By Gini Rainey
As a kid growing up in mid-America in the 50s, I had it all and didn’t realize it – you know, that time when life was so much simpler. Those were the days, my friends! Those of you who survived the 50s drank water out of a garden hose, knew it was time to go home when the sun went down, roller-skated in the summer and ice skated in the winter, made dandelion chains, ate apples right from the tree, and laid on your back making animals out of the clouds. We played marbles, hopscotch and four square, rode our bikes like maniacs, skinned our knees, ate popsicles to cool off, jumped off high-flying swings, and made a wish on the first star of the night.
When I was in elementary school, we lived so close to the school, I was able to walk home at noon for a nice, leisurely hot lunch lovingly made for me by my mom. Mom would always ask me what I wanted, and my answer pretty much was always the same: a peanut butter sandwich and chicken noodle soup. In fact, I seem to remember her saying one time that she didn’t know why she even bothered to ask because the answer was always the same.
Thus began my love affair with the butter of the lowly legume that George Washington Carver elevated to virtual mega-status with the invention of over 300 different uses and products that use peanuts. So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to find out that when I saw this cute set of books that were cleverly packaged in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich shaped box, I just had to have them! Published in 2005 by Sterling Publishing Company, “The Magic of Peanut Butter” and “The Magic of Jelly” are filled with 100 recipes each that are fun and delicious!
Filled with illustrations that smack of Norman Rockwell along with vintage-type photographs, these books are as much fun to read and look at as the recipes are to make. Just when you think the only thing you can do with peanut butter and jelly is sandwiches and cookies, these books will turn you on to a whole new way of thinking. From Peanut & Lime Shrimp Sauté and P. Nutty Quesadillas to French-Toasted Ham Sandwiches and Crispy Shrimp Dippers, there’s no stopping the good tastes once you get started cooking with these books. Another plus is the ease and simplicity of the recipes makes this a pretty good set of books for the younger chefs in your home.
One recipe that totally jumped out at me was for Grilled Beef Satay with Spicy Peanut Sauce. Fairly easy to execute, the finished product will impress the folks at your dining table. Starting with 1 pound beef top round steak (about one inch thick) cut into ½ inch strips, marinade in a zip lock bag, in the refrigerator for two hours in following: ½ cup Italian salad dressing, 1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro, and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger. Meanwhile, make the peanut sauce: in a small bowl blend ½ cup creamy peanut butter, ½ cup Italian dressing, ¼ teaspoon hot or mild curry powder, and 1 teaspoon ground red pepper. Set aside.
Remove the steak from the marinade and thread on skewers. Grill the steak, turning once and brushing frequently with the marinade, for two minutes or until steak is desired doneness and serve with the peanut sauce. If you want to go one more step fancy, you can peel, seed and dice a large cucumber and combine with ½ cup finely chopped red onion, 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro, and ½ cup Italian dressing and serve on the side. Then all you have to do is sit back and get ready for the compliments to start rolling in.