It's with a heavy heart today that I announce my temporary retirement from Food & Think. Don't worry--I'll be back.
But major looming deadlines at my "real job" are--for the time being--making it very difficult for me to bring you pressing news about 5,000-year-old intestinal contents and why your stomach makes those funny noises. Particularly if you want your pressing news to contain things like punctuation and facts. So, much as I enjoy both food and the intriguing thoughts I think while eating, I must put a stop to it for a few months.
At first I thought a hunger strike would be a fitting way to raise awareness about the plight of overworked writers everywhere. But I cast the idea aside once I realized a hunger strike would mean an end to French fries and, in all likelihood, most kinds of cake, at least the good ones. Also beer, since it contains calories, would be difficult to work into the protest.
Far easier, then, to go on a thinking strike. It's like a hunger strike, only I don't get so hungry. Also, because I'm not thinking as much I can eat more things in the "stupid" food group, like chicken wings. Frankly, it's been a win-win so far.
I'll leave you in the capable hands of my co-Food & Thinker, Amanda Bensen, who shows no signs of slowing down. She recently tackled an entire week of chocolate and, undaunted, started this week by heroically tasting some 20 wines and then discovering sweet potatoes in space. Go Amanda!
There's just one last thing I have to tell you about before I officially stop thinking. It's the Witmer peanut butter mixer-- the one invention you never realized how much you needed.
I'm assuming you're all fans of natural peanut butter. (I favor Adams for its perfect balance of roast, coarseness of grind, and saltiness.) It's far better than those homogenized, hydrogenated, sugar-spackled major brands. (By the way, most grocery store brands of peanut butter are safe from the recent salmonella outbreak; you can check them at this FDA website.)
The only catch is that the oil separates from natural peanut butters, and the first thing you have to do on opening a new jar is to mix it back in--a tedious process that invariably spills a bunch of the precious peanut oil. It's also tiring--as one reviewer on Amazon noted:
You stick a knife in and stir and stir and stir. In about a minute your hand starts to cramp so you try to use more of your arm. That's when you get clumsy and the oil starts to spill over the sides. The jar gets slippery making it difficult to grab onto its side; plus you've left a mess on the countertop.
(Incidentally, 40 separate people have taken the time to review this product on Amazon. I find that amazing. There are even separate comment threads started for some of the individual reviews. That's how much this peanut butter stirrer has touched people's lives.)
The mixer fits over a standard screw-top glass jar (it comes in several sizes to match whatever volume of peanut butter you typically buy). A sturdy wire arc fits through a hole in the cap, allowing you to mix the peanut butter while keeping the lid firmly closed.
Of course, any great invention must have an unexpected bonus feature to make it revolutionary and not just pretty good. With the ginsu knife it was the ability to slice through those pesky tin cans on your cutting board. With this peanut butter mixer, it's the squeegee seal on the little hole where you poke the stirrer into the jar. It's such a tight fit that the stirrer comes back out of the jar spotless and gleaming. If you hadn't just stirred the peanut butter yourself, you might not be sure it had ever been in the jar.
I'm not kidding. It's miraculous. I might just agree with another of the Amazon reviewers, who claimed the peanut butter was so well mixed it actually tasted better. There just aren't many better ways to spend 10 bucks.
And with that, I'll see you in April. Thanks for reading.