What does this post title, The Tribute, have in common with peanuts? I’m so glad you asked! George Washington Carver didn’t invent the peanut, but he did help revolutionize its impact. In honor of Black history month I present a little bit of history of George Washington Carver and a peanut recipe. Below his bio is a recipe for spiced peanuts (link to original source included).
George Washington Carver was a scientist, botanist, educator, and inventor. Born as a slave into Mose Carver’s farm somewhere around 1864 (his actual year of birth is unknown) in Diamond, Missouri (southwest corner of the state). He was raised by the Carver’s as their own and was encouraged to pursue his interest and curiosity in plants and science and further his education. In 1890 he began studying art and piano at Simpson College in Iowa. While there one of his instructors encouraged him to pursue his passion for botany and he enrolled at Iowa State Agricultural College where he was the first black student and later the first black faculty member. Carver received his masters at Iowa State Agricultural and went to work at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama as the head of the Agricultural Department under Booker T. Washington. Carver would spend the rest of his life at Tuskegee where he developed techniques to improve soils depleted by repeated plantings of cotton. Together with other agricultural experts, he urged farmers to restore nitrogen to the soil by practicing systematic crop rotation: alternating cotton crops with plantings of sweet potato or legumes (such as peanuts, soybean and cowpeas). This practice restored nitrogen to the soil, resulted in improved cotton yields, and generated alternative cash crops for the farmers. To train farmers to successfully rotate and cultivate the new crops, Carver developed an agricultural extension program for Alabama that was similar to the one at Iowa State. To encourage better nutrition in the South, he widely distributed bulletins (published work). His most popular bulletin, How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it for Human Consumption, was first published in 1916. It gave a short overview of peanut crop production and contained a list of recipes from other agricultural bulletins, cookbooks, magazines, and newspapers, such as the Peerless Cookbook, Good Housekeeping, and Berry’s Fruit Recipes. Carver died in 1943 and left a legacy with both the Carver Museum and the George Washington Carver Foundation.
The Spiced Peanuts
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons of cajun or creole seasoning
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, ground
2 cups (or 1 14-16 ounce container) of lightly salted dry roasted peanuts
heat in a skillet over medium heat
stir in seasoning and cayenne
add peanuts to skillet
cook for two minutes stirring constantly
serve warm or at room temperature
store for up to 3 weeks in a tightly covered container