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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Play with your food: making ‘ants on a log’

I was trying to doze off, having had a very long day. Things usually happen in threes, as they say, and the third event was merely a warm-up for the fourth and fifth mighty dealings that weighed heavily on my shoulders. But, hey, it’s all part of this adulting thing, something that I try to avoid like the plague.
I had only been sitting in my recliner (my God, I’m starting to sound like my father) for a few minutes when the food gods smiled on me to usher me off to sleep. Having neglected to eat a decent lunch or dinner, I had just partaken in a late-night nosh of thick schmears of mayonnaise and spicy mustard on salami rollups. They hit the spot, and it was time to get some rest for the onslaught that was sure to be in my life the next day.
But just as I was about to meet the Sandman, a thought occurred to me and I started to nod my head in that “Yeah, that would be a great combo” type of way. You see, similar to the great Anton Ego from “Ratatouille,” I too relate the foods I eat to my many memories of the past; family, friends, exciting and never-to-be-repeated trips, the dangerous days of youth and so on.
And I have no idea where the idea came from, but I knew that the next day I would make my own ants on a log combination that would satisfy, and it did. Wait, did you say that you don’t know what ants on a log are?
It is only one of the greatest snacks known to mankind, or more to the point, child-kind. Celery, sloppily chopped by mom was then slathered in peanut butter and sprinkled with raisins. They were easy, mostly nutritious, and I still find myself eating a few when I’m bored. Why not? It’s a perfect combination.
But, I knew that making ants on a log would be a trite and boring exercise to say the least, so I rummaged through my brain and pantry to see what I could come up with.
Sure enough, the next morning I remembered that I was in possession of a great many habanero peppers, and I wanted to use them in a way other than their intended purpose; to burn greatly on more than one occasion.
I’ve always been a big fan of chili jellies and jams, so I figured that would be an easy fit. Now I was down to only a couple other items: the celery and the peanut butter. Owning a Vitamix blender that has held steadfast for these last six years, I threw in some roasted, salted peanuts and made some ridiculously simple yet remarkable peanut butter.
Now on to the celery. Most people agree with me that it’s not terribly satisfying to chew on, between the omnipresent bitterness and the fibers. The simple task of peeling takes care of both of those problems, and you are left with a triumvirate or ingredients that will please … with a little kick at the end.
Tonight as I go to sleep, I will rest knowing that I played with my food today, and I suggest that you do the same. After all:
“The idea is to die young as late as possible.”  -Ashly Montagu
Fire Ants on a Log
enough for a fairly large group of people!
8 stalks of celery
2 cups Sweet & Salty peanut butter (recipe follows)
1/2 cup Habanero Jam (recipe follows)

Peel your celery! There is a world of difference in the end product, as the fibrous exterior is removed as is a great deal of the bitterness
Drizzle the celery logs with your peanut butter and dress with some of the pepper jam
I know this is ridiculously simple, but sometimes it’s just a great thing to play with your food

Sweet & Salty Peanut Butter
makes about 2 cups
2 cups Roasted, salted peanuts
Oil, as needed
3-4 Tbsp. Granulated sugar

I can only attest to this working in a Vitamix, but so many residential blenders are powerful that I recommend looking up your model to see if it works
Place the peanuts and sugar in the blender, and starting on slow, work your way up in speed, tamping the peanuts down as you go
Add only enough oil (You probably don’t need any) to make the peanut butter the consistency that you want
Adjust for taste and you’re set!

Habanero Jam
Makes about 1 quart
15 Habanero peppers, minced and seeded
1 Red bell pepper, minced and seeded
2 medium Carrots, peeled and finely shredded
6 cups Granulated sugar
3/4 cup Cider vinegar
3/4 cup Good quality champagne vinegar
Pectin, as needed (follow instructions)

Heat the sugar and water until the sugar is completely dissolved
Add the vegetables and cook for about five or six minutes at a low boil
Add the pectin (again, look to the particular manufacturer for instructions and quantities) and boil for a full minute, skimming any foam off the top
Without canning, this will keep for around two weeks in the refrigerator. If you can, it will last well throughout the cold season