Aunt Bess was a woman of intrepid notions who did not let the world at large get in her way of doing what she knew was right. She found nothing wrong with locking Uncle Ewell in the corn crib to keep him from drinking and picking up loose woman in his baby-blue 1954 Buick Skylark, and just because her brother-in-law was the sheriff did not stop her from chasing him out of her house with a shotgun when he put ketchup on her fried chicken.
Bess lived in a big, ramshackle house with a wringer-washer on the back porch, and two swings out front. She kept a huge garden, almost an acre of corn and beans, okra and tomatoes, potatoes, cabbages, and two long rows of peanuts. When it came time to pull them, her four nephews—niece Cindy was exempt because she was such a pampered little princess—would trudge up there on a weekend afternoon, and after Bess had used a garden fork to loosen them, we’d haul the plants out of the ground with their dangling nuts and lay them on burlap bags to dry. Later Bess would cut away the peanuts and sack them up to hang on the back porch.
This is how Bess parched peanuts. For a pound of very well-washed raw peanuts in the shell, dissolve a cup of salt in two quarts of water, bring to a rolling boil, and remove from heat. Add peanuts. Sink in the brine with a plate of a pie pan and let them soak for a few hours. Drain, and spread on sheet pan. Roast at 350, stirring a time or two; enjoy the beautiful. Serve warm when shells are brittle.