Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Bald P-Nuts

I loved my Grandpop, I just thought he was the best. My best memories about my Grandpop involve food. We ate our way through quite a lot, but I suspect it was genetics and a shared food crazed chromosome.

He had a fig tree (which is decadent to me). I’d show up in SC from Texas and I’d wake up to find Grandpop monitoring the squirrels in the fig tree. We’d go to chase them out and stand in the kitchen eating figs and drinking really awful coffee. It’s a fantastic memory. When he passed away two years ago, I knew that memory was the one I would miss the most.

We’d ride toward my aunt’s house on Yonge’s Island (crazy throw back dudes on the side of road selling the BIGGEST watermelons ever from their beat up 40 year old pick-ups). Grandpop would see them, he would get big eyes and he’d say “let’s pull over and talk to this man.” Then we’d leave with a COLOSSAL watermelon I was certain would pull our tail end down. When we got to my aunt’s house and cracked it open there was no question that it would be the best watermelon ever.

Oh... there was not a shrimp my Grandpop didn’t like; he could sit for several hours peeling and eating shrimp. When Parkinson’s prevented him from peeling shrimp my Aunt Barbara would sit patiently for hours, or so it seemed, and peel him shrimp. Grandpop would eat until her hands could peel no more and then I would peel them. Communicating was hard for him then but he would signal that he was sated by pushing back from the table, smiling very broadly and patting his stomach.

My first boiled peanut was with my Grandpop too. We went to the Pig one day, I had never seen a green peanut. There was a pack of people crowded around a produce stall furiously sifting, I asked Grandpop: “What is it? Why is it so popular?” “PEANUTS!” was the answer. “Get in there and get us some!” He pushed me through the crowd and I did as I was told: me, Grandpop and those other eight people shaking it out for the best peanuts. Turning the pile over looking and looking and turning again. I got in there, dug out the best ones I could find and we went home with a giant bag to boil up for the next few hours with more salt than you care to know about. Like chili, boiled peanuts are usually made by the truck load. My cousin Sonny has this problem solved; he freezes them in quart sized ziplocs - brilliant! He’s always ready to bring a side dish to a party and they never go to waste.

I have been watching the peanuts at the YDFM, they have been awfully small but this weekend I couldn’t take it anymore, they had at least ballooned up 3-4 small nuts per pod and that was good enough for me. I realize a boiled peanut recipe is not really a recipe, but at this time of the year, when I‘d normally be hanging with Grandpop cruising fried fish shacks on the road to Folly Beach it seems right.

Maybe you live somewhere where the side of the road “P-Nut” sign does not exist. They are the ultimate in road vittles so you must have some for your next road trip, jaunt to Grandma’s or next major couch sitting, beer swilling, sports game watching, unbridled salty snacking. They are certainly different than a roasted one most certainly more fun and slightly less messy. This is a smaller, less time-consuming batch.

Maryland Style Boiled Peanuts

1 lb. green peanuts

1/4 cup kosher salt

3/4 cup Old Bay

3 tablespoons tabasco

Put peanuts in a large pot and fill with water, bring to a boil; add the seasonings. When the pot reaches a boil, boil for 45 minutes - 1 hour. This amount of peanuts should not involve the need for refreshing the water in the pot but should the water evaporate, add more water. Cool and serve at room temperature.

Notes: I like my boiled peanuts not overly salty or mushy, salt and cooking time will need to be adjusted if you like yours “traditional”.

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