My brother Jacob was married in Portland, Oregon last weekend. A joyous occasion, definitely, but there was a hint of anxiousness as Hurricane Ike barged into our hometown of Houston, Texas. We were relieved that Mom and Jacob’s best man had flown out to Portland before they closed the airports on Friday, but it didn’t mitigate the sadness we felt as we watched the destruction on TV.
I’ve only been in one hurricane in my life—Hurricane Alicia back in 1983. That was the last big one to hit Houston and much of the news coverage referenced the parallels in the two storms’ aftermaths. Beyond flooded streets, there were also piles of glass, stacks of tree limbs and wrecked buildings. But even if you’re spared all of that destruction, no one is spared the loss of electricity.
Besides riding my bike around the neighborhood during the eye of Alicia, having no power for a few days (in the hot, humid summer no less) is my biggest recollection of that storm, and that meant lots of card games and nap times. But what did we eat? I couldn’t remember, so I asked my dad. He said peanut butter.
I’ve been looking at Hurricane Ike relief sites, and indeed if they are soliciting food donations, peanut butter is at the top of their list. Peanut butter for me is one of those perfect foods: it’s a little sweet; it’s a little salty; it needs no adornment (though certain things such as bananas, chocolate chips, or jam are very welcome); it can be eaten any time of day; it can be a snack or a main dish; and it only takes a couple of tablespoons to fill you up and give you energy.
But what I also recently learned is that it is very easy to make your own peanut butter. You just throw a bunch of peanuts into your food processor with a bit of oil and in no time you have the freshest, healthiest peanut butter you’ve ever tasted. And if you want to doll it up with spices, cayenne powder or even chocolate, no problem.
My family and friends are OK and I pray yours are, too. My heart goes out to all of those who are suffering through the wake of Hurricane Ike and hopefully, their lives will soon return to normal. I wish I could be there to help with the clean up, but in the meantime I’ll show my solidarity by eating peanut butter.
Homemade peanut butter
- 2 cups roasted, salted peanuts
- 1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil
- Place the ingredients in your food processor, and blend until it turns creamy—about a minute or so. (First it will turn into powder but keep blending, it will get there soon!)
Here are some variations:
Chunky: If you want chunky peanut butter, set aside a quarter cup of peanuts, and stir them into the peanut butter after it’s blended in the processor.
Sweeter: Add 1/2 tablespoon of honey to ingredients. Spicy: Add 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper to ingredients.
Chocolate: Add an extra 1 1/2 tablespoons of peanut oil, 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons of honey or agave nectar and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon. You’ll have to blend it a bit longer than regular peanut butter.