Saturday, August 22, 2009

peanut butter makes everything taste better

Well, probably not everything but it sure does make a lot of things taste better. It kind of saved dinner tonight! Here's a quick story...

When I was doing my normal morning routine, I checked to see whether I would be able to go food shopping upon returning from work this evening. According to, it was going to pour buckets of rain all I took my umbrella with me, but needed my sunglasses instead. However, as I drove home, the sky over my beautiful city was ominous and growing more gray with each passing moment. I checked the weather again when I got home (5:30ish) and this time told me I had enough time to run to Whole Foods, speed-shop, and run home again before the downpours started around 7:15 PM. Moments later, just as I was preparing to run out the door, Mister arrived home from what was apparently a pretty craptastic day at his job and proceeded to bend my ear with his tales of woe. He noticed I was only half paying attention, while I glanced out the window for some sign of the rain holding off, and asked what was up. I told him I wanted to go to Whole Foods and he said, "I don't think that's going to happen," just as the skies opened up and tons of rain began to drench the streets, cars, and unfortunate outside-people.

I had just about despaired of dinner and was starting to think of what flavor Chinese food I would order when Mister said "I have faith in you." That more or less sealed my determination to find something to turn into our dinner (this would also keep me more dry that running down the street for Chinese take-out). I looked in the miserably empty freezer, then in an eclectic but nearly empty cabinet, and finally in the crisper drawer and refrigerator. Slowly, a bizarre plot hatched itself in my mind and I thought, "Really? I hope this doesn't suck..."

To my ineffable surprise (and delight), dinner was an absolute triumph! I still can't believe how well it came out... I'm starting to think I might actually know a thing or two about this cooking game! Out of nowhere, stringing together what was, in my mind, a completely bizarre combination of ingredients, I have produced one of my favorite dinners in a while. It was also really easy to make, and only took about 45-50 minutes start to finish. Without further ado, I give you...
(okay, it's not very pretty, but it tastes good)
Peanut Butter Peas & Cabbage on Curried Rice
serves about 6
1 cup brown rice
2 cups water
1 Tbsp curry powder*
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup red lentils
salt & pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp oil
2 cups shredded red cabbage
8 oz green peas
4 oz apple juice
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup peanut butter**

1. Combine 2 cups water, curry powder, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in rice, cover and reduce heat to lowest setting. Simmer 45 minutes.
2. In a smaller saucepan, bring 1 cup water to a boil. Stir in lentils, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer 10-15 minutes, then uncover and simmer until rice is done cooking. The lentils will be mushy and resemble a chunky sauce.
3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saute pan or large pot. Saute cabbage, covered, 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Combine apple juice, vinegar, and soy sauce and pour into cabbage. Bring to boiling, then stir in peanut butter until smooth. Stir in peas, cover and simmer on low for 5-10 minutes, until heated through.
4. Remove from heat and stir in lentils. Serve over rice.
* I use Frontier brand curry powder - it's the best I've found. It smells great and has a really bold taste - it's made up of: Turmeric, paprika, fenugreek, coriander, black pepper, cumin, ginger, celery seed, cloves, caraway, and cayenne. If your local food-selling establishments do not offer Frontier products and you cannot persuade them to start, you can order online at .
** You can use creamy or chunky peanut butter - I can't see how it would make a difference. If you care, I used chunky peanut butter because that's what we have. No brand, just the store's generic "brand." I think the chunky is more fun because then there are little peanuts in the food, too.

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