Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Ole Fashion Peanut Butter Cookies

Ole Fashion Peanut Butter Cookies
Dorcas Annette Walker

March 1st is National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day! National Peanut Butter Day turned into a National Peanut Week in 1941 and expanded to a month-long celebration in 1974. Suffolk, Virginia has an annual peanut festival each October including a peanut butter sculpture contest. And if you don’t get enough peanut butter in March, hang on as National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day is coming up April 2nd. So to start out the month of March, I’m sharing an old fashion Mennonite recipe that I’ve made through the years as my kids grew up. Last Sunday night I took a batch of my peanut butter cookies to our home church’s bi-monthly birthday celebration where they disappeared fast. I was told over and over how delicious my cookies were. There are some recipes that time and age doesn’t diminish. My Ole Fashion Peanut Butter Cookies are one.

Peanuts originated in South America where the Incas were known to have made a paste out of peanuts. Today Georgia, Alabama, and Florida are the three states where peanuts are primarily grown. In 1890 an unknown St. Louis physician encouraged a food product company to process and package ground peanut paste as a vegetarian protein supplement for people with bad teeth. About the same time, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg began experimenting with peanuts and obtained a patent in 1895. This peanut butter was not as tasty as the peanuts were steamed instead of roasted. In 1903, Dr. George Washington Carver began his peanut research and developed more than 300 uses for peanuts. He is considered by many to be the father of the peanut industry. Krema Products Company in Columbus, Ohio began selling peanut butter in 1908, is the oldest known peanut butter company, and still is in operation today. In 1958, Procter & Gamble introduced Jif Peanut Butter and now operates the world’s largest peanut butter plant producing 250,000 jars per day. A jar of peanut butter, well known throughout the Pennsylvania Dutch country that is made and produced by my cousin, sits on my pantry shelf bearing my maiden name: Landis Peanut Butter.

Peanut butter today is made similar like 100 years ago. By law it must contain 90% peanuts with no artificial sweeteners, colors or preservatives. Some brands add 7% natural sweeteners and 1% salt for taste, plus a stabilizer to keep the peanuts and oil from separating. Peanuts are planted after the last frost in April using specially grown and treated peanut kernels from the previous year’s crop. The peanut plant grows into a green oval-leafed plant about eighteen inches tall producing delicate yellow flowers. Peanuts are harvested 120 to 160 days after planting by lifting the plants from the ground with a digger, shaking the soil from the plant, and laying it up-side-down to dry in the sun for 2-3 days. Peanuts are picked from the vine by a windrow and dumped into wagons, taken to buying stations where the peanuts are weighed, graded, and inspected. From there the peanuts travel to shelling plants where they are separated by size. Peanut butter manufacturers roast the peanuts in special ovens and rapidly cool the peanuts to retain an even color and prevent the loss of too much oil. Then the outer skin is removed, the kernels are split, and the peanuts are cleaned and sorted a final time. Peanuts are ground in two stages as one long grinding process would damage the flavor. In the second stage, salt, sweetener, and stabilizer are added. While peanut butter has no artificial preservatives an opened jar is still stored on the self at room temperature. Peanut butter is known to lower blood pressure, protect against breast cancer, and fight adult-onset diabetes. Peanuts are cholesterol free and low in saturated fat. Americans eat three pounds of peanut butter per person each year- roughly about 700 million pounds. Two peanut farmers have been elected president: Thomas Jefferson and Jimmy Carter. One acre of peanuts will make 30,000 peanut butter sandwiches. One final fact: peanuts are not nuts at all- they are legumes like beans, peas, and lentils!

Ole Fashion Peanut Butter Cookies

In a large bowl cream together:
1 c shortening
1 c peanut butter (I use crunchy)
1 c brown sugar
1 c regular sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

3 c self-rising flour
Mix together thoroughly. Form balls from a heaping tablespoon and place on greased cookie sheets. Flatten the ball of dough with a fork. Bake at 350º for fifteen minutes. Store cookies in an air-tight container. This recipe makes about three and one-half dozen cookies!

Weekly tip: Old fashion or natural peanut butter will separate. Stir in the oil as the peanut butter is still good!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, syndicated columnist, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: dorcaswalker@twlakes.net For more information check out: www.dorcasannettewalker.com


Faith Young said...

mmmmmmmmmmm I LOVE peanut butter cookies. Mom made them often and put them in the big yellow cookie jar shaped like a bee hive. (The little handle on the lid was a bee!) I have wondered what made the difference then and now: when I was a kid we always kept cookies in cookie jars yet I don't ever remember eating a stale cookie. Now when we make cookies, we're so concerned about air-tight seals, plastic wrap, putting a piece of bread in the container to keep the cookies soft, on and on. And I have nibbled and rejected stale cookies!

Dorcas Annette Walker said...

I think that to kids, especially back in the dark ages (ha!), cookies were special and therefore tasted great. Our mother's/grandmother's homemade cookies were the best!
I'm glad that my peanut butter cookie recipe brought back this memory of your mother.

Anonymous said...

Hey & hello,
I go and launch our new web site http://www.landispeanutbutter.com and decide to google search Landis Peanut Butter to see if I can find the site. No luck in finding the web site but I find your blog with Landis Peanut Butter in it. Hope you are all doing well.