Homemade Coconut Peanut Butter (Vegan)

You know what’s easier to make than peanut butter? NOTHING.

Basically, take a cup of peanuts (salted or unsalted, roasted or not), drop them in the food processor and blend until smooth, which takes about a minute or two. If you have used unsalted peanuts, add a little sea salt to taste.

However, if you, like me, are never content to settle for just one ingredient, there are many tasty things you can add. For my first batch I specifically wanted to use coconut oil, because that seemed like it would be crazy delicious.

I made this version for J for his birthday (words could never express how much that man loves peanut butter). It’s on the sweet side – best probably as an ice cream topping or dessert snack. It would also make an awesome peanut butter and banana sandwich.

Homemade Coconut Peanut Butter

  • 1 cup salted peanuts
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp honey

Combine and blend. And that’s the end.

Sweet Chili Jam (Vegan)

Enough about all this vegan-zeegan-schmeegan business. It’s time to can some sweet chili jam, son.

Sweet chili jam, son

I got 99 problems but the perfect breakfast condiment ain't one.

That’s right. I know you’ve been wondering what to do with all those peppers and tomatoes that your garden spat out in ungodly heaves during the late, glorious death throes of fall. Also I know you’ve been thinking to yourself, “Oh fiddlesticks, if only I had the perfect condiment to accompany any possible egg dish conceivable to humanity …” And furthermore I KNOW you’ve been thinking, “Boys, I think it’s about time I got my canning on.”

And if you haven’t been thinking any of those things, don’t worry, I was just joking, I certainly wasn’t either … um … yeah …

So anyway, Sweet Chili Jam. I love this stuff so very much, and it truly does go perfectly with anything you can think of to do with eggs. Also, since it’s a jam, it will keep for a long time in your refrigerator in a jar. You don’t even need to go through any complicated official canning process, you can just stick it in any old jar and you’re good to go.  You can find jars of various sizes in the baking section of many grocery stores, or you can recycle one. For instance, I had this random Classico jar, which is weird, because I honestly can’t remember ever having bought any Classico product in my life, but whatevs, that’s not the point. Sealed tightly and refrigerated, the jam should be good for a couple of months. However, I think you will eat it all before then.

This recipe is an adaptation of an Alice Hart recipe. My modifications include roasting and peeling the tomato and bell peppers first; that way you don’t end up with bits of skin in the jam. (Note: You can skip the roasting – see asterisked comment below). Also I added a smidge of cayenne, increased the garlic, adjusted the amount of water and vinegar, and somewhat disregarded the instructions she gave about what peppers to use.

In our house we eat this with plain eggs, omelettes, frittata, Spanish tortilla, tamales, anything Mexican, and whatever seems like it needs a dollop of sweet and spicy.

Sweet Chili Jam

  • 2 – 3 large garlic cloves,  peeled
  • 3 – 5 small, medium or long red chilis (sweet, medium or hot; use more chilis if they’re smaller, less if they’re larger)
  • 1 oz piece fresh ginger, peeled (I use a carrot peeler)
  • 12 – 16 oz ripe tomatoes
  • 2 red, orange or yellow bell peppers (or any combo thereof), deseeded
  • 3/4 c. Demerara sugar (can also use turbinado or azucar morena – available in most baking sections of grocery stores)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c. rice vinegar
  • Dash of cayenne (to taste)

Preheat broiler. When broiler is quite hot, place tomatoes and bell peppers on baking sheet and broil, turning occasionally (use tongs) until blackened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool until they can be handled. Slide skins off and discard.*

Pulse the garlic, chilis and ginger in a food processor until well minced. If you are afraid of the heat from the chilis, try de-seeding a couple or all of them.

Chop the tomatoes roughly and the bell peppers a little more finely.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine peppers, ginger, garlic, tomatoes, sugar, cayenne, salt and vinegar. It is at this stage that I usually find it useful to add about 1/8 to 1/4 c. of water and a couple splashes more vinegar in order to control the texture. I leave this to your discretion. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer, stirring often, until viscous, about 30 – 40 minutes. Taste and adjust salt/sugar/cayenne as necessary.

Cool and pour into jars. Refrigerate. Serve with any of the items I mentioned above or anything else that sounds good to you!

*Note: You can skip the roasting of the tomatoes and bell peppers and it will not affect the flavor of the jam noticeably. The only drawback to that method is that the skins of the tomatoes and peppers toughen and piece off, somewhat disrupting the texture. You may not mind this – for instance, it doesn’t bother J at all. It is just my personal preference to avoid the skins, and roasting the vegetables is an easy way to accomplish that.

The Cook, the Grass-Fed Beef, Her Husband and His Edible Clover

All right, here’s the deal. I have been obsessing quite a bit about how to reinvent this blog to be more consistent with my lifestyle, and after a lot of thought, I’ve finally decided. But it’s been very difficult and I feel that there are still some things I need to explain. I realize I may have been over-thinking this, but hear me out.

See, I still have a lot of vegan and vegetarian recipes that I feel are worth sharing, and we still continue to make lots of vegan things, it’s just that now we’re also eating non-vegan things. As I’ve said before, the principles of our diet haven’t really changed all that much – we’re still about local, unprocessed, seasonal, sustainably farmed ingredients, and we’re still about eating healthily, and we’re still about using a variety of ingredients to create complex flavors in our dishes. The ideas and techniques we acquired from being vegetarian for 15 years (20+ in J’s case) are still guiding everything we cook. I guess a big part of my identity crisis over eating meat has been that I was reticent to surrender the label of vegetarian, because I feel like the word alone has come to be associated with the culinary principles I’ve described, hence if I said I was vegetarian, people would automatically assume these things about me. But then I had to ask myself, why do I care? Why do I feel the need for people to know my food life? Why do I have to label my diet? Is it approbation I’m after? Is it the need to feel unique or, conversely, the need to fit in? None of these things felt like the answer. Hey, I’m not a food snob, I don’t judge people for what they eat – food is a deeply emotional thing, it’s part and parcel of people’s culture, heritage, traditions and identity. Judging people for what they eat is like judging people for what they believe. Not cool. Tolerance – that’s what’s for dinner. So what’s my major malfunction, Private Pyle?

Yeah, I don’t know.

So I had a long talk with myself, and I reasoned to myself that if what I really can’t bear to part with is the label, that’s lame, and what I should do is come up with a new, original label as a symbolic rejection of labels. And I asked myself, “What’s a good way to describe my diet?” And my Self responded “Well, once I was vegan, but now I’m just ME-gan, my name starts with ‘Z,’ so I guess I’m now ZEEgan.”* And I said to my Self, “Perfect! But really … must you be such a nerd?” No answer.

So that’s my story. The short version (too late) is that I’m not changing the name of the site, I’m just adding a category for my dishes that contain meat. Henceforth you shall find any non-vegetarian dishes under the category of ZEEGAN. Aside from that, things really haven’t changed that much. I still love vegetables and Williams-Sonoma. I still love to cook and to write about cooking. And I still want to share with you, my very favorite blog readers, because sharing makes me happy and gives me something to do.

Let me know your thoughts – give me a comment or send me a personal email if you prefer. And thanks for staying with me.

PS. Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system I promise I will return to our regular programming.

PPS. For those of you who were reading this in expectation of a clover or beef recipe, apologies, I was just trying to be clever.

*Yes, as a matter of fact, I do usually does respond in rhyming meter when conversing with myself.