My older sisters all went to a mysterious place called school while I spent quiet days at home with my mom and our dogs, and my imaginary friends Macaroni and Alligator. When my sister Susan brought home her Scholastic book orders I was overcome with jealousy. Not only did she get to go learn cool stuff all day, she got to bring home books! The “Peanuts Cook Book” appeared on her shelf and I couldn’t control my lust for warm puppies and recipes like Snoopy’s Steak Tartar. Susan, a Lucy van Pelt aficionado, was more interested in the recipes attributed to Lucy. It took years, but eventually I found a way to permanently borrow her book. Without her permission.
The beauty of childhood rivalries is that we eventually outgrow them. They certainly shape our personalities. When I admitted to Susan that I still have her cook book, she simply asked for the Lucy’s Lemon Square recipe.
I’ve written a lot about my sister’s “Peanuts Cook Book” and my later acquisition of “Peanuts Lunch Bag Cook Book.” When I look back on the path that brought me to writing, blogging, and obsessing about food and culture, I see clearly that our duet of Scholastic Peanuts cook books were the golden bricks that started me on this journey.
It took forty years but I finally returned the book I borrowed from my sister. I bought a used copy with some stranger’s name carefully printed in kid-scrawl on the first page and then let my sister decide if she wanted the strange kid’s book, or her original “Peanuts Cook Book.” The original comes with her recipe rating system on the cover page, and loose pages that no longer attached to the spine. She chose the stranger’s copy, and left me with the battered and beloved one.
Lucy’s Lemon Squares
1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Sift flour and sugar into bowl. blend in butter with clean fingertips until well mixed. Pat evenly into the bottom of an 8 x 8 inch baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Meanwhile, beat together:
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
dash of salt
Pour over baked crust and return to oven for 20-25 minutes at same temperature.
Cool on rack. Cut in squares. Sprinkle with sifted, powdered sugar.
From “Peanuts Cook Book” published 1969.
(Photo credit: my sister Susan)