Charlie Brown as a celebrity chef? Happiness is “The Peanuts Cook Book” which Scholastic Book Services (the eventual beneficiary of Harry Potter’s U.S. fortune) published in 1970. With a price tag of sixty cents, this was a favorite cook book of my formative years. The lime-green-covered paperback with hot pink pages contained 21 recipes interspersed with Peanuts cartoon strips exploring all aspects of the pint-sized culinary world.
Well before the era of Power Rangers or Teen Age Ninja Turtles, my cartoon companions were Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and friends. If Charlie Brown liked to cook, I was into it, too. “A Charlie Brown Christmas” was the hot holiday television special, and I collected a stack of paperbacks reprinting the daily cartoon strip by Charles M. Schulz. My mom even fashioned felt hand puppets for me that bore an uncanny resemblance to Charlie Brown and Lucy.
Beyond Snoopy’s craving for cookies and his penchant for quaffing down root beers as the World War I Flying Ace, or Schroeder’s insistence that one of Beethoven’s favorite dishes was Macaroni and Cheese, sustenance plays a very integral role in the security-driven philosophy of Charlie Brown, the little round-headed kid with the striped shirt. Here are just a few food-focused proverbs from the pen of Charles M. Schulz:
Security is a candy bar hidden in the freezer.
Happiness is a bread and butter sandwich folded over.
Security is knowing there’s some more pie left.
The often world-weary Peanuts gang had somewhat of a lighter touch in the kitchen. I remember preparing “Happiness is a Hot Cheese-Tomato Sandwich,” “Great Pumpkin Cookies,” “Frieda’s French Toast” and “Red Baron Root Beer” which featured frozen root beer cubes with maraschino cherries. There’s even a recipe for “Snoopy’s Steak Tartar,” with a disclaimer that it is “for DOGS only, and maybe cats.”
Perhaps the definitive Peanuts-themed recipe in the slender volume is something we all crave at one time or another. It includes kid-friendly directions, appropriate warnings about kitchen safety, and even a second quick-cook version courtesy of Linus:
SECURITY CINNAMON TOAST
(from “Peanuts Cook Book, Scholastic Book Services, 1970)
8 slices white bread
½ stick butter
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 scant tablespoon cinnamon
Melt butter with sugar and cinnamon. Cook gently while toasting bread on ONE side only in broiler. Spread untoasted side of bread with sugar mixture and place under medium-hot broiler until sugar is crusty and bubbly. The sugar’s hot! Be careful!
Another way Linus does it is make toast in the toaster. Then he spreads it with butter immediately, and shakes a spoonful of cinnamon sugar (2 tablespoons sugar mixed with a teaspoon of cinnamon) over the buttered toast.
Happiness is still being able to page through a favorite childhood cookbook, even after 38 years!
©2008 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved