People frequently give me their culinary cast-offs–old cookbooks, oddball gadgets, specialty pans, food they don’t know what to do with. They figure I’m a professional. They can throw it away or give it to me. I’ll know what to do with it.
Last Christmas my husband calls. A friend has a five-pound box of raw peanuts. A “gift.” She doesn’t want them. Do I? I’m like the sucker for kittens on death row. I’m thinking she’ll probably toss those peanuts if I don’t take them. It’s three days before Christmas, but I tell David to bring ‘em home. I’ll find a use for them.
If they were dry roasted and salted they’d get box seats in the pantry. But these peanuts were raw. Only Jimmy Carter would know what to do with these. So I banished them to the cheap seats in the garage and forgot about them. Until a few weeks ago. I needed to mail a mug and I needed a small box. Turns out the perfect shipping container housed those five pounds of raw Birdsong Peanuts. My eureka delight turned quickly to guilt. I should have given those peanuts a purpose long ago.
Co-opting the box, I poured the peanuts into a tin and confirmed they were, in fact, edible. The cold winter garage had preserved them. Now what?
I Googled raw peanuts. Hopeless. I called the peanut company. Birdsong said there should have been recipe sheet in the box. Not there, I said. They’d e-mail me another.
They did, but of the eight recipes, only two called for peanuts in the raw. Fortunately, both were simple and appealing. French Fried Peanuts were just as they sounded—yummy deep-fried and salted. There was peanut brittle too.
For good measure, I put out a Twitter plea and friend Shannon Yuen offered her Hawaiian husband’s recipe for star anise-boiled peanuts As a Southerner who grew up eating boiled peanut in the shell, I was in.
In fact, all three recipes—Deep-Fried Peanuts, Peanut Brittle, and Boiled Peanuts—transported me to the 1960’s Florida panhandle where I grew up. In those days, Orlando was the defacto Florida border. Anything north of that town was just southern Alabama and Georgia. I remembered fried Spanish peanuts in the waxed paper sleeves you’d get at the circus, the fair, even the local department store. Peanut brittle is still a treat my Mom and Dad make every Christmas. And the boiled peanuts–OMG. Eating them out of the shell, I’m a kid again.