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.
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 Clearly, I immediately rescinded that godmother offer, but it was too late to save myself.
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.
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:
Post-oven, atop a bed of couscous, taken with a camera phone because I was unprepared for battery failure:
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.