You don’t need me to tell you to pack a sandwich for lunch, but lately for some reason I can’t get peanut butter and honey out of my head. Though I’ve been eating it on spelt bread in a gesture towards healthiness, I often dream of eating it on the dreadfully soft white bread we used to use at summer camp.
As a kid and a teenager I spent three weeks every summer in a screen and concrete cabin on the shores of a lake about an hour outside of Austin. The camp cook, Barney, was a little-seen but much-beloved institution. Each cabin was expected to make up a little song and dance in praise of him at least once a week (no joke). We looked forward to certain meals obsessively, but I can remember only a few now: honeybuns for breakfast, chicken fried steak and apple crisp for lunch, and taco salad for dinner. (For some reason out biggest, hottest meal of the day was served at lunchtime, when the temperature usually hovered around 97 degrees. Perhaps the director’s hope was that we would all pass out during the required post-lunch siesta instead of playing pranks on our sleeping counselors.)
Since there was only one choice of food at each meal (which we actually called “chow”) but no one was required to eat it, every cabin kept peanut butter, honey, and something like Wonder Bread on its table. I probably ate a peanut butter and honey sandwich for the first time when lunch was something I refused to eat (catfish?). Skeptical at first (I liked plain peanut butter sandwiches better than peanut butter and cloying jelly), I came to love peanut butter and honey so much that soon I was eating a sandwich or two even when I did enjoy the official meal and dessert. It’s a good thing we were so active.
Fast forward to the stressful present, far from the pleasures of Inks Lake: I knew I had to get serious about packing lunches when Andrew revealed that he was buying peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at work. However cheap they were, they had to be a waste of money, and nobody with half an ounce of planning skills is too busy to make PBH (or, if you must, PBJ) before going to bed at night or running out the door in the morning. For me the greatest obstacle was keeping bread around: if it’s good, I’ll eat it all right away, and if it’s not so good, it gets moldy before we can make a dent. It finally occurred to me to keep a loaf of sliced bread in the freezer for true preparedness.
And I finally calculated the calories in a PBH sandwich made on white bread: more than 500, at least the way I make it. Hence the switch to spelt bread, which I think holds the total to 400—still fairly indulgent, but made worthwhile by the memories of being young, tan, barefoot, and carefree.
About the author: Robin Bellinger recently escaped a career in book publishing, which was cutting into her cooking time. Now she's a freelance editor and can bake bread on Tuesday afternoon if she feels like it. She lives in Midtown Manhattan with her husband and blogs about cooking and crafting at home*economics.
- 2 slices bread, your choice
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- 1 1/2 tablespoons honey or to taste
- 1 thinly sliced banana (optional)
If your bread is frozen, defrost it in a toaster or under the broiler for a minute or two. Spread with peanut butter and honey. Include a layer of banana if you like and close the sandwich up. Slice in half lengthwise or diagonally as nostalgia demands.