) originally ran us about $4-5 at the store and the peanut butter tasted vaguely of Crisco due to emulsifiers (no stir additives). This amount is about 2kg of peanut butter and will last us a few months.

There was much finger licking involved in the production of this post.

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V for….toad-in-the-hole

Or egg in a basket or whatever you want to call it. I tend to think of it as V-for-Vendetta food. Since I feel a teeny bit revolutionary lately (watching Iran, I even sent some youtube links to graphic videos to the NZ Herald. Madness!) I made some.

Nomnomnom

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Olive oil, bread, egg. Combine, cook, eat.

The eggs here are interesting as 1. they aren’t stored in the fridge in the stores, (something to do with certain pathogens not carried by the chickens here) 2. the yolks are bright orange. Like the color of a carrot. Mainly because the chickens get a decent diet. and 3. the eggs tend to be random sizes and shell colors (not often white) but are smaller than US eggs. Once again, lack of factory farming ftw.

I realized I don’t have recipes or even plans for most of what I eat. I mean, what do you even call couscous with garbanzo beans, cabbage, ground beef and chicken sausage with siracha sauce on it? Beckenese?


User generated content

This is totally off topic, but I kind of feel moved to ramble more lately. I’ve been writing things in word to post in other places, so why not here? Do I really need a second (third?) blog to get slightly dusty with neglect?

I’ve been following the Iran thing since last weekend. On Fark. I’ve lurked Fark since possibly before 9/11 and have seen just about every Fark meme be coined, and since 9/11 it has been, in my opinion, one of the best places to get actual useful news. No matter the topic there are people there to comment and tear stuff apart and more importantly find contrasting stories or even better yet, be close to the situation to give more accurate representations.  Bizzarely I’ve never signed up and only a few times I’ve ever felt moved to comment, but since I never signed up I can’t. Usually someone else says what I’m thinking, or answers my unasked question anyhow, so it’s all good.

Anyhow, I’ve found it one of the best places to get very current disaster news. Anytime something in the world is up, there I go to have a look see on the more current than current information. With the addition of twitter to the user generated content experience™ (it’s like a band) in 2006 I was able to closely follow the information on the 2007 Southern California fires due to some mildly maladjusted people who took it upon themselves to find and correlate information for days without sleep and report to a central location, i.e. Fark. The things we do for our internet communities, eh? There have been several opportunities in the time since then and now for twitter to be useful, though honestly I find it mostly banal. To be fair though, as I read recently, if all you’ve got to talk about is bullshit, that’s all you’ll see. Mostly, even when our lives get very exciting they aren’t that interesting or influential to others.

I’d hope that journalism can wake up a bit after this and learn that monitoring user generated content (I’m sure story writers already watch if not post on Fark) is the only likely way to save modern journalism. (They could learn some sentence structure, grammar and spelling too!) I’m kind of hoping that the revolution that news outlets are currently going through won’t be as painful to the public as the one which is killing the music industry. Regardless it is painful to watch. As the paper news shuts down they really need to get out of that model and focus more energy on getting and interpreting user generated content. I’m really unclear on how the mildly nutty people who write wikipedia articles can do so mostly correctly in their free time and yet news services–people who are apparently paid for providing information and/or entertainment cannot do so in a reasonable time frame. There is a difference between journalist and historian. Supposedly. I think there is currently much less of a divide between journalist and a master of ceremonies then there ought to be.

Journalism needs to focus on finding and corroborating the information from the new (unpaid) reporters on the ground rather than being them. Considering 50% of the world’s population have cell phones and all the very clever gadgets they have (more appealing to people without computers IMO) this shouldn’t be too difficult and will only take some minor mental flexibility on the parts of the people with responsibility for content management.

Well, that was a ramble.

Benefit # umptyblah of living away from the US: I’m beginning to uncensor myself.


Preserving food and using it later, or creativity in a seasonal economy.

So it’s fairly essential if you want to keep a lid on grocery costs to shop seasonally here (and have a second freezer!). I mean I could go off and buy some summer vegetables but they would be costing me a good $14 per kg instead of the seasonal $1-2. I don’t actually think I could get peaches/strawberries if I wanted though. Canned I imagine. Luckily I planned ahead.

I found that there are some things that freeze well (I am not set up for canning and really bacterial contamination is a bit scary). Freezer bags are a useful thing.

Bananas- peel them and put them in a plastic bag. After they freeze a bit, but not all the way, make sure to break them up (i.e. unstick them from each other) or you get the joy of banging a clump of bananas on the counter trying to break one off. Or you can pop them in the microwave after they freeze. They are now useful for baking with and putting in oatmeal or similar. I also put them (slightly still frozen) into yogurt too and they are only slightly mushy.

Cabbage- I bought a bunch when it was a dollar-ish a head and now it’s closer to $4, so good for me. Chop them up or just halve or quarter them and freezer bag them. They are fully useful for stirfry, soups and pretty much anything except eating raw. Freezing does break down the cellulose but after they are cooked I can’t really tell they were frozen. They chop well when frozen too.

Tomatoes- don’t freeze these raw. Make a sauce and use it in baking or on pasta etc. I froze this slow cooker tomato sauce with good results.

Fruit- strawberries, other berries, peaches, nectarines and similar can be frozen and used fairly simply. A bit mushy at thaw but still useful. Grapes can also be frozen and are kind of fun to eat straight out of the freezer. Probably only suitable for fruit salad after thaw. Do people cook with grapes?

Zucchini, eggplants, and other squash- as long as you cook this before freezing it will be good. Otherwise it’s a bit off. Freezing eggplant straight up makes it go all brown and mushy. Cooking it first into some kind of ratatouille thing and freezing that is fine. You could probably do the same with carrots as well, if you liked cooked carrots.

Avocado- I’ve been halving and peeling and putting these in the freezer with maybe a bit of lemon juice. So far the ones from several months ago are good in guacamole type things and even in a brown rice stir fry mix up thing. They do get a bit brown, but taste fine.

Mushrooms- I have a bunch of baby portabella looking things that I stuck in the freezer. Useful for soups, casserole and stir fry. They are a bit crumbly now that they are frozen, but taste ok.

Spinach- yeah, wash and freeze. Chop first if you like. Same with things like silverbeet (swiss chard) and probably kale (though I can’t find any here for some reason. I think it’s regarded as sheep food). Same with broccoli, cauliflower and that sort of thing.

I gather you can also freeze egg whites. Eggs aren’t terribly seasonal so this hasn’t been a huge concern.

We go through a lot of potatoes, (mainly for dogs) and keeping an apple in the bag does indeed prevent eyes. Potatoes and onions live outside the fridge. Apples are generally available but they live in the fridge and last a long time.  Lately I’ve been eating a lot of pumpkin, or rather winter squash, and frozen cabbage and raw carrots which seem season independent in price. Pumpkins live in the other fridge until cooked, though if I had some kind of shelf to put them on they’d probably be ok.  Otherwise the store has a lot of lettuce (I dislike lettuces, and really, beyond salad what do you do with them?) and of course potatoes and apples.