Friday, December 18, 2009

The Unroasted Nut

I've been testing the smoke detector lately. That is to say I've been using my oven more often. The smoke detector -- actually both smoke detectors -- work great. They pick up the merest hint of smoke that not even I can catch when my nose is facing the open oven while pulling sheet pans off the rack.

Most of my recent mishaps have come from attempting to bake the at-home version of Chex Mix. The recipe is simply and it is easy to make; I'd just never done it in the oven before. When I was a teenager I made a batch of the stuff every time my friends were coming for a sleepover. But with my teenage attention span I always opted for the shorter microwave recipe that did not present quite the same challenges as the oven version.

So when it came time to "toss" the Chex mix baking in my oven, I opened the door, pulled out the rack, and used a spatula and tossed gently. Despite my gentleness a single Chex cereal square made a break for it and landed on the bottom of the oven. I tossed a curse word in after it, shrugged and closed up the oven.

Thirty minutes later the smoke detectors added their opinion of the situation as well.

There is a coded message in the direction toss gently every 15 minutes and that is remove pan from oven, toss gently, and then return to oven every 15 minutes. But did I listen even after the corn Chex square on the bottom did its best impression of a charcoal briquette? Nope. Just got more careful with my tossing.

As part of the recipe I bought a bag of raw peanuts on sale. On sale! I thought. Yay! No where did the more pertinent thought How is "raw" is different from "plain"? cross my mind.

Popping a handful of raw peanuts into your mouth is an unfortunate way to discover the technical meaning of "raw" as it pertains to peanuts. It is an equally awkward time to have the realization that the way a peanut comes out of the ground is not remotely the same as the way it comes out of the Planter's can. Having cracked and eaten peanuts in the shell, it never occurred to me that the infliction of heat, or roasting, on a nut made all that much of a difference other than as a way to adhere salt or other flavor, like honey to the nut.

I was so naive.

That handful of peanuts that I popped into my mouth tasted like peanut butter that had never even heard the word sugar. But with a worse texture than peanut butter. I'm making a face just thinking about it.

What I can't figure out is the reason anyone would want to buy raw peanuts at the grocery store. I'm guessing it's what you would use if you were keen on making your own peanut butter, but this store wasn't exactly a specialty store that would cater to people who care to spend their time doing such things as making their own peanut butter. Do you use raw or roasted nuts when you make candy? I don't know, but that's my best guess. Unless there are people who actually care to spend time roasting peanuts at home. Yes I did it, and no it's not that hard, but why would anyone (other than people who've misunderstood the label and now have to correct their mistake) want to spend several hours roasting their own peanuts?

Highly Recommended