Page 88: How I Conquered Evil By, Lisa

Okay, prepare yourselves.  This is going to be an emotional journey.

It started off innocently enough.  While flipping through (again) Mollie Katzen’s Vegetable Heaven, Annette stumbled upon a Peanut-Chile Dressing.  It sounded good.  We blindly trusted this Mollie Katzen character. She recommended the dressing for such dishes as Vietnamese Salad Rolls, or with raw, steamed or grilled vegetables, so it seemed perfect – we were looking for something to liven up some vegetables since it was a vegetarian friendly crowd.  The recipe looked simple enough.  We were doing a lot of other things, but surely we could fit in a simple dressing recipe from our pal Mollie.  Surely.   

Step 1 – Place ½ cup peanut butter and 1 tbs. honey in a medium sized bowl.  Add about ½ cup of boiling water and mash with a spoon until uniform. 

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Okay, Mollie.  That sounds really delicious so far.  I’m so glad we’re friends.  I’m learning so much from you. 

Step 2 – Add another ½ cup of boiling water and all the other ingredients (SIX TABLESPOONS cider vinegar, 2 tsp minced garlic, 1 tbs sesame oil, 1 tbs soy sauce, 1 tsp sale, 1 small minced Serrano chile) and stir until well blended.  Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator. 

What?? That’s all?  But Mollie!  This recipe is so EASY!  Just two steps?  Mollie, you are the best friend a girl could ask for.  We should hang out all the time. I think you should be the godmother to my unborn children. 

And then I did as she said.  I combined the remaining ingredients.  I stirred until well blended.  And then I realized that Mollie was trying to kill me.   Clearly, I immediately rescinded that godmother offer, but it was too late to save myself. 

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Before me sat a bowl full of peanut butter flavored vinegar.  It was this brown sludge that was far too thin to be a dressing and I cannot express to you how offensive it tasted.  I might as well have been drinking my Easter egg dye after eating a peanut butter sandwich.  Ew. 

(You might think at this point that I wasn’t giving it a chance because I hadn’t completed the refrigeration portion of the instructions, but you’d be wrong.  You really have to trust me that no amount of refrigeration would have turned this into something palatable).

Determined to salvage the meal, Annette and I took matters into our own hands.  First step:  balance out the killer vinegar.  This involved an absurd amount of peanut butter, a reasonable amount of honey and sesame oil, some garlic and another chile.  It was still too thin, but we put it on the stove and let it congeal a little and it turned into something normal. 

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Well, Annette said it was normal.  I had to stop eating it after countless cycles of adding random ingredients and tasting the sauce again, because the vinegar already had its grip on my brain and I couldn’t taste anything other than vinegar for about a half an hour. 

We actually roasted many a nice vegetable for this dish:

Before:

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Pre-Oven

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Post-oven, atop a bed of couscous, taken with a camera phone because I was unprepared for battery failure:

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So please don’t think the whole meal was a failure.  It just didn’t really include the peanut sauce.  After my repeated UGH-I-can’t-taste-or-smell-anything-but-vinegar type exclamations, I’m pretty clear as to why our guests opted for the butter and parmesan cheese to go with their couscous and vegetables.  Annette ate the peanut sauce and said it wasn’t bad, but the majority of it went into a Tupperware and was placed in the fridge. 

That’s so sad, you may say.  What a waste, you might think.  But the story isn’t over, my friends.  It has a touching, warm, fuzzy ending.

Tonight, Annette cooked up some broccoli, mushrooms and green beans with the peanut sauce that we’d created.  And believe it or not, it was most delicious.  Once we’d exorcised the spirit of Mollie Katzen and gotten past the onslaught of vinegar, it turns out that we really did create a decent sauce and we’re both planning on eating it over a bed of rice tomorrow for lunch. 

Even though we felt betrayed upon learning that Mollie is a crazy liar who is trying to ruin everyone’s lives, my roommate and I are too strong to let ourselves be victimized by a psychopathic meal killer. 

Score:  Annette and Lisa: 1, Evil Mollie: 0. 

20 comments

  1. I don’t want to insult your recipe’s editor (lest Mollie Katzen banish me to the enchanted broccoli forest), but the soy sauce and vinegar measurements sound mixed up! I don’t use a recipe when I make peanut sauce, but I add just a few shakes of rice wine vinegar (more Asian-y) and probably around 1/8-1/4 cup of soy sauce to that amount of peanut butter. Oh, and I mix in chopped green onions and cilantro too. And sometimes I garnish with orange slices. People are always surprised by the orange slices. And I’m always like, they’re just oranges, get over it. Anyway, hope this helps.

  2. I’ve gotten burned by SO many bad peanut sauce recipes that I actually still use (OH THE SHAME) a bottled sauce almost every time. I want a peanut sauce to be rich and salty and spicy but I almost always end up with something unctuous and sour.

    Surely there must be someone out there with the ideal recipe that works every time. Ina Garten? Jeffrey Steingarten? Usually you can count on one of them to distill the perfect recipe that Works Every Time.

  3. I agree that rice wine vinegar would be better than the cider vinegar in this recipe… it’s lighter. And it’s best to carefully add to taste at the end so as not to overpower.

  4. This peanut sauce is incredibly good. Lick the spoon good. And as simple as throwing everything in the blender and pushing a button. Note the lack of vinegar ;-)

    Yummy Peanut Sauce

    Yield: 1 1/2 cups

    3 cloves garlic

    3/4″ piece ginger, peeled and sliced

    3 Tbs sugar

    2 tsp chili paste (or less – taste first)*

    3 Tbs soy sauce

    2 Tbs oil

    1/3 cup smooth peanut butter

    2 Tbs water

    juice of 1 lime

    Throw garlic and ginger into a blender or food processor and pulse until mixture is smooth. Add rest of ingredients and blend until very smooth. If too thick, add a little water.

    *Chinese chili paste with garlic, available in the oriental section of most grocery stores. In a pinch, add more garlic and cayenne pepper instead, to taste.

  5. Sounds like maybe she meant 6 TEA-spoons? Lol, i’m gonna have to try some of these other suggestions here, making a peanut sauce came up coincidentally last weekend as an option for some chicken skewers, but I didn’t want to wait to look for one. :)

  6. I’ll always love Molly Katzen in a nostalgic way. Of course it was her Moosewood that introduced 13 year old me to vegetarian cooking. And that’s vegetarian cooking with lots of butter, eggs and cheese of course! Now when it comes to peanut butter, I’m not so surprised that Ms. Molly screwed that up.

    I’d go to West Africa (not Ithaca) to find some delicious peanut butter recipes. My friend from Mali made this beautiful saucey spinach with peanut butter, tomatoes, hot peppers and onions.

  7. i was looking up the good humor strawberry shortcake popsicle to show my friend what it was and your blog came up on google and i couldnt help but to look! :). everyone keeps giving you a bunch of crazy recipes, let me tell you, i eat spring rolls and egg rolls and all kinds of asian food that requires dipping (i grew up on it and i love it) and the EASIEST way to make it is just TWO ingredients i swear. use peanut butter and mix it with SWEET AND SOUR CHILLI SAUCE — which can easily be bought from the ‘ethnic foods section’ or at an asian food store (if you have those around, like a Ranch 99 etc). or you can buy it online (http://www.goodnessdirect.co.uk/cgi-local/frameset/detail/363460.html) — ive never tried that brand but it looks exactly like the one i always use. just to mix things up, you can also mix in a little bit of hoisin sauce, but i dont like it so i never use it. it’s really simple, dont waste your time boiling/refrigerating, etc. GOODLUCK! :)

  8. Don’t let those pesky men berate you! You’re doing a fine job as the interim Amateur.

    I like the Moosewood cookbook, but I totally agree that some of Molly’s recipes are stink-a-roni… I use them as a base and make permanent notes in the margins of the book. The Moosewood packaged foods in my freezer case never taste bad. Maybe Molly has recipe dyslexia.

  9. I want AG back as well! This girl is fun when she appears in his posts, but she can’t cook and she can’t write. No offend, I am sure you have many other lovable qualities! But a food blogger….. No!

  10. In the first place, how can ANYONE write:

    “This girl is fun when she appears in his posts, but she can’t cook and she can’t write. No OFFEND, I am sure you have many other lovable qualities! But a food blogger….. No!”

    Are you kidding me? Excuse me, Pot, it’s the Kettle. You’re black.

    Second, how is someone not supposed to take offense to that? (Sorry — How is someone not supposed to take offend to that?)

    Third, has anyone here ever thought that Lisa is just being a good friend to Adam and you people should just LAY OFF? If you don’t like it, don’t read it. Adam will be back soon. In the meantime, try another hobby instead. Like interacting with humans instead of a computer screen.

    Hande, I’m sure you have a lot of other loveable qualities, but proof reading and politeness are not two of them.

  11. My respect for AG, Lisa and this blog keep me from answering to Alice here. They have received mail from me.

  12. Leave Lisa alone. I haven’t been this pissed off since I was brainwashed into believing I was a serial killer and thought I stabbed Alice in her kitchen. Don’t make me cut you.

    PS: Sorry about that stabbing thing Alice!

  13. Alice? Now I know everything I need to know about you. Whoever you are, you don’t even have the decency (guts?) to use a valid email address.Yeah, great person, you are.

  14. Dear Hande,

    It. Is. Called. A. Soap. Opera.

    Look. It. Up.

    Sincerely,

    Alice Horton

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