My mother used to tell my sister Sue something important two times and would never tell me once. Or vice versa. Then, there was the time she locked herself out of her house three times. It could have been more because the third time she came to the bank to get my key, she told me she wasn't bringing it back again and I could just pick it up later. I teased her that I was keeping track of everything for future reference.

You know what they say about paybacks — my daughter Sarah is now keeping notes on her mother.

For more than 50 years, I have loved Elvis. Last Tuesday, I decided my column this week would honor Elvis because I thought his birthday would've been tomorrow, Jan. 16. Somehow, I got the actual date of his birthday, Jan. 8, and the date of his death, Aug. 16, mixed up.

Yes, Sarah, I have to agree that something was amiss, and that is worth noting. That error is almost unforgettable.

So even though it's late, let's still celebrate Elvis with one of the ingredients of his favorite sandwich. With its fiber, protein and an unsaturated fat to saturated fat ratio that resembles olive oil, peanut butter may have been one of the healthiest foods consumed by the King.

These days, lots of people suffer from nut allergies, so if you are lucky enough to be able to enjoy peanut butter, you know its flavor goes well with so many foods. It's been around for a long time and is recognized by some name brands such as Jif, Skippy and Peter Pan. If you eat peanut butter regularly, you probably have a preference. All those jars lined up from which to choose lead Americans to consume $800 million worth annually.

It is important to check the ingredients in store-bought peanut butter. Less is best. Peanuts and maybe a little salt. Or you can make your own.

More natural, homemade peanut butter usually starts with dry roasted peanuts that have been heated in a revolving oven at 800 degrees then roasted at 320 degrees for 40 to 60 minutes. The homemade texture is a little rougher than store-bought but can be made smoother by adding a little peanut oil when blending.

When you first start blending, you will swear it won't come together because it will be crumbly and paste-like. It takes a good 5 minutes before you will see the resemblance of butter.

Homemade peanut butter will separate naturally, so a good tip is to rotate storing it right side up and upside down. Each time you turn the container over, the oil will work its way back to the other side and mix back into the peanut butter so you shouldn't have to stir.

Something new to me is powdered peanut butter. The peanuts have been pressed to remove most of the oil then ground into a fine powder. The powder can be rehydrated with water. That makes it lower in calories but also removes some of the good oil. It can be sprinkled on oatmeal, stirred into cake and cookie batter, shaken on popcorn and used in sauces.

There's no definitive guide as to the shelf life of this product, but keeping in a cool place and sealed will add to the time. It's listed as anywhere from six months to 10 years. An interesting alternative for some, but I don't expect Elvis would have favored it.

Today's first recipe is pretty simple. Use only peanuts or flavor it up a little. The next recipe is savory, which is a little more difficult find. There are lots of peanut butter dessert recipes but few main-dish recipes. There are some good Thai recipes out there, and the wing recipe hints at that.

The pie is great for summer, but don't we all still enjoy ice cream when the weather is chilly? So easy and so rich and like a peanut butter sundae. Save room for dessert or eat it first. These recipes are from Taste of Home.

Thank you to the International Literacy Association's invite to visit it tomorrow night. Looking forward to meeting everyone and enjoying different soups for dinner. How did they know?

Happy belated birthday to Elvis, and happy eating.


Grandma's chunky peanut butter

1 3/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts

1/4 teaspoon salt, optional

1/4 teaspoon grated orange rind, optional

Chop 1/4 cup peanuts and set aside. Put remaining peanuts in blender. Cover and process 5 minutes or until spreadable, occasionally scraping side of bowl. Stir in chopped nuts and add salt and orange peel if desired. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour. Keep refrigerated for up to 1 month. Yields 1 cup.


Peanutty chicken wings

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/3 cup honey

1/4 cup soy sauce

3 tablespoons canola oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon curry powder

2 1/2 pounds chicken wings, cut into 3 pieces, tips discarded

In large bowl, combine all ingredients except wings until blended. Add wings and stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours.

Transfer to ungreased 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes, until chicken juices run clear. Yields 8 servings.


Freezer peanut butter pie

1 quart vanilla ice cream, softened

1 (9-inch) graham cracker crust

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/3 cup light corn syrup

Chocolate syrup

Chopped peanuts or walnuts

Spread half the ice cream onto crust. Combine peanut butter and corn syrup; spread over ice cream. Top with remaining ice cream. Drizzle with chocolate syrup and sprinkle with nuts.

Cover and freeze 3 to 4 hours. Remove from freezer 15 minutes before serving. Yields 6 to 8 servings.

Cheryle Finley is a food columnist for The Joplin Globe. Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.

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