’17 A To Z Challenge – P

Challenge2017

letter-p

Only because I let him, my dog eats

Peanut Butter

PEANUT BUTTER

Born a slave, George Washington Carver spent his life improving the peanut plant, and championing its uses and the planting of it as a crop in the Southern U.S. Like the oats which made Scottish warriors the men they were, one of his best reasons was that peanuts were a cheap, plentiful food for Negroes, rich in protein and other nutrients.

The peanut plant is a nitrogen-fixing legume which fertilized and re-enriched soil made poor from constant growing of cotton. While he sometimes took public credit for the discoveries of others, aside from the food value of peanuts, Carver found many uses for the nuts and plant.

Peanuts have a variety of industrial end uses. Paint, varnish, lubricating oil, leather dressings, furniture polish, insecticides, and nitroglycerin are made from peanut oil. Soap is made from saponified oil, and many cosmetics contain peanut oil and its derivatives. The protein portion is used in the manufacture of some textile fibers. Peanut shells are used in the manufacture of plastic, wallboard, abrasives, fuel, cellulose (used in rayon and paper), and mucilage (glue).

The food value was where Carver concentrated. He published a small brochure, listing 105 recipes/uses for peanuts.  One of the greatest things to come from peanuts, is peanut butter.  I dig a small dollop onto the tip of a kitchen knife, and dip the dog’s daily antihistamine pill in it.

Peanut butter is just basically finely ground peanuts, although commercial producers add sugars, salt and stabilizers. In my little neck of the universe, in the late 1940s and ‘50s, we still had to stir jars of peanut butter, because the oils would separate out.

In 1922, a chemist developed a process for homogenizing it. In 1928, he sold the rights to a company which marketed it as ‘Peter Pan.’  Apparently before conflict of interest/competition contracts, in 1932, he began producing his own peanut butter under the name ‘Skippy.’  Later, he churned in recovered peanut bits, creating the first chunky peanut butter.

For reasons unknown to me, the son recently stirred the top half of a new jar. Apparently that negates the homogenizing effect, and now the oils must be stirred back in each time we open it.  It also changed the peanut butter from a semi-solid paste, to a drippy sauce.  You have to move quickly to get it where it’s going, or have it run off the knife, onto the kitchen counter.

Peanut butter….it goes anywhere, any time –white bread, rye, bagels, plain or toasted, crackers. It finds its way into Thai food with peanut sauce.  It goes with anything….spread it along with honey, or jam, (Good Old P. B. & J!)  Elvis Presley used to like it in peanut butter and banana sandwiches – although he wanted the bananas mushed, and the assembly fried, like a grilled cheese.

Me? I slice a banana into 3 slabs, lengthwise, and lay it over the PB, on toast – usually rye.  On white toast, I slather Miracle Whip on top of the PB.  It has a spicier taste than plain mayo, and sets off the peanut butter’s taste.  You Americans don’t know what you’re missing.  Then again, I’ve been known to put catsup ketchup, even my Spicy Ketchup, as a spread on toast, and you’ve been lucky enough to miss that, too.

I gotta go check with my bathroom scale, to see if I’m allowed some peanut butter and rye crackers as a snack today. The dog is already looking at me suspiciously.  How about you guys??  Eat it?  Leave it?  Like it?  Hate it?  Partner it with what??  😕

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Condiments’ Comments

ketchup-2

Two tomatoes cross the street. One of the tomatoes gets hit by a car. The other tomato goes “Aw, come on… Catch up!”

A man walks into a bar with a slab of asphalt under his arm and says: “A beer please, and one for the road.”

“TOWEL HEADS”
Recently I received a warning about the use of this politically  incorrect term, so please try to pay attention.  We have been informed that the Islamic terrorists who hate our guts do not like to be called “Towel Heads,” since the item they wear on their heads is actually a small, folded sheet.
Therefore, from this point forward, please refer to them as:
“Little Sheet Heads.”
Thank you for your support and compliance on this delicate matter.

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A little silver-haired lady calls her neighbor and says, “Please come over here and help me. I have a killer jigsaw puzzle, and I can’t figure out how to get started.”
Her neighbor asks, “What is it supposed to be when it’s finished?”

The little silver-haired lady says, “According to the picture on the box, it’s a rooster.”
Her neighbor decides to go over and help with the puzzle. She lets him in and shows him where she has the puzzle spread all over the table.
He studies the pieces for a moment, then looks at the box, then turns to her and says, “First of all, no matter what we do, we’re not going to be able to assemble these pieces into anything resembling a rooster.”
He takes her hand and says, “Secondly, I want you to relax. Let’s have a nice cup of tea, and then,” he says with a deep sigh……
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corn-flakes

Let’s put all the Corn Flakes back in the box.

MEN AND WOMEN
WHO DOES WHAT

A man and his wife were having an argument about who
Should brew the coffee each morning. The wife said,
‘You should do it because you get up first,

And then we don’t have to wait as long to get our coffee.
The husband said, ‘You are in charge of cooking around here and
You should do it, because that is your job,
and I can just wait for my coffee.’

Wife replies, ‘No, you should do it, and
Besides, it is in the Bible that the man should do the coffee.’
Husband replies, ‘I can’t believe that, show me..’
So she fetched the Bible, and opened the New Testament
And showed him at the top of several pages,
That it indeed says ‘HEBREWS’

 

It’s Chili Inside

All right, I warned you I was gonna pass out my recipe for chili.  You can try it and pass out later.

We never had chili when I was a kid.  We lived too far north to even hear of it.  Didn’t know what chili powder was.  My Mom’s spice rack had salt and pepper.  Ketchup was adventurous, although just after the ice-age, we called it catsup.  We were one of the first, daring families in our town to try Chef Boy-Ar-Dee’s boxed pizza mix.  We didn’t have a pizza tin, so we made it on a 9 X 13 cookie tray.  Perforce, it was a thin-crust pizza.  I learned to add a bit of flour to increase the crust, and add barbecue sauce or tomato juice to the kit’s little can of pizza sauce.  I grated extra cheddar for the top, but my mom couldn’t tell me what was in the spice mixture.  The wife has two racks, with 36 spices, and 24 herbs

Chili is a poor family’s meal.  Chili con carne means with meat, and is a small step up.  Often people saved money by adding things to the basic recipe, to stretch it, to feed more kids.  My wife’s family had nine kids.  They needed to stretch it as far as they could.

Basic chili con carne has meat, tomatoes, beans and chili powder.  After that, you can be as creative as you want.  Normally, the con carne means ground beef, but you can use ground pork, ground turkey – dark meat or light.  You can put in steak chunks if you can afford it.  The wife’s family’s recipe is below, complete with secret ingredient.  With lots of exceptions, women are often, merely cooks, following recipes, and men are the more creative chef types.  What I’m saying is, don’t get hung up on how many grains of salt.  Find out what works for you and your family, and go with it.

List Of Ingredients

1 to 1 ½ lbs lean ground beef

1 large cooking onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon chopped/grated garlic, fresh pressed or bottled – more, or less, to taste

1 – 29 oz. Can diced tomatoes

1 – 19 oz. Can red kidney beans

1 – 12 oz. Can Chili-style beans – Optional – if available, or any type of baked beans

1 – 10 oz. Can mushroom stems and pieces – optional

2  tablespoons chili powder – more, or less, to taste

Tabasco sauce, or equivalent, optional, know your eaters’ tastes and limits

Secret Ingredient/Chili Extender – leftover spaghetti, chopped to 1 to 2 inch pieces.  Adds a bit more meat and tomato flavor, as well as cheap carbs.  Strictly optional.

 

Preparation/Cooking Instructions

Basic instruction, Stir, stir, stir.  This is a thick soup/stew.

Chop onion fine

Add onion and garlic, salt and pepper to ground meat in large pot.  Break meat up fine and mix with onion/garlic.   Cook till done and liquid is driven off.  Add tomatoes.  Bring back to light boil.  Add kidney beans, bring back to heat.  Add chili-style or baked beans, bring back to heat.  Add mushrooms, if desired, and chopped, cooked spaghetti, a double handful, or as far as you want to stretch it, bring back to heat.  I add 6 or 7 drops of Tabasco.  BrainRants would use Sriracha.  Your tongue may differ.  Add desired amount of chili powder and stir well. Total preparation time to this point, including chopping onion and garlic, 45 minutes.  Turn heat to minimum and allow to meld.  Stir occasionally.  A half hour to hour allows flavors to blend.  You can add small chunks of cheddar, Monterey Jack, or other cheese to go con queso, stir in, or serve separately.  Serve with saltine crackers, nacho-style chips, or toast.  Serves four to five hungry men, or an entire church social.

I had a hilarious story about super-hot Texas Chili that I was going to include, but I’ve rambled on too long with this cooking show, and I can’t seem to find it in the computer files.  What I think I’ll do is wait a couple of days, until you are allowed back in the house after all these beans, and then post the chili story as a follow-up, when I can find it.  Happy eating.

Getting A Real Education

When I was going to school, I never thought about the teachers.  That is, I never thought about where they had come from, or just how they ended up where they were.  In public school, grades 1 to 8, they just were.  Some were nicer. Some were more inspiring, but generally, they just were, a necessary evil.  As I proceeded through high school, I started to wonder about some of the idiosyncrasies.  It wasn’t till I became more adult, that I could look back on those who had helped mold me, and understand what had molded them.

When each class graduates from a teachers’ college, the ones at the top of the class get to pick where they will teach.  It might be in a big city, with a bigger pay, or their home town, or where a husband or wife already has a job.  The ones at the bottom of the list wind up in increasingly remote, undesirable locations.  My high school wasn’t exactly the restaurant at the end of the universe, there was another 100 Kilometers to the top of the Bruce Peninsula, but we got some “interesting” instructors.

Because of the size of the school, most teachers had to teach more than one subject.  Sometimes the juxtaposition was laughable.  The same single male teacher who taught Chemistry, Physics, Botany and Zoology, had to teach boys’ Phys-ed.  Called Chick, or Chicky, but never to his face, he was five foot three, and was never seen without a suit and tie.  He taught me what little gymnastics I could absorb.  The high-bar that the jocks could just reach up and grab, he had to jump for, but where they couldn’t get on it, he wound himself up like a little monkey.  It was fascinating, watching him whirl around, with his rule-violating street-shoes going one way, and his tie streaming in another.  When he wasn’t busy teaching, he was busy drinking and going to dance-halls to try to pick up the same teenage girls he had just taught in class.

Another of our male teachers had to teach English to grades nine and ten, and Mathematics to eleven and twelve.  He had a speech impediment, and it was all we could do, not to laugh when he talked about turdy-tree and a turd.  I don’t know how much of his own English education he slept through.  He taught us the story of the Daedalus and Icarus, who made wings and escaped by flying away, only, he pronounced them Duh-lawd-us and Iraq-us.  I told him one time, that his humor was very intrinsic, and the English teacher smiled and thanked me.

He used to sit on the right corner of his desk, cross his legs and swing the top one in and out, and invariably kick over the waste-basket.  Clang, clang, clang.  He’d pick up the mess, put the pail right back where it had been, cross his legs, and kick it over again.  I sat at the back of his class.  One day, he was droning on, and I picked a spot on the ceiling and stared at it.  Took a minute or two, but suddenly he asked me a question.  Without a second’s hesitation, I gave him the right answer, never taking my eyes off the spot.  Now he had to wander back, while lecturing, and stare up where I was looking, making the whole class wonder what in Hell was up there.

One year, the theme for the senior prom was Carousel, a soft pretty idea.  The movie, based on the play, had been released a few years earlier.  On a bulletin board across from the office, the notice went up.  Just as the Principal walked by, I loudly exclaimed, “Oh look, the theme for the prom is carousal”, an apt name, meaning mobile Bacchanalia.  Sure enough, the Principal’s morning’s announcements included one about the upcoming carousal.  Only about half the students *got it*, but my work had been done.  I wasn’t a shit-disturber in school, really I wasn’t.

The shop teacher was like every shop teacher, only, maybe a little more.  He was five-foot four….in any direction.  He was a little pig of a man, but I kinda liked him, even if a lot of the guys didn’t.  His vocabulary included phrases like, “It was darker than the inside of a pig’s ass”, and, in referring to the embarrassment he had inflicted on some poor student, “He turned as red as ten bottles of ketchup.”  I don’t know why he thought ten bottles, or even two, would be any redder than one.

He owned the standard shop-coat and, judging from the food stains on it, it was older than any of us.  He liked to put it on at the beginning of the first class, stuff his hands in the pockets like Napoleon, playing with himself, and strut around self-importantly.  One of the students was a farm-boy whose parents raised ducks.  He brought in two duck-eggs, half-filled the pockets with sawdust from the circular saw, dropped an egg in each pocket, and tapped them with a hammer.  Try not to laugh, go ahead, just try not to.

In the winter, he liked to hang the shop-coat on a peg right above the hot air register.  That way it was nice and warm to put on in the morning.  We had the last shop class of the week.  He wandered over and hung the coat up, and one devious classmate held his attention while his conspirator friend put a piece of Limburger cheese in each pocket.  Perhaps one of them was the humiliated kid with the ketchup, or maybe they were just little assholes.  We were told that the stench, Monday morning, was impressive.  The windows were open to the winter, all day.  He went without Old Faithful for a day, and came in the next day with a new coat.

I learned to be an educated, responsible, mature adult from these role-models, I assure you I did!