This Labor Day weekend, we encourage you to embrace the last bits of summer while enjoying a piece of Mary Nell Baltz's Peanut Butter Pie. This no-bake, make-ahead dessert was served to us by Mary Nell at their home in Arkansas during our peanut harvest last year. We asked Mary Nell to tell us about her family, her life on the farm, and of course - her peanut butter pie! Keep reading for some words from Mary Nell herself.
Little did I know as I read Betty MacDonald’s humorous memoir of being a farmer’s wife in The Egg and I that in just a few years I would follow in her footsteps. Having grown up in a city environment I often still feel like a new rural transplant- even after 41 years! After college, I followed my husband Greg back to his home town and farming roots armed with a background in liberal and fine arts.
In my role as farm wife I’ve promoted agriculture through local, state, and nationwide events: rice “tastings,” book presentations to school libraries, and various Farm Bureau and “women-in-ag” committees. I find learning about and promoting peanuts (a relatively new crop for us) and peanut products to be one of the most fascinating- and delicious- agricultural areas to explore.
Following my love for the arts, I taught ballet for twenty years. One of my greatest joys was having my daughter help me in the studio. I also danced in and choreographed for local and regional productions and taught dance for theater majors at Arkansas State University. Most recently I am adjunct faculty at Black River Technical College teaching Psych and Cultural Anthropology classes.
Raising a “farm” family of two sons and a daughter has been a wonderful experience. I am most proud that Lewis and Clinton had the experience of summer farm work alongside their father. Working for him they developed a good work ethic, learned how to think through any problem, learned how to fix anything, and discovered that the workday doesn’t always end at ”dark thirty!” Angie developed her unique farm skills at the computer. With the farm’s adoption of precision farming techniques, data management became essential. She quickly mastered Excel spreadsheets, yield and applications mapping tools, and farm management software. These skills they took with them into their outside careers.
I believe my favorite aspect of being a farm family is having the advantage of a wide scope of experiences. Seeing a crop mature from planting to harvest, enjoying Mother Nature at her best- and worst, working hard but having time to play hard, too, and living among some of the best people in the world adds to the joys of life. I also think our children appreciate the foundations they were given as part of a farming family. They seem eager to let their children experience what they had. And that warms a grandmother’s heart!
My peanut butter pie recipe reflects many areas of my life and experiences. It is an up-to-date recipe by Lisa G. (ThanksgivingRecipe.com) and is versatile enough to adapt to whatever is going on in our household at the time! I love it because it can be made ahead of time and freezes beautifully! And, because it is a cold dessert, it is terrific to serve in the summer in the South. I also change the cookie/cracker crust to suit my mood- graham crackers when I’m feeling nostalgic for those Saturday mornings watching cartoons as a child- or Oreo cookies when I’m in the mood for chocolate! You can top this no-bake pie with whatever you’d like. My favorite toppings are drizzles of chocolate syrup, crushed peanuts, spoonsful of reserved crust mixture, or mini chocolate chips. You can never go wrong with the chocolate chips!
Peanut Butter Pie
1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust*
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
½ cup Peanut Butter & Co. Smooth Operator
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 (16 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
15 miniature chocolate-covered peanut butter cups, unwrapped**
Mix the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and peanut butter together until smooth. Fold in ½ of the thawed whipped topping. Spoon the mixture into the graham cracker crust.
Spread the remaining whipped topping over the top of the peanut butter mixture and garnish with the peanut butter cups.
Chill for at least 2 hours or overnight before serving. ***
*Homemade Graham Cracker Crust: www.allrecipes.com, Easy Oreo Cookie Crust: www.lifeloveandsugar.com
**Here you can let your imagination go wild!
***I have the best luck freezing the pie. Remember to take it out of the freezer early enough before serving to let it soften.