Thursday, February 17, 2011

Homemade Peanut Butter & Bread Pudding for Black History Month

This month is Black History Month, and I've been reading some books to the girls about different African-Americans who have made a positive impact in the world.  As I was looking at my bookshelf with curriculum and teaching resources, I came across a book I purchased a long time ago.  It's called Kids Explore America's African-American Heritage by the Westridge Young Writers Workshop. 

There is a section in the book about George Washington Carver.  I shared with the girls what it said about Dr. Carver:  "On a cold winter night in the Ozark mountains, George Washington Carver, then a tiny baby, was traded for a race horse worth $300."  He is "king of the peanut .... He used the peanut to make face powder, printer's ink, and soap, to name just a few." 

We talked about how and where peanuts grow.  Many years ago, I tried to grow peanuts.  I was curious to see how they grew and if it was difficult to do.  Minnesota doesn't have a terribly long growing season compared to the Southern states.  However, that particular summer there were enough warm days so the peanuts could grow. 

The peanut harvest was an interesting process.  As the roots were exposed, so were all the peanuts.  It was pretty neat to be holding peanuts that I grew.  However, the amount of peanuts for the space and time required, in my opinion, wasn't worth it so I haven't grown them since.  The peanuts taste rather bland when they are harvested since they aren't roasted or salted.     

Back to Dr. Carver now.  Carver discovered more than 300 uses for peanuts and hundreds more uses for soybeans, pecans, and sweet potatoes. While he may have made peanut butter during his time studying the peanut, peanut butter has existed since the time of the Aztecs who made it from ground peanuts.

In memory of him Dr. Carver, the girls learned how to make homemade peanut butter.  In the Kids Explore, there was a recipe for peanut butter:


2 cups peanuts
1 1/2 tablespoons sunflower or peanut oil (we used vegetable oil)


Use a blender or food processor to grind the peanuts.  Use a smaller blade if you want finer-ground peanuts . Use bowls to catch the peanuts as they are ground. 

Sophia and Olivia grinding peanuts with oil and honey
to make homemade peanut butter

Pleace 1/4 cup peanuts and 1 tablespoon oil in blender or grinder.  Blend at high speed for 10-15 seconds.  Slow motor and continue to grindfor about 45 seconds.  Use a spatula to remove from blender.  If peanuts butter is too dry, add more oil. 

Spread on crackers and serve immediately.  Store leftover peanut butter in an airtight jar in the refrigerator. 

Homemade peanut butter on crackers

Note:  We made some changes to the recipe.  We used a Vita-Mix mixer so we could add the peanuts and oil together and grind it at various speeds.  Since we like honey-roasted peanut butter, we decided to add some honey from our beehives.  We didn't measure it; we just poured a some in - probably the equivalent to a tablespoon or two.  Then we put the Vita-Mix mixer on again to make the peanut butter smooth (but it still had peanut chunks in it).

We all thought the peanut butter tasted great.  It was easy to make; and didn't have any preservatives which is even better.  It would be more expensive to make-your-own peanut butter since the recipe doesn't yield much.  So, we're using it like it is a special treat.

The other recipe we made was bread pudding.  According to Kids Explore America's African-American Heritage, "In the olden days, people could not afford to throw anything away.  If they had a lot of leftover old bread (the bread that was made with flour, not cornmeal), they would crumble it and save it. 

"The whole message behind bread pudding is people could not afford to waste or throw away food, so they recycled it.  People back then used everything.  With bread pudding, they used the stale bread to make a delicious dessert."

Bread pudding

This is the recipe for bread pudding:


4 cups dried bread crumbs (we used whole wheat and wheat berry bread most often so the bread pudding - perhaps - is a bit darker than normal and more "hearty" than if we used white bread)
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk (we used dairy-free milk)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (we doubled this)
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (we used mace instead since we were out of nutmeg; and doubled it)
2 tablespoons butter (we used dairy-free butter)
1 1/2 cup raisins


Mix all the above ingredients.  Place in 350 degree oven.  Bake for 45 minutes or until the center is firm to the touch.  Can be served hot or cold.

Sophia mixing the ingredients for bread pudding

Again, we made some modifications to the recipe (they are noted above next to the ingredients).  Also, we made only a half a batch since we weren't sure what it would taste like.  (As a side note, this was a great math lesson on division and fractions.) 

Olivia doesn't like raisins so I knew she wouldn't try to eat the bread pudding.  Sophia and I tasted it shortly after it came out of the oven.  It has a different texture than what we thought it would have.  It's not like pudding that one normally thinks of when pudding is mentioned (e.g., vanilla or chocolate pudding that's creamy or soft).  This pudding is more solid and substantial. 

The girls enjoyed making food as it related to Black History Month.  Doing hands-on activities will (hopefully) help them remember the information more since they are actively doing something rather than just listening.


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