boiled peanuts

Ah, Charleston… we meet again.

IMG_1750I spent a week last month in Charleston, not quite a tourist, and yet certainly not a native. It was a family time, full of early morning runs, afternoons at the beach, and food-filled evenings.

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I spent dusk of the summer solstice kayaking in pursuit of dolphins with my brother. The next morning we were up at dawn, stand up paddle board surfing at the Isle of Palms.

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At times, it felt like I was eating my way through the city: shrimp and grits at Hanks, a memorable order of fried green tomatoes topped with crab at Fleet Landing, and some wonderful savory scones from Wild Flour.

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Yet my favorite times weren’t our nights on the town, but rather evenings in: sipping gin and tonics with my GRAND-mother on her back patio, making key lime pie with my littlest (now not so little) sister, and hosting a mess of cousins for a make your own taco night that featured mahi mahi one of them caught earlier that week (fishing runs in the family).

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One day, my littlest sister, Boo, inquired about boiled peanuts. If you’ve never had a boiled peanut, you’re missing out. Yes, they’re peanuts, but rather than the crunchy treat most are used to, boiled peanuts are soft and salty, and half the fun is peeling the little guys open to get to the nugget of meat inside. You can’t help but run into them in the south: at the grocery store, in gas stations and roadside stands. It seems that everyone below the Mason-Dixon line must love them some boiled peanuts.

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Anyway, Boo wanted to make her own boiled peanuts. “I don’t think it’s that tough,” I told her. “I think the hardest part would be finding raw peanuts.” Low and behold, the next day we were in the produce section of the Piggly Wiggly when we ran into a bin of them. Boo’s face lit up, and we brought a pound or so home.

IMG_1748We set the raw peanuts in a pot of salted water and left them to simmer. A few hours later we had boiled peanuts. It was really that easy.

Hot boiled peanuts

1 lb raw (green) peanuts
4 cups water
1/4 cup salt
optional: 1 Tablespoon red pepper flakes, Old Bay or Tabasco sauce

Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer two to three hours, or until the peanut meat is soft and mushy. Drain and serve. Can be stored a few days in the fridge.

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