Peanuts and other things

This past week was pretty quiet for me, with only one meeting and then workshop to finish the tray favors for the hospital patients that the Auxiliary provides each month. We were already over half finished with the ones we were working on and after we finished those, we started on something for October. I am not sure how they are going to turn out but can only tell if we try. Last week I gave you Diez y Seis, not realizing I was a week early, and that left me without something to write about this week! So, even though I’ve used it before, here’s how it was in the good old days. (This little verse is also what we used on our tray favors, which were shaped like a book with part of the verse on the outside and the other part inside).
The old song goes like this: “School days, school days, dear old golden rule days. Reading and writing and ‘rithmetic, taught to the tune of a hickory stick”. Those were the tough days of school for both student and teacher. Corporal punishment was the rule of the day, and if you were punished at school, you received an equal or worse punishment at home. The teacher was usually a man, as it was thought they had better control over a class. If a young lady taught, she had to be single, her contract stated she could not go out on dates, she usually had to live in the home of one of the school board members, and her deportment and dress at all times had to be above reproach. And, hopefully, she was lucky and go to live with a member who was good to her and didn’t expect her to live in an attic with no heat in the winter and treated her as one of the family instead of treating her as an indentured servant.
She taught in a one room schoolhouse, she was in charge of keeping the building clean, water had to be hauled from a well in a bucket, which stood in a corner of the classroom, with one drinking cup or ladle for all the children to share. In the winter, she had to be there early enough to build a fire so that when the students arrived it would be warm enough to start classes when it was time. The rest room was an outhouse and I guarantee it wasn’t heated, and probably with pages from the Sears® catalogue for paper! How many boys of that generation learned what women’s underwear looked like from those catalogues?
Most of the children either walked or rode horseback to get to the school. During crop harvesting time, many of the students were not in class, as they had to help with the crops. Anytime there was sickness at home, the oldest girl in the family would not be able to attend school because she would be helping her mother take care of the sick child, parent or grandparent.
Lunches were carried in tin buckets with lids, which had originally contained lard (shortening). There were no thermos bottles to keep milk cold from the time the children left home, usually before daylight to walk or ride to school. Cookies were always home made as was the cake or pie. If they were lucky, they had leftovers from the previous meal, which were eaten at room temperature. Homemade biscuits, bread, cheese, sausage or boiled eggs were common lunches, as was a big chunk of cornbread. Sometimes the sandwiches were simply bread and butter. There were no hot lunch programs in those days, and mama always made everyone eat a good breakfast. In most country families, that meant bacon (home cured, of course), ham or sausage with eggs, and either homemade bread or biscuits and sometimes grits and gravy.
Those children had outside chores, that could include milking cows and feeding animals, as well as inside chores, just as many children do today. After chores and supper came homework, which was done by lamplight or by candle. They needed a snack before beginning chores after a long walk or ride home from school. A little break for a handful of cookies or a sandwich and a glass of milk helped them relax before going on to the next part of their day.
Many of today’s students also have outside chores, especially the ones who are raising animals for a 4H or FFA project. These animals have to be fed, exercised and groomed each and every day. Other students have working parents and they have to help with the laundry and keeping the house clean, and if they are old enough, perhaps starting supper so it is at least on the way when mother and dad get home.
In the area where I live, as well as your area, the ride home from school on a bus can take an hour to an hour and a half. They get out of school around 3:00 or 3:30, and get on the bus, but by the time the children out in the country get home, it may well be close to 5:00. They too are ready for a snack.
We all know that lots of peanuts are raised in the Devine area, but have you ever given peanut butter a thought? It made its debut at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904. The original patent was given to Dr. John Harvey Kellog, who initially developed peanut butter as a meat alternative for his patients. However, George Washington Carver is considered by many to be the father of the peanut butter industry. He began his peanut research in 1903 and suggested to farmers that they rotate their cotton crops and cultivate peanuts as well.
Peanut butter accounts for about half of the peanuts grown in the United States.
All peanut butter is made by a similar process, first the raw, shelled peanuts are roasted and cooled, and then they are blanched to remove the skins. Some manufacturers split the kernels and remove the heart of the peanuts as well. The blanched peanut kernels are electronically sorted or hand-picked one last time to be sure only good, wholesome kernels are used in the peanut butter.
The peanuts are ground, usually through two grinding stages to produce a smooth, even textured spread. The peanuts are heated during the grinding to about 170ºF. Once the emulsifiers are added and mixed, the butter is cooled rapidly to about 120ºF or below. This cooling crystallizes the emulsifiers, thus trapping the peanut oil that was released by the grinding. To make crunchy peanut butter, the manufacturer will add peanut granules to the creamy butter. (Source: The Great American Peanut).
Homemade peanut butter is easy to make using an electric blender or food processor. The longer the blending, the softer the peanut butter will be. The peanut butter should be stored in a tightly closed container in the refrigerator. Stir to mix the oil before using.
Peanut Butter
1 cup roasted, shelled peanuts (with or without red skins)
1½ teaspoons peanut oil
1/4 teaspoon salt (omit salt if salted peanuts are used)
Place ingredients in a blender or food processor, and with the lid secured, blend until the mixture becomes paste-like or spreadable. If necessary, stop the machine and scrape the mixture from the sides of the container to put the mixture back in contact with the blades. Continue blending until the desired consistency is reached. For crunchy peanut butter, add 1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts after the blending is completed. (Makes approx. 1 cup).
Peanut Butter Cookies
1 cup shortening
1 cup peanut butter
q cup granulated sugar
q cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2½ cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Beat together until very creamy, the shortening, peanut butter and sugars. Beat in the eggs, and then stir in the dry ingredients with a spoon. Roll into small balls, place on cookie sheets, dip the tines of a fork in flour and flatten the rolls in a criss-cross pattern. Bake at 400ºF for 10 to 12 minutes.
Peanut Butter Cupcakes
1 package yellow cake mix
Ingredients needed to make cake (oil, eggs, water, etc.)
½ cup chunky peanut butter
Mix cake mix according to package directions, adding peanut butter when you add the eggs and water. Spoon batter into muffin cups, lined with paper liners you have lightly sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Fill each cup about 2/3 full of batter. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until done. Cool thoroughly. Frost with the following:
1 can chocolate frosting
1/3 cup chunky peanut butter
Mix together the frosting and the peanut butter and frost each cupcake. Decorate with candy corn or one of the candy pumpkins if desired.
Hot Chile Nuts
1 pound (3½ cups) raw, Spanish peanuts
¼ cup peanut oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon red pepper
Combine dry ingredients and set aside. Place peanuts in a 13×9-inch baking pan and pour peanut oil over nuts, stirring well to coat. Place in a preheated 350ºF oven and roast for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove just before peanuts are the desired doneness; they will continue to cook as they cool. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle combined dry ingredients over peanuts and stir until well coated. Store in a tightly covered container.
Spiced Peanuts
4 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
2 cups pecan halves
1 cup Chinese rice noodles
1 cup raisins
Place butter or margarine in a 9×12-inch baking pan; microwave on HIGH until melted. Stir in seasonings and add nuts and noodles; toss gently to coat. Microwave on HIGH for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring after 4 minutes. Add raisins, stir and continue to cook on HIGH for an additional 2 minutes. Let stand until cooled, stirring often. Yield: 6 cups.
Candied Peanuts
1 cup sugar
2 cups raw peanuts
½ cup water
¼ teaspoon red food coloring (if desired)
2 to 3 drops cinnamon oil (if desired)
Mix all ingredients in iron skillet and boil until water is gone. (Stir frequently). Pour on cookie sheet; bake for 15 minutes at 300ºF. Pour out onto foil lined cookie sheet and allow to cool completely.