Pâté for Children

Le beurre d’arachide est pâté pour les enfants!
(Peanut butter is pâté for children!)

Brigitte Bardot
A six-year-old Brigitte Bardot but I don’t think that’s the Kraft Peanut Butter Bear.
Uncredited – Elle Magazine

I have seen this sentiment attributed to a few people. However I like to think that as she lolled on the beach in Cannes Brigitte absently sucked on her thumb and forefinger entwined in a wild lock of blond hair and thought wistfully of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

In previous posts I have given laud and glory to the pleasures to be had from the simple turning of the seeds of Arachis hypogaea into a creamy or crunchy goodness that someone once likened unto being kissed by a goddess (the divine Mme Bardot?) under a rainbow. Until I did a bit of Googling I did not know that it was Marcellus Gilmore Edson, a Montréal chemist, who in 1884 patented a process of making a paste the “consistency like that of butter, lard, or ointment” from peanuts. Edson developed the idea of peanut paste as a delicious and nutritious foodstuff for people who had difficulty chewing solid food – an not uncommon complaint in those days. It went on to become a breakfast spread on toast with jam, a lunchtime standby, as a peanut sauce in Pseudo-Asian cooking*, a cookie favourite, a candy filling, and a bread.

The flower of the Ground nut – after it has been pollinated the petals fall off and the ovary or peg turns away from the plant and down into the soil. The embryo turns horizontal and forms into a peanut pod. Planting to harvest takes about four-five months.

Yes I did say “bread” in the previous paragraph. It seems bread making has become the work for idle hands these days. Always on the cutting edge I began making bread at the first sign of winter snow so the smell of a yeasty kitchen has been pretty standard around here at least once a week long before lock-down. Today I thought I’d take a break from my go-to white toast bread and try something that wasn’t quite as kneady and didn’t required three risings.

Here’s the result – Depression era peanut butter bread.

It is delicious – at least to me a peanut butter lover – and it matches perfectly with jam. And the aroma of it cooking filled the kitchen with a rich peanut butter smell sort of like when you open that first Reese’s.

It’s a recipe from a depression era cookbook published by Lake of the Woods Milling, a Canadian company that’s been around since 1888 and produces Five Roses Flour. They began publishing cookbooks in 1913 and it was updated at regular intervals, in both French and English, right up to the beginning of this century. Reading through them it would be possible to trace the baking trends in both English and French households (they were not always the same). This particular recipe from the 1932 edition doesn’t appear in a later English edition but does appear in a French version from roughly the same period.

“A Guide to Good Cooking” is entirely made and printed in Canada – by Canadian paper-makers and printers. Canadian housewives can also help their country by insisting on Canadian-made goods and Canadian-grown foodstuffs.
Written in 1932 but highly applicable today.
Photo by Caribou Collectibles

Being a recipe from the depression it contains very few ingredients and none that couldn’t be found in a ordinary pantry or that would have been costly. There are no eggs, butter or shortening which would have been expensive at the time. It takes 5 minutes to put together, 1 hour to cook, and a leisurely morning with coffee to enjoy.

Peanut Butter Bread

Preheat oven to 325º F
Lightly grease a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.

2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup peanut butter

Mix together dry ingredients (I use my mother’s old tin sifter).
Mix in the milk and then the peanut butter.
Scrap into the greased loaf pan.
Bake for 1 hour.
Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes than turn out onto a wire rack to cool further.

The next time I make it – and I will make it again – I may just add a few extra tablespoons of peanut butter. Keep in mind that the type of peanut butter you use will change the flavour. Unfortunately products such as Kraft have more sugar and corn syrup now than it did when this recipe was first published. I used Kirkland Smooth which is almost 100% peanuts but it would be interesting to try with crunchy. And I’m thinking this would make good French Toast.

*No respectable cook in Asia would use peanut butter in their sauce. Peanuts are ground by hand and then cooked with other ingredients to create the sauces for satay and other dishes.

The word for May 26th is:
Bread /bred/ /brɛd/: [1. noun 2. Intransitive verb]
1.1 Food made of a flour, water, and yeast or another leavening agent, mixed together and baked.
1.2 The bread or wafer used in the Eucharist.
1.3 The food that is required for daily life.
1.4 Money – informal use
2. To coat food in a crumbs before cooking
Middle English brēad, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch brood and German Brot.
Before the Norman Invasion the universal word for bread was hlaf, like our modern “loaf.” It is strange that Frenchified Middle English adapted a German word that originally meant morsel or a piece.

A New Revelation – II

As I mentioned in the previous post one of the first things I saw this morning was a video from my friend Gillian. It had been a restless night and our Nora was requesting liberation and a walk at 0630. As I poured my first cup of coffee I watched this recreation of Alvin Ailey’s Rocka My Soul from his iconic Revelations by members of his American Dance Theatre. When I reposted it on Facebook I made the comment that if Ailey had never created anything else – and he created much much more – he still would deserve his place amongst the greats of the dance world.

The word for May 21 is:
Revelation /ˌrevəˈlāSH(ə)n/ /ˌrɛvəˈleɪʃ(ə)n/: [noun]
1. The divine or supernatural disclosure to humans of something relating to human existence or the world.
2. A surprising and previously unknown fact, especially one that is made known in a dramatic way.
1. From Late Latin revelare “to lay bare” Late Latin noun revelatio Middle English c. 14th century revelation.
2. Was first used in this sense in 1862.
I think both definitions apply to Ailey’s remarkable piece.

A New Revelation – I

A video that a friend shared on Facebook this morning (which I will put up on a separate post) reminded me of one of those occasions that brought pure joy in the theatre. A joy that was about the energy of sharing something with a group of performers and 900 others that I fear may be a thing of the past. I can only hope with all my heart that fear doesn’t become the reality of the future.

Willy Or Won't He

At the end of last week’s performance of Revelations by the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre I joined the rest of the audience at the NAC in the ubiquitous Ottawa standing ovation – a tradition which I abhor with all my being. But in this case the pure energy that this marvellous troupe gave off as they launched in to the joyous dance that Ailey created to “Rocka My Soul” more than 50 years ago had  me on my feet clapping and swaying along with the rest of the audience.

Indeed the whole evening, that had begun with Streams – another Ailey piece, was an energizing experience.  But the company, recently revitalized under new artistic director Robert Battle, doesn’t rely on energy alone: the Ailey tradition of a solid ground in the techniques of ballet married to the modern, Broadway and ethnic dance forms was evident in all the dancing.  Ulysses…

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Mercoledi Musicale

After I had experienced a less than restful night I woke up this morning to find my friend Norm in Upper Granville in the Annapolis Valley had sent me this link. The combination of humans and nature making music in this setting brought the day and life into a focus that was most needed.

Norm and his partner own a wonderful shop that lives up to its name and is filled with Treasures & Collectibles. As with many small businesses they are currently closed on site but all types of goodies show up on their Facebook pages.

And as we know it is the small business – particularly those that often depend on the tourist and drop in customer – that will suffer most in this pandemic. The big box stores will not suffer and Walmart, Home Depot, and Costco will still be around. It is the local entrepreneur that will bear the brunt of the economic fall out. Let’s try and keep that in mind when we do our shopping both online and in person.

The word for May 20th is:
Xylophone /ˈzīləˌfōn/ /ˈzaɪləˌfoʊn/: [noun]
A musical instrument played by striking a row of wooden bars of graduated length with one or more small wooden or plastic mallets.
Mid 19th century name for an ancient Asian and African instrument: from xylon-‘of wood’ + phone – ‘sound’.
One commenter referred to this video as “These trees listen to beautiful music being played on the bones of their dead relatives.” Either a very beautiful or slightly creepy observation. I leave it up to you to decide.

Lunedi Lunacy

So Mathew tells us to “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s. clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” He didn’t mention pissed off squirrels – mind I’m not sure there are squirrels in the Holy Land.

The word for May 18th is:
Prophet /ˈpräfət/ /ˈprɑfət/: [noun]
1.1 A person regarded as an inspired teacher or proclaimer of the will of God.
1.2 A person who advocates or speaks in a visionary way about a new belief, cause, or theory.
1.3 A person who makes or claims to be able to make predictions.
When given the definite article the:
2.1 In Islam Mohammad
2.2 In Mormonism Joseph Smith or one of his successors
When given a definite article and in the plural:
3.1 In Christianity the Old Testament books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and the twelve minor prophets.
3.2 In Judaism one of the three canonical divisions of the Hebrew Bible, distinguished from the Law and the Hagiographa.
Middle English from Old French prophete, via Latin from Greek prophētēs ‘spokesman’, from pro ‘before’ + phētēs ‘speaker’ (from phēnai ‘speak’).
I prophesy that very few people will have read this through.