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Monday, November 17, 2014
Fall is for nuts!
Fall is for nuts! Really. Fall is nut harvesting time. What did you think I meant?
Many happy memories surround this time of year and those tasty treats. My Dad lived in the Willamette Valley in Oregon and occasionally when visiting him, we would go get nuts. We especially liked the walnuts and filberts (hazelnuts).
Nuts are harvested differently from tender fruits that bruise if they hit the ground. Not so nuts. The trees are shaken furiously by a machine that goes down each row. The nuts fall onto nets on the ground and are gathered up. Or another machine comes along and sweeps them up. We would go in after the harvest and pick up the strays for a lot cheaper price. Nothing wrong with them; they had just been left behind. When we got home we would lay them out in single layers on the back deck to dry, which could sometimes be quite a task as fall could be quite damp at times.
Dad loved inventions and had an impressive array of nutcrackers, some better suited for cracking then others. We would spend hours talking and cracking nuts, sifting through the shells for the nutmeats. Everyone always got bags of nut for Christmas, some still in the shell so Dad could include that years best nutcracker design!
Back home, I would sell some at Farmers Market while more went into breads, fruitcakes, and cookies. Still more were sugared and spiced. I will share a quick and easy way to make a delicious snack. And maybe you too can start some memories of your own.
Take a large saucepan and to it add 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup of white sugar and about 1 T. of ground cinnamon. Stir well and bring to a gentle boil (kinda oxymoron don't you think)? To this add 2 cups of nuts. I use anything from almonds, filberts, pecans, walnuts. Whatever you have. Stir every once in a while and continue cooking until most of the water has evaporated. Then pour out onto a wax paper lined cookie sheet and spread in a single layer. As they cool and harden, break individual nuts apart from each other. I find using two forks for this works quite well. When they are completely dry, I put them into pretty gifts bags tied up with ribbon and a handmade gift tag. They go really well into gift baskets for friends, the mail lady or people at work. And the grandkids Christmas stockings, of course!
If there are no nut trees where you live you can find them bulk at a grocery or fresh market.
Sadly, as Dad has passed, I no longer make that trip to Oregon to be with him and to have adventures in the nut orchards. Just the memories to sustain me. And the nuts, of course!