Here in Portland, OR (and back home in Buffalo as well), back to school comes promptly after labor day weekend. This year our schedule served us well, keeping us on summer vacation almost the whole first week of September! Summer comes late here in the the Pacific NW, and it breaks our hearts a bit to say goodbye. This last weekend was perfect weather, and for me, the perfect weekend. In my house (and in my own head, for that matter), we tend to have a tug-of-war on the weekends with ‘staying at home catching up on projects and being cozy’ opposing ‘getting out for lots of adventure, exercise, and sunshine’. The three day weekend really affords us the opportunity to get everyone’s needs met. Saturday, we got in a full day of mountain biking and swimming on Mt Hood, and even with Sunday morning spent renting kayaks on the Tualatin River (my favorite!), there was still plenty of time to catch up (ish) and cozy up.
While thinking about how to prepare for the first week of lunchbox packing, I remembered a post on homemade nutbutters I’d seen on The Kitchn linking to several other bloggers who’ve tried their hand at stepping out of the box with homemade, gourmet nutbutters. There are a lot of things I often feel like I should be making myself that I don’t because of time and energy constraints. From almond milk to canned beans, I frequently take the shortcut. But truth be told, I don’t love the straight up ground almonds and peanuts available at my locals grocer’s, and the specialty blends (as in locally made hemp hazelnut deliciousness) run somewhere in the neighborhood of a zillion dollars an ounce. So, I thought I’d give it a try.
Check this out! pour nuts in your food processor, turn it on, wait longer than you think you should have to, perhaps upwards of ten minutes, and voila! nut butter. This, I might argue is even easier than buying the natural varieties, because it hasn’t separated into oil and concrete yet.
I played around with a couple of the recipes I found at The Kitchn, made a few minor changes, and let me tell you, there is a mountain of ideas about to grow out of this one!!
For starters, I tried Cake Batter Cashew Butter (how could I not??)
I am not a patient person, so I skipped the slow roast, and simply stuck the 2 cups into the toaster oven for one cycle.
I replaced the almond extract with extra vanilla, simply b/c I didn’t have any almond.
I replaced the sucanat with 15 drops of vanilla stevia. A slow drizzle of grapeseed oil softened it to perfection. I skipped the sprinkles, and still this household has a new favorite. This is a protein-rich lunchbox dip delicious with celery, rice cakes, or crackers.
My second was also from the Edible Perspective, a variation on Smoked Paprika Almond Butter. If you haven’t already fallen for Smoked Paprika, please do so immediately. I have developed a habit of adding it to all sorts of things 9like vegan chhez recipes, for example!) Due to my desire to NOT make a trip to the store my version uses local Oregon hazelnuts.
I used organic hazelnuts that had been dry roasted, and the blended into a lovely, liquidy butter after about 8 minutes. I then added the other ingredients and all seemed to be going well. Then I replaced the honey with coconut nectar, and the entire texture changed. I’ve had this problem with coconut sugar in other recipes, any other coconut sugar alchemists out there, please let me know how you’ve dealt with this. It turned dry and crumbly. The flavor was AMAZING, but the texture needs a little work. Next time I’ll try stevia or Yacon Syrup. Any other kitchen adventurers, give these variations a try and let me know.
This savory hazelnut butter is not as appealing to my 5th grader as the cake batter is, but for my partner and I this and some celery sticks will provide some yummy work snacks this week (we even tried it on a picnic smeared onto some nori)!
I am thinking Nut butter sampler packs are in the cards for holiday gifts this year!