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The Ledger - EST. 1978 - Nashville Edition

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VOL. 37 | NO. 48 | Friday, November 29, 2013

Perfect peanut brittle in any weather

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I have already written an article on peanuts. As you might remember, it was all about how George Washington Carver discovered the many uses of peanuts – one of them being peanut butter – after the Civil War.

Slavery brought the peanut – at that time called groundnut – from Africa, but Americans thought they were unfit to eat and used them for feeding livestock.

Until I read the book, “A Long Way Gone,” by Ishmael Beah, I hadn’t realizes the groundnut he was referring to in his story as one of their staple food items was indeed the peanut. Sometimes it takes me a little longer to put 2+2 together.

Microwave Peanut Brittle

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup white corn syrup
1 1/2 cups raw peanuts
1/2 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
Dash of salt

Put sugar and syrup in a bowl (glass works the best), and microwave for 2 1/2 minutes on high. Stir mixture and microwave for 2 1/2 more minutes on high. Stir in peanuts and microwave 2 1/2 more minutes on high. Remove from microwave and add salt, butter, vanilla, and baking soda. Stir mixture rapidly until it is foamy.

Pour mixture onto a greased cookie sheet; you can bump the sheet on the counter to make mixture spread out more but do not try to spread mixture by touching it for this will make the peanut brittle very hard and unable to eat. The times in this recipe are for a 1200-watt microwave you may have to adjust times for different wattage microwaves.

Anyway, that is how the peanut got its start in America. So thank you to all of the ancestors of African descent for bestowing upon America the wonderful peanut, and thank you to George Washington Carver for helping us to realize the peanut’s potential with his paper, “How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it for Human Consumption.”

Included in Carver’s paper is a recipe for peanut wafers, which actually is a form of peanut brittle.

Peanut Brittle has always had a reputation of being difficult to make, so much so that some people have never even attempted it.

Some cooks have said the temperature and humidity outside have to be just right.

Some prefer to use a candy thermometer, while others prefer to use the old-fashioned cold-water way to test if the candy is done.

Well, I have learned from a good friend a recipe so simple all you need is a microwave, a measuring cup and a spoon. No worries about the humidity, the hard-crack stage or how long to let it boil.

This recipe was given to me by Mr. Lane Burton, who lives in Mountain Home, Ark. I couldn’t believe it was so simple.

Anyway, this is an easy way to make Peanut Brittle and, come to find out, this recipe had been around quite a while.

But I was one of those cooks that has always thought it was too difficult to fool with.

Who knew?