Appalachian Thursday – Cracking Nuts
The apples have fallen, the pumpkins are getting carved, and the leaves are turning orange and yellow and red. Must be time for the nut harvest! Of course, if we don’t hurry, the critters will beat us to it.
Growing up on the farm, we had walnuts, chestnuts, and filberts (hazelnuts). With walnuts, it was best to let nature dry the husk and expose the shell, which would still turn our hands black. Chestnuts could be removed from their prickly casing by pinching them between the soles of our boots and pushing them out. Hazelnuts we just let dry a bit and then whacked ’em but good with a hammer.
Mom probably made things using nuts, but mostly the pleasure was in just eating them straight from the shell. And eat them we did! Chestnuts in particular were an easy target and the crisp texture and flavor of that buttery, yellow nut was SO good. You can score them and roast them briefly to make them easy to peel, but we just bit ’em until the shell cracked.
Even here, on our little ole plot of land in NC, we have walnut trees (can’t plant tomatoes under them) and several hazelnut shrubs. But it’s a lot of work and not always worth it if the weather hasn’t been right or worms have gotten there first. So mostly Thistle and I sit inside the French doors and watch the squirrels feast. Their leavings streak the porch black when I go out to sweep them away.
But I kind of like that.
Reminds me of how God provides for squirrels and children growing up on a farm just the same. And how what he provides nourished my body back then and my heart and soul today.
HICKORY NUT PIE
A simple pie to make . . . once you crack and pick all those nuts!
3 farm-fresh eggs
2/3 cup of sugar
1 cup of white corn syrup
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 tablespoons of melted butter
1 cup of shelled hickory nuts
1 unbaked pie crust
Lightly beat the eggs then add sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, and butter. Fold in the nuts. Pour into the pie shell and bake in a 375º F oven for 45 minutes.