Peanut Butter Cup Bars

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June flew by with the speed of a thestral. The majority of the month was taken up by two separate trips back home, the first of which I documented in the previous post. The second trip was much shorter, but quite jam-packed all the same.

The day after we got home was Jonji’s birthday. Seeing as we had already celebrated with family back at home, his real birthday was a little simpler. We did, however, finally try Plan Check, which is a popular burger joint not too far from our apartment. It turned out to be absolutely delicious, despite my previous misgivings about their so-called ketchup leather (which was actually very tasty). We finished off the afternoon with an iced coffee from Blue Bottle and a stroll along Abbot Kinney with Dan, who was staying with us for the weekend.

One of Dan’s main reasons for making the trip down was a volleyball tournament that he and Jonji had entered. So, on Sunday morning, I skipped the Farmer’s Market (trust me, it was a tough decision) and went with them to the beach, figuring I could at least read my book and get a little color in my blindingly pale skin. To my dismay, it was very overcast when we got to the beach. Then it actually began to lightly rain. I huddled grumpily in my sweater, cursing the dripping sky for not allowing me to bury my face in my super nerdy book while I waited for Dan and Jonji to begin playing. As the day progressed, the sky cleared enough for me to take off my sweater and take out my book, which made it all worth it.

The following Friday, Jonji and I left Kitty and drove up to San Luis Obispo. Since we had just made the long drive to Santa Cruz a week before, we decided to break up the monotony with a night in SLO on the way back up. The day was quite a success—our first stop was at Scout Coffee, at which we stayed for a few hours to study (and in my case, read) and bask in the lovely Scout atmosphere. In the evening we went to Sidecar to get drinks, because we’re just that adventurous. We each only had one drink, yet found ourselves giggling at nothing and weaving slightly after we had finished. We both separately wondered if we had been roofied, but in reality we are just giant lightweights.

We strolled around the Downtown area for a while before settling on dinner at Novo, which had been recommended by several people. My pulled pork sopes were excellent, and the creekside dining was very pleasant. After dinner we decided to walk back to the place we were staying, an Airbnb find of Jonji’s which was literally a shed in someone’s backyard that had been fixed up to accommodate visitors. The property had a spacious backyard with a chicken coop and a friendly fat cat, which was enough to make me happy. We spent the rest of the evening watching Arrow in the shed, and then went to bed early. Unfortunately, the nature of the shed being partially open to the air resulted in an extremely uncomfortable sleeping experience for me. Or rather, lack of sleeping experience. The coffee and roofied drink kept me up at first, and then the howling wind rattling the shed kept my nerves on edge—every sound was an animal waiting to drop onto my head in a ferocious attack. There was one moment where I jumped so much that I woke Jonji up, who, being still half asleep, immediately held out an arm to the empty door and proclaimed, “Don’t come any further!” Definitely the highlight of the entire night. Jonji, you would definitely be in Gryffindor.

Note: pretty sure we got photobombed in the photo below. Either that or we caught the telling of an extremely well-animated story.

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The next morning we said goodbye to the shed, the chickens, and the fat cat, and drove the rest of the way to Santa Cruz. We spent the whole day at PK’s graduation party, where we spent quality time with friends and ate lots of food.

On Sunday, we went up to Redwood City for the Barber Father’s Day brunch at Jerry and Suzy’s. We spent the morning enjoying the garden and then played one round of Scattergories (it took that long to get through one list with that many people). We left in the afternoon so as the meet my family back at home, who were driving home after a few days in Hermit Valley. That night we ate a delicious duck confit and then Jonji and I “let” Dad win at cribbage. The next morning we had breakfast and said our goodbyes, then packed up and left on the long drive home to LA (during which, I’ll add, Jonji got really into Jim Dale’s reading of Harry Potter. Victory is mine.)

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Last weekend Jonji embarked upon a three-day juice cleanse. Let me preface that by saying he was paid to do it for a UCLA study—he would not have volunteered for it otherwise. I mean, what a sacrifice. Obviously I was extremely skeptical about the entire thing, seeing as my world revolves around food. But I was surprised at how well Jonji held up, considering that he often can’t wait ten minutes to eat before dinner’s ready. He was quite miserable without real food, and says that he doesn’t recommend the cleanse to anyone. He did consume two quarts of my chicken broth since he felt so devoid of anything other than sugary juice, which made him feel better. Moral of the story: if you, too, feel obligated to ever do a juice cleanse, at least have some broth handy.

We celebrated the end of his cleanse at Plan Check, where we feasted on pickled veggies, fried chicken, burgers and fries, plus ice cream in the evening. Later that night I dropped Jonji off at the airport for his housemate-reunion trip in Chicago. His absence has left me to do some super exciting things the last couple days, such as expand the garden, read, hang out with Kitty, and work on printmaking. Oh—which reminds me! I’ve started an Etsy shop for my prints and mini journals, called Feast Prints (such an unpredictable name, right?), the link for which is right here. I have immensely enjoying printmaking. The practice lends itself very well to my kind of art—I don’t like spending eons on one image, and linocut prints can be very simple yet effective at communicating an idea. I have made printmaking my summer project, so check the Etsy site throughout the next couple months to see more prints as I post them!

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Phew! That was a long post. I apologize for those of you that just want the dang recipe. Speaking of which, I was craving something sweet the other day and decided to look up something fast and easy. My “no-bake peanut butter” search turned up a version of this gem, which I have tweaked a bit. The result is a bunch of bars that taste like real peanut butter cups, which was exactly what I wanted at the time. I know I’m not the only one who doesn’t always want to spend an hour satisfying a sweet craving, so here you go.

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Peanut Butter Cup Bars
makes about 8 squares

1/2 cup peanut butter
6 tbsp powdered sugar
3 tbsp butter

3/4 cup chopped chocolate
1/2 tbsp butter
2 splashes half and half (roughly 1 tbsp)

Line a 9 x 5 loaf pan (or similarly-sized loaf pan) with parchment paper.

Place the peanut butter in a small bowl and sift the powdered sugar on top. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Once it’s melted, pour over the peanut butter and powdered sugar and mix until smooth.

Spoon the peanut butter mixture into the loaf pan—no need to be too careful about an even spread.

Melt the 1/2 tbsp butter, half and half, and chocolate in the previously used small saucepan over low heat. Stir often, until no lumps remain. Spoon the chocolate over the peanut butter layer and smooth it down with a spoon or rubber spatula.

Pop into the freezer for at least one hour, then cut and enjoy an immensely satisfying, quick treat!

Store in the freezer.

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