Sunday, January 18, 2009
Ode to Deaf
I know it sounds strange, but I woke up at three o’clock this morning and for some reason, started thinking about this delicious peanut butter I used to love (and I mean LOVE) back in the late 1970's and early ‘80’s when I was first getting into health food. Thing of it was, I couldn’t remember the name of the stuff. What was it called?
For the better part of a pitch black hour I lay awake in bed, watching my mind strive to unfold the knowledge I knew was in there. What was the name of that darn peanut butter? I knew it was somebody’s actual name. Dean something? Not quite, but getting nearer…
Finally, my memory center retrieved a name that sounded close: Deaf Mills. Knowing I was hot on the trail, I left the warmth of covers and hit up Google in the next room. And voila! The answer was revealed: Deaf Smith peanut butter, made by Arrowhead Mills from the finest Valencia peanuts grown West of the Mississippi.
I found links to Wikipedia entries that explained the derivation of the name (the historical man Deaf Smith fought in the Texas Revolution; the county in Texas named after him is famed for its naturally fluorine-rich soil and tasty Valencia peanuts). Another link led to a blog page where for the past four years, people have been stopping by to sing the praises of Deaf Smith peanut butter, and longingly bemoan the fact that it is no longer available. (See here: http://citycomfortsblog.typepad.com/cities/2004/07/deaf_smith_coun.html)
I must agree that Deaf Smith peanut butter was, indeed, something very special... the best ever of all peanut butters, IMHO. Crunchy and salted was my hands down favorite. I actually had a little "problem" with Deaf Smith peanut butter, in that it was so satisfying and delicious I could eat practically a whole jar in one sitting, tablespoon by luscious tablespoon. (This was not a good idea.)
Alas, there is no modern peanut butter to compare (a blessing in disguise no doubt). Instead, I'm now a fan of crunchy raw almond butter, which is not quite the same thing, but comparably tasty in its own sweet wholesome way, and healthier, too. Unlike acidifying peanuts, almonds are widely regarded as the most alkaline Queen of nuts...and they do not harbor the peanut-associated aflatoxin mold, a known carcinogen.
It’s tough today to find domestically grown raw almonds that are truly raw, as an unfortunate 2008 legal action caused all raw almonds to undergo a “pasteurization” process prior to sale. Organic almonds are pasteurized using steam, conventional almonds are gas-treated, so I think the organic are worth the extra cost. Raw organic almond butter is crazy expensive ($15 a jar!) so I buy it rarely and treat it as a precious commodity when I do. This Split Banana recipe uses only one teaspoon per serving, making it a rich and affordable indulgence. Enjoy as a between-meal snack, a quick dessert or a special occasion breakfast like I did this morning, following my wee hours Deaf Smith detective adventure.
Split Bananas with Chocolate Almond Filling
1 teaspoon each: raw almond butter, raw cacao powder, agave syrup
1 ripe banana
cinnamon and/or cayenne (optional)
Mix together the almond butter, cacao and agave until a thick paste forms. Split a banana lengthwise and remove top half. Cover the bottom half with the chocolate-almond paste, distributing evenly. Replace the top banana half and press down gently to seal. Slice into rounds and arrange on a plate; sprinkle with cinnamon and/or cayenne if desired… and eat! (Feel free to substitute regular cocoa or carob powder for the cacao, and honey, maple or yacon syrup for the agave.)