I love how artisanal practices are being reapplied to today’s necessities. Artisan bread, jams, cheese, beer, chocolate (a necessity for me at least) are all enriching daily life. Somehow in the madness of mechanized food production – or maybe because of it – there emerged neo-pioneers who took food providence, flavour and lifestyle back into consideration and re-imagined a better staple. Thanks to the clever craft of Roman and Andrea Jewell, we can now also add Fix & Fogg Peanut Butter to the growing list of artisanal comebacks.
The Jewell’s have an interesting history which has already been well documented (check out the article in The Dominion Post) but what strikes me in particular is why they focused their formidable powers on the proper making of peanut butter – a peanut butter so extraordinary that, as an American, I’d have to say it’s the best I’ve ever had. EVER! There are a few reasons Fix & Fogg exists today. Both lawyers by trade, Roman in particular wanted to be able to step back at the end of each day and see something tangible, something beautifully made by his own hands. Roman tells me that while both Andrea and him have always loved peanut butter, they saw a gap between the rare ‘make-your-own-nut-butter’ options at the odd health food store (more prevalent in the U.S. than here in NZ) and the overly sweetened, salted and preservative-filled versions pumped out by large manufacturers. This gap called out to the couple who chose to take their inner foodie to the next level, by applying their analytical skills and intelligent creativity to the entire nut butter process.
The folks at Fix & Fogg love their job. Roman is stoked that his day now consists of roasting batches of the Runner Hi-Oleic peanut variety (high in monounsaturated fat = really heart healthy), getting the colour and flavour just right because the darker the roast, the tastier the peanut butter and the less salt needed in the product. He really enjoys hand sifting the crushed nuts to get the perfectly sized crunchy bits into Fix & Fogg’s “Crunchy” version (ideal for people like me who like their peanut butter stupendously crunchy!) Roman and fellow F&F’er, Tom Brooks, are also glad to innovate their way through the peanut-butter-making-day solving problems, such as when air bubbles appear in the jars (which they hand fill) which gets sorted out by repurposing one of those fat reducing bum wiggling machines into the newly commissioned Fix & Fogg Jar Oscillator. The finer details of making your own stuff really matters to Roman, like choosing ‘soft shoulder’ jars, so peanut butter doesn’t get annoyingly stuck inside the lip when you’re trying to extract the last delicious bits. And Andrea, who still practices law part-time, comes up with all kinds of kooky / awesome recipes to share on their Facebook page, at the markets they attend and at the Jewell breakfast table (see below).
Finally, Roman – whose business card now reads: “Master Grinder” – finds fulfillment in selecting certain stores around the country that intentionally sell small quantities (keeping the peanut butter fresh) to food enthusiasts throughout NZ. A strategy which he tells me consists of calling friends in, say, Queenstown, and asking where they go to buy the really good stuff. This is why you can now find this fine peanut butter, in “Smooth” or “Crunchy” variations at Raeward Fresh.
Like many of the local artisans the Raeward Fresh works with every day, the Jewells have looked conscientiously at their lifestyle and the food they consume and decided to simply make a better thing. You’d be surprised, I think, at all the things you can make with this one extraordinarily better peanut butter thing. To illustrate the point, I’ve been ‘researching’ various ways to appreciate Fix & Fogg’s efforts this week. So far, I’ve come up with:
• Fix & Fogg Quick Pud: a tbsp of F&F Crunchy, a tbsp of Dolce Leche (also at Raeward Fresh), a dash of raw cocoa nibs and a couple of spoonfuls of greek yogurt. Amazingly moor’ish.
• Fix & Fogg with Vipers Bugloss Honey: Simply dip your spoon in the honey, then into the F&F Crunchy jar… repeat… This means you can’t share the jar with others but, oh well.
• Fix & Fogg “Crunchy” banana toasty with Provisions Cherry Vanilla Jam: enough said.
• Fix & Fogg on Fruit toast: The European Bakery in Queenstown makes a lovely fig, apricot and walnut sourdough loaf which, when dashed with a bit of danish butter and good spread of F&F, comes alive in the morning before a hard day of food blogging.
• Fix & Fogg Quick Reeses Cup (sans the cup): A small piece of chocolate fudge nicked from the Glenorchy Trading Post (which makes the best fresh chocolate fudge in the region) and a teaspoon of F&F Smooth taken all at once or in nibbles of both fudge and peanut butter at a time.I could go on, and have been, but we’ll finish here with two recipes which Andrea kindly shared with us.
Fix & Fogg Winter Porridge
1 cup ground oats
2 cups water
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 dessert spoon F&F peanut butter (smooth or super crunchy) + 2 teaspoons for topping
1 dessert spoon chia seeds
1 apple – 1/2 grated, 1/2 chopped
approx. 5 pitted dried dates – sliced
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
honey to taste• Combine oats and water in a pot and simmer over a medium heat.
• Just before the oats are fully puffed into porridge, stir in the remaining ingredients, reserving the chopped apple, some dates, chia seeds, and peanut butter.
• Divide into bowls and scatter with remaining ingredients. Enjoy on a cold winter’s morning!
Fix and Fogg peanut butter and ‘caramel’ slice
For the base:
1 cup raw hazelnuts
1 cup desiccated coconut
½ cup almond meal
½ cup Fix and Fogg Super Crunchy or Smooth Peanut Butter
100g unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
Agave, rice malt syrup, or honey – sweeten to tasteFor the ‘caramel’:
2 cups pitted dates
¼ cup Fix and Fogg Smooth Peanut Butter
¼ cup coconut cream
½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped
soaking water as needed
For the chocolate:
¼ cup coconut oil
¼ cup cacao butter
½ cup cacao or cocoa powder
Agave, rice malt syrup, or honey – sweeten to taste
• Start with a 20cm square tray.
• Soak the dates in warm water. Leave for at least 15 minutes while you prepare the base.
• Whiz up the nuts in a food processor until semi fine. Add the remaining base ingredients and whiz again to combine. Press into a lined and greased tray. Bake for 8-12 minutes at 160˚C until starting to turn golden. Remove and allow to cool completely.
• Drain dates, reserving the soaking water. Add dates to a food processor along with all other caramel ingredients, except for soaking water. Blend on high until dates are smooth. Add soaking water, 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture is a smooth paste. Not too runny or it won’t set. Spoon mix on top of the nut base.
• Melt coconut oil and cacao butter in saucepan and then stir in the cacao/ cocoa powder, and sweetener if you need it. Pour over the caramel and refrigerate until set. Slice at room temperature, and then keep refrigerated until ready to serve.