Well, as weeks go, this past one went by without too many problems and wasn’t even overly busy. According to the calendar, it’s now officially autumn, however, you would not be able to prove it by the weather! The nights are fairly cool, but the daytime temperatures are still in the high 90s most days. We’ve had thunderstorms and some rain during the week, but the amount was just barely a half-inch. It was enough to settle the dust and water the grass, but you would have thought that with most of us having in the vicinity of 15 or more inches that we wouldn’t have needed rain, but the truth is that it was needed. It seemed to me that either the ground dried out very quickly or it ran off, I am not sure which. My friend who is a “winter Texan” and her husband have been in Michigan for the summer. She stated last week that the folks who are staying at the same RV park they are in have been buying wood for their fireplaces as it is so cold up there at night. She says it’s just right as far as she is concerned.
My grandson and his wife are home from New Zealand, they finished their time there and he now has his PhD in engineering. I am not sure exactly what type it is, but am pretty sure it has to do with boats. For the time being, they are staying with his parents in Galveston. And of course, the grandparents are having fun with the two little boys and probably spoiling them. The boys are familiar with the grandparents as they have been skypeing almost every week. They hope to get to visit with me soon.
This week will find me back in Devine for my monthly bunco session and I am looking forward to it, without having the worry of “will I have a home to go back to”? As I stated last week, my main damage was a large limb on my roof that was removed within 48 hours after I got home and my old cistern (water tank), being on the ground after being about ten or twelve feet in the air for the past 60 or so years. My insurance company has been great and I got my check in a very timely fashion. Now, I just need the roofing company to come out and tell me how much it’s going to cost to repair the damage to shingles and flashing. The roof isn’t leaking so I am not too worried about it.
You may remember that I was taking care of my friends’ dog while she and her daughter went to the casino in Louisiana, well, after the storm, it took them almost another week before they got to come home. They went for four or five days and ended up staying fifteen and only got home because they went north for quite a ways and then had to come back down to get home, over an eight hour trip rather than four or five! Now, they are taking their last break before the daughter has to go back to work and started out at a Reservation casino in Oklahoma and are now back in Louisiana and will be in tomorrow. They enjoy themselves and it gets my friend out and about and away from the house.
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 suggested to farmers that they rotate their cotton crops and cultivate peanuts.
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.
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.
One year when I was making cookies, I was tired of making drop cookies and had already made peanut butter cookies and flattened them, etc., so I decided to add oatmeal to the dough and make bar cookies! I was so proud of myself for thinking of this and felt I had really discovered something, imagine my surprise, when the next day I opened a sack of flour and the following recipe using oatmeal and making bar cookies was on the leaflet inside my flour. The whole family loved either version and I made them for several years, and they’re still a favorite.
Peanut Butter Squares
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup softened margarine or butter
½ cup chunky butter (smooth is OK also)
1 cup flour
1 cup oatmeal
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Thoroughly mix together the sugars, margarine or butter, egg, and peanut butter. Stir in the remaining ingredients and mix well. Spread into a greased 9×13 pan and bake at 350ºF until golden brown, about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely.
Frost with the following:
1½ cups powdered sugar
¼ cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons milk
Mix together and add additional milk, ½ teaspoon at a time until of spreading consistency. Remove 1/3 cup of frosting and set aside.
To remaining frosting, add 3 tablespoons Hershey’s® cocoa and 1 tablespoon milk. Mix well and spread on baked cookies. Drop reserved frosting on top of chocolate frosting and swirl to make marbleized effect. (Can also add 1 cup chocolate chips to batter before baking).
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.
One of the favorite snacks of my family is to mix equal parts of candy corn with dry roasted, salted peanuts. The salty peanuts sort of take away some of the sweet of the candy corn. I took this to Sr. Citizens this past week and even the lady who truly does not like candy corn declared it very tasty.
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.
Before you start making this, cover a cookie sheet with foil, butter well, and sprinkle with granulated sugar to coat. Set aside. My family and I have used this recipe for over forty years and it comes out great each and every time.
1 cup sugar
1 cup white corn syrup
2 cups shelled, raw peanuts
1 teaspoon baking soda
Combine sugar, peanuts and syrup. Cooking stirring constantly until it is light brown in color, about 16 to 20 minutes.
When mixture is light brown, remove from heat and stir in baking soda. This will cause mixture to foam up. Immediately pour onto prepared cookie sheet and spread to sides of pan. Allow to cool completely, break into pieces and store in airtight container.
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. When I worked at Lieberman’s Department Store in Devine in the early 80s, Mrs. Trollinger brought these to work and graciously shared the recipe.