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Nuts have been used as food by animals and humans since prehistory.  What we often call nuts are not actually nuts at all botanically, because a true nut has an internal seed surrounded by a woody shell that does not open on its own (indehiscent).  Thus, things like walnuts and acorns are nuts, whilst pistachios and peanuts are not.  However, for our purposes we shall classify any large seed, usually with quite a lot of fat, as a nut.

Many of you know that I often gather wild nuts in the fall for holiday cooking, and I shall not repeat much of that, but rather refer you to a piece that I wrote about it some time ago here.  I do have a bit of an update at the end of the piece.

As an aside, tomorrow would have been my mum's 91st birthday.  She left this vale of tears way too early.  Quite a bit of what I speak about tonight had to do with her cooking savvy, and I am honored to write this with respect to her.  She was a wonderful person, but like all of us had her feet of clay, but that is not the purpose tonight.  I point this out merely to remember her, and hope that you think kindly of her tomorrow.  She was one of a kind.

Before we get too far into this piece, I should point out that nuts are amongst the most common causes of food allergies, and some of those are quite intense.  I went to graduate school with a fellow who, on his exploratory trip to the chemistry department, was taken to dinner at a local Mexican restaurant.  After eating, he developed full blown anaphylactic shock and almost died.  NEVER serve nuts or nut-containing dishes to anyone without full disclosure that there are nuts in it, and what kind.  It turned out in my friend's case the restaurant had added peanut butter to the taco sauce.

With that said, for the vast majority of people nuts are a healthful and nutritious (although highly calorific).  The high calorie content is due to fats in the nuts (except for chestnuts, which are mainly starch).  If these fats were saturated, nuts would not be nearly as healthy as they are, but the the bulk of the fats in most nuts is monounsaturated, and in many most of the rest is polyunsaturated, and these are good fats.  A notable exception is coconuts, the fat of which is mainly saturated.

Remember the Pique the Geek piece a couple of weeks ago when we discussed drying oils?  Well, most nuts contain the same kinds of fats that make drying oils reactive, so nuts are quite delicate insofar as storage and use goes.  As a matter of fact, it is best to store nuts in a cool, dry place in the shell (if these are real nuts with solid, woody shells).  There are a number of reasons for this.

First of all, opening the shell breaches an oxygen barrier.  Without oxygen, the oils do not go rancid.  Second, when nuts are opened the cuticle, another oxygen barrier, gets disrupted as well.  Third, for many nuts it is difficult to remove the nutmeats intact (there are exceptions), and the increase in surface area promotes oxidation.  Finally, the nutpick is your enemy, severely damaging the nut meats and tremendously increasing the surface area.  A nutpick should be used as gently as possible, and more to pry larger pieces of nut meats from the shell, not to break them up any more than possible.  Nuts with more monounsaturated fats than polyunsaturated ones are less apt to go rancid, but still will after time, as explained in the link.

With this said, let us take a brief survey of a few of the most commonly used nuts.  I shall include near the end some of the less commonly used ones that I happen to relish.  Unless qualified, this discussion is for US consumption.

Leading the pack are peanuts, not really nuts at all but rather seeds of a legume, so they are really more like beans than nuts.  They just are unusually fatty for a legume seed.  Peanuts are eaten raw, roasted, roasted and ground into butter, boilt, and are ingredients in many dishes worldwide.  Native to Central America, Arachis hypogaea sets its fruits in a very unusual way.  During the flowering stage, the blooms look a lot like those of beans, but after pollination the stems fall to the ground and actually burrow within it.  As a matter of fact, "hypogaea" means under the earth.  There the seedpods develop and when mature are dug up, now with mechanical devices.

During the Civil War, peanuts were quite precious because the Union troops were largely unfamiliar with them and did not know that they were deep underground.  When fields were torched or plundered, peanuts were spared.  Many a poor southern family was able to survive because of them.  They are quite nutritious, and here are some pertinent data about them.  All values are based on an one ounce (28 g) serving.  The figures sometimes add to more than 28 grams because of rounding.  All figures are taken from USDA sources.

Calories:  163
Carbohydrates:  6 g ( 0 g sugars)
Fat:   13.7 g (2 g saturated, 6.9 g monounsaturated, 4.6 g polyunsaturated)
Protein:  7 g
Fiber:  2.6 g

Thus, peanuts are an excellent source of high quality protein, good fats, and a significant amount of fiber.  They are also rich in antioxidants, especially when the cuticle is left on and this antioxidant level increases when roasted.  Therefore, do not worry about that PBJ sandwich every now and then.  An even more healthful sandwich, that I find especially delicious, is to use very ripe bananas instead of the jelly and to use 100% whole wheat bread.  With a bowl of hot soup and a glass of cold skim milk, this simple combination provides an extremely healthful and filling lunch.

Peanut oil, expressed from the raw nuts (you can get roasted peanut oil, but it is used for flavoring rather than as a cooking oil), is used extensively for cooking, and especially for frying since it has a high smoke point, the temperature when an oil begins to smoke excessively due to decomposition.  It is more expensive than soya oil, but if carefully handled can be filtered and reused a number of times before it has to be discarded.  A coffee filter supported by a metal kitchen sieve is excellent for filtering used oil.

I like peanuts fine, but they are not my favorite nut.  However, they are cheap for a nut and do have lots of uses.  My special friend and I made some peanut butter balls not long ago and they were good.  I also like peanut brittle, especially when it is made from the red cuticle, small Spanish variety.  My grandmum was the master of peanut brittle!  Since peanuts have little to no free sugar, they are less sweet than many other nuts, but sometimes not being sweet is a good thing.

When I buy peanuts, I always get the raw ones in the shell and shell out the ones that I want to use just beforehand.  Since they are so easy to shell, it does not take long to extract how ever many that you need just before cooking your dish.  I prefer the small, Spanish kind over the larger ones because I think that they have more flavor.  When I was little we had a family friend, Charlie Fox, who raised peanuts.  We never had to buy them, because Charlie supplied us with all that we needed.  Later, my father grew them in his garden.  It is amazing how many peanuts you can get from a relatively small planting.

Most peanuts in the US come from the southern and southwest region, but the United States is FAR from the largest producer.  In the 2008-2009 growing season the US produced 2.34 million tonnes of peanuts.  China, during that same time, produced 14.3 million tonnes!

Almonds are very popular in the US, and are used roasted, blanched (with the cuticle softened by immersion in hot water and then peeled away from the nut), as butter, and to make almond milk.  In addition, they have lots of culinary uses as a flavoring ingredient.

Almonds grow on trees, and an almond grove looks a whole lot like a fruit orchard.  The reason for the latter statement will be clear after the next paragraph.

The fruit of Prunus dulcis, almonds are very ancient, originating in western and southern Asia.  Those of you hip to botany will immediately be able to tell from the genus name that almonds are close relatives of apricots, cherries, peaches, and plums, all of which are also of the same genus.  As a matter of fact, if you take a peach and open the pit, the seed looks just like an almond.  But do not eat them for reasons to be seen straightaway.

There are two races of almonds, bitter almonds and sweet almonds.  Sweet almonds are the kind that we use as nuts, and are wholesome and healthful.  Bitter almonds are actually quite toxic (as are many seeds of the Prunus genus) because of high levels of a glycoside (a combination of an alkaloid and a sugar) called amygdalin that is hydrolyzed into benzaldehyde (the characteristic almond flavor), the sugar glucose, and hydrogen cyanide!  The pits of the Prunus fruits are like bitter almonds in that they contain sometimes dangerous levels of that glycoside, so do not eat them.  Natural almond extract is made from bitter almonds using a process that frees it from the hydrogen cyanide, leaving mostly benzaldehyde.  In a freak of nature, both hydrogen cyanide and benzaldehyde smell pretty much the same, and the smell of almonds is often associated with hydrogen cyanide poisoning.  Imitation almond extract is mostly alcohol, water, and synthetic benzaldehyde.

Sweet almonds are also an excellent food.  Here is a typical analysis, again for one ounce of raw almonds with the skins:

Calories:  164
Carbohydrates:  6.2 g (1.1 g sugars)
Fat:   14.1 g (1.1 g saturated, 8.8 g monounsaturated, 3.4 g polyunsaturated)
Protein:  7 g
Fiber:  3.5 g

Like other nuts, almonds have lots of antioxidants, and the thick cuticle is home to lots of them.  However, it darkens when cooked, so many recipes call for blanched almonds.  I keep the skins and toast them briefly and then add just a little salt and eat them as a snack when I blanch almonds.  Careful, they can burn very quickly!

I like almonds very much, and try to eat some every week.  They have a little more sugar than peanuts, and you can tell.  I like the dry roasted ones that are lightly salted.  For snacking, I just buy the shelled, dry roasted and salted kind.  For cooking I buy raw ones in the shell.  Like peanuts, they are easy to shell and there is no need to shell a bunch of them beforehand for cooking.

Most almonds in the US come from California, and the US is the world's leading producer of them.  In 2010 the US produced 1.41 million tonnes, over half of the world production.  Now you can see why almonds are more expensive than peanuts.

Walnuts, the English (actually, Persian is a better term) kind are for some reason highly esteemed by many.  I consider the nut from Juglans regia to be particularly unpalatable, but I am quite spoilt, having grown up in a region where black walnuts are common.  More about them later.  I just do not like them, and never have.  They probably originated in central Asia.

I am told that they are good for cooking and eating, but my taste buds and olfactory bulb tells me otherwise.  If you like them, good on you.  Here are the nutritional data:

Calories:  187
Carbohydrates:  3.9 g (0.75 g sugars)
Fat:   18.6 g (1.8 g saturated, 2.6 g monounsaturated, 13.5 g polyunsaturated)
Protein:  4.4 g
Fiber:  1.9 g

Look at the figure for polyunsaturated fat!  It is tremendously high.  Walnut fats are extremely susceptible to oxidation, and if you use them I strongly suggest that you buy them in the shell and shell them (they are not hard to shell) just before you ruin whatever dish to which you desire to add them.  You can use the alternative method that I shall explain later if you feel that you must shell them out beforehand.  Almonds or even peanuts are a better choice, at least for my palate.

China is the largest producer of walnuts, with 1.06 million tonnes produced in 2010.  The US is second, but I could not find figures.  Most US walnuts come from California.  The best use that I know of for that species is to use the wood from the tree for decorative veneer on fine furniture or for gunstocks.

An interesting nut is the cashew.  Native to what is now Brazil, Anacardium occidentale, the cashew grows on a tree, even though the nuts look a whole lot like peanuts.  They are not often used in cooking, but roasted and salted are extremely popular.

I would bet you dollars to doughnuts that you have never seen a cashew in the shell, unless you are a denizen of the growing regions.  This is because the shells of the seed (cashews are not true nuts) contain high concentrations of anacardic acid, very closely related chemically to urushiol, the potent allergen that (in many people) causes the severe, adverse reaction to poison ivy!  All cashews imported into the US (the US does not produce any) are shelled.

I like cashews.  I find them nicely sweet and delicious.  In the US they are usually used just as salted nuts, but with a starch content higher than most nuts they are also useful as a thickening agent for sauces, often done in Indian cookery.  Here are the data for shelled, raw ones:

Calories:  158
Carbohydrates:  8.5 g (1.7 g sugars)
Fat:   12.5 g (2.2 g saturated, 6.8 g monounsaturated, 2.2 g polyunsaturated)
Protein:  5.2 g
Fiber:  0.94 g

Since most of the unsaturated fat in cashews is monounsaturated, they keep OK for a while if kept out of light and air.

I rarely buy cashews, but I do like them.  Just dry roasted and salted is fine.  They have lots more sugar than any of the nuts that we have discussed so far, and anyone who has eaten them can tell that.  In 2010 Nigeria was the largest producer with 650,000 tonnes.  Cashews are not horribly expensive, but much more so than peanuts.

A nut that I like very much is the pistachio.  Pistacia vera, a native of western Asia, is in the same family as the cashew, and it shares some characteristics, one of which is the content of urushiol.  Cultivars grown in the US are low in this material and so these nuts are of little concern.  Besides, most of it is in the husk that falls away from the shell, so pistachios in the shell are not a problem unless one is hypersensitive.

Like the cashew, pistachios have quite a little starch.  The ones on the market used to be dyed a bizarre shade of red (sometimes green), but most that are available now are not dyed at all.  The transition from dyed to natural ones is a story in itself.

Not that long ago, pistachios were hand gathered.  The mere act of touching them caused them to become stained with dark spots, so producers dyed them to hide the dark spots.  All US pistachios are now harvested by machine, and for some reason machine harvested ones do not stain, so it is no longer necessary to dye them.

Here are the data for pistachios:

Calories:  161
Carbohydrates:  8.2 g (2.2 g sugars)
Fat:   12.8 g (1.6 g saturated, 6.8 g monounsaturated, 3.8 g polyunsaturated)
Protein:  5.2 g
Fiber:  2.8 g

Now we come to my favorite nuts, especially for holiday goodie cooking.  One of them is well known to most, and two are sort of obscure in that they are not often commercially available.

The pecan, Carya illinoinensis, is the one that is well known, a species of hickory and the only hickory commercially grown.  Pecans grow wild over much of the southern US, and I knew of a tree when I lived in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  Wild pecans have a wonderful flavor, but the nuts are small with thick shells.  There are commercial varieties that have larger nuts and thinner shells, and those are the ones that you see in the store.  The US produces around 200,000 tonnes annually, by far the greatest production in the world.  

Pecans are used in a multitude of ways, from raw out of hand or in Waldorf salads, "whole" halves cooked into pies, pieces used in cookies and breads, and lots of other ways.  They are relatively expensive, but because of the thin shells there is a lot of nut meat per nut.  Where I grew up we had a papershell pecan tree in the front yard that my father planted when they bought the place.  Thus, we had plenty of pecans and would give them away to friends and relatives after we got enough for our needs.  That variety is very easy to crack, just squeezing two of them together in the hand supplying enough force to crack them.  It is better to crack them with something channelock pliers because you can control the cracking and rarely break each half.  You can always chop or break them into smaller pieces later, but it is sort of hard to put the small pieces together to make halves!

Pecans, like other nuts, are laden with "good" fats.  Here are the numbers on pecans:

Calories:  197
Carbohydrates:  4.0 g (1.1 g sugars)
Fat:   20.6 g (1.8 g saturated, 11.7 g monounsaturated, 6.2 g polyunsaturated)
Protein:  6.2 g
Fiber:  2.7 g

Some recent research indicates that pecans, eaten daily, can do as much to lower "bad" cholesterol levels as some prescription medications, and without the adverse health risks associated with the statin drugs.  That seems to me to be a delicious way to have a healthy heart.  At the conclusion of this piece I shall provide a link to some recipes for holiday goodies.  It has already run in this space, but newer readers probably have not seen it.

Hickory trees other than pecans produce nuts, and some of them are outstandingly good.  The problem with hickory is that the shells are really thick (for the most part) and the nut meats are tedious to separate from the shell.  There are several species of hickory, but it really does not matter what kind you have nearby, for no hickory is poisonous.  Some are so bitter that you can not eat them, but intake of those is self limiting to part of a single nut meat.

In our front yard when I was growing up there was a hickory (probably Carya glabra, the pignut hickory) on the other side of the walk from the pecan tree.  It was a very dependable cropper and bore huge quantities of nuts.  Because of the difficulty in picking them out, my parents did not do a lot of cooking with them, but the former Mrs. Translator and I used a lot of them.  In those days I traveled a lot and would take ziplock bags of cracked nuts with me and pick them out at the motel whilst watching TeeVee.  When I would call home she would ask what I was doing and I would reply, "Just sitting here picking my nuts.".  Using what would otherwise be nonproductive time gave us plenty of hickory nuts for holiday baking.

Here in the Bluegrass I have located a shagbark hickory (Cayra ovata) in a yard near my house and the people who live there are always happy to let me pick up as many as I want.  Hickory nuts, unlike black walnuts, are easy to clean in the field, so you get a lot of nuts in a box since you can remove the husk with your fingers.  Shagbarks are nice because they have thin shells that I crack with a pair of channellok pliers, taking care not to smash the nut meats.  I than use a dental probe that I modified to pick out the nut meats.  If you crack them carefully, with a little practice you can often get quarters from them.

Here are the numbers for hickory nuts.  The USDA database was not specific as to the exact species.

Calories:  188
Carbohydrates:  5.2 g (sugars not specified)
Fat:   18.4 g (2.0 g saturated, 9.3 g monounsaturated, 6.3 g polyunsaturated)
Protein:  3.6 g
Fiber:  1.8 g

Finally, there is the king of all of the nuts, at least in my opinion.  The black walnut (Juglans nigra) is an outstanding nut except for one drawback:  they are hard to shell.  They are rarely seen in stores, but if you look hard enough you can sometimes find them.  I found them at Sam's Club one year, and the local Sav-A-Lot has them this year (for $8 for half a pound!).

We had a tree in the back yard that was a heavy cropper of average to largish nuts.  We would gather and husk them (but my parents had not developed the technique that I describe in the link given above), then let them cure out until dry enough to shell.  I shall go into a little detail about my current method, because it is bit more refined than the one in the link, although they are basically the same.  I just have discovered some improvements.

I get my walnuts at the entrance to a subdivision a few miles away.  There are six or eight trees there, so it does not take long to get quite a few.  I hedge my bets and get nuts from under several trees in case a particular tree has bad ones.

Instead of using just a hose to rinse them off after the husk is removed, I used a pressure washer this year.  This produces a much cleaner nut, and that means less debris, and this is a good thing.  I also have discovered the optimum method of husking and cracking them.  If you look at a black walnut in the husk, you will see that it is not quite spherical but slightly flattened.  You will also notice that there is a stem end (a slight depression where the nut was connected to the tree) and a blossom end (often with a little "stick" about 1/16 inch long and about as thick as a hair from my mustache).

I found that the husk comes off better if you but the stem end over the hole in the board and hit the blossom end with the hammer.  Many of the nuts that I got this year were on the small side, so a lot of them would fall through my wire baskets when I pressure washed them.  All things equal, it pays to get the biggest ones that you can find.  If I have to settle for small ones next year I shall fabricate a hardware cloth basket for washing and curing them.

The improvement that I developed in cracking them is to put the stem end on some sort of hard surface (I have a big shop vise that has an anvil that I use) and hit them sharply on the blossom end (the blossom end has a little, sharp point on it).  Wear a heavy leather glove on you holding hand.  The trick is to use just enough force to break the nuts into quarters (most of the time), not to mush them.  I would crack a 14 ounce Prince Albert tobacco tub of them (around four or five dozen nuts) and then bring them in for further processing.

Watch as you crack them because often large pieces of nut meat will fall onto your cracking surface, so pick them up rather than smash them with the next nut.  In the house I use the channeloks to finish cracking them without smashing the meats and the dental probe to extricate the meats from the shell.

This was a good year for nuts.  The hickory nuts were almost all good, with only a few with bad kernals.  (Look at the nuts when you pick them up for a small, round hole.  Those are bad because a grub has gotten into the nut, so just leave them on the ground.  Last year there was a frost at a bad time and there were no hickory nuts at all, but there were lots this year.  As for the black walnuts, last year only about one in ten or 12 were good, the rest having either dried out or rotted nut meats.  This year I often cracked a full tubful without any bad ones.  As for the pecans, I had to buy them at the store, but I got the ones in the shell for reasons mentioned earlier.

Here are pictures of the hickory nuts and black walnuts as taken from the field:

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These are the black walnuts.  I collected three boxes (I used liquor boxes available free at the liquor store).  The boxes are about 15"x10"x11", or just under a cubic foot each, so you can say that I essentially collected about three cubic feet of nuts in under 45 minutes.  When walnuts crop well, there are LOTS of nuts under the trees and you can get a bunch in a little while.  I wish that I had gotten more, but remember, they do not keep forever.  From the three cubic feet of nuts in the husk I ended up with almost exactly four pints of clean nutmeats.  At the store those would have cost about $16 per pint, so I got about $64 worth of them.

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These are the hickory nuts.  I got a little over half a box of them, so about half a cubic foot.  I scored six and one-half pints of those!  If you could buy them, and if they have the same cost of black walnuts, that would be about $104 worth.  Since you can husk them in the field, and because the shells are so thin, there is a lot of nut in a small space, unlike the walnuts.  On a volume level, I picked up about six times as many black walnuts as I did hickory nuts but got only about 60% as many cleaned nut meats.

I did not take a picture of the pecans that I bought, but there were Red Diamond ones in the shell.  Each pound bag cost $5, and I got four pints of clean halves.

Here is a picture of the grant haul of nuts.  On the left are the pecans that I bought, in the center the black walnuts, and on the right the hickory nuts.  I am very much anticipating cooking the goodies, and this year someone wants to help me!

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But this comes at a cost.  Not so much time, since I did most of the work whilst I watched TeeVee, something that is quite unproductive, but in the physical sense.  Here is a picture that my friend took of my hands just after I had processed all of the nuts.

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You can see the peculiar brownish stain on my left hand.  That is caused by the juglone in the black walnut husks.  Try as I may, I have never been able to handle large quantities of black walnuts without staining my hands.  Vinyl gloves are useless, and latex ones are not durable enough to last long.  This time I used polyethylene grocery bags, and they did not do much good either.  Of course, skin gets replaced relatively rapidly, so the stains are now gone from the skin.  However, my fingernails on that hand are now bicolored, the new growth at the base of the nails being normal looking, but the part exposed to the juglone still an interesting shade of orange.  Here is a picture of them.

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If you look closely at my left, middle finger you will see another small blister or abrasion.  That was from cracking black walnuts without the protection of a heavy leather glove.  I had forgotten to wear one the first tubful of walnuts that I cracked.  I shall not make that mistake again!

Now look at my right hand.  On my ring finger you can see a large blood blister.  That was caused by foolishness on my part.  My right hand was cramping from using the channeloks to finish cracking hickory nuts and I tried using my left hand to operate the pliers.  I caught my skin with the pliers' jaws because of the clumsy effort to use my less dominant hand to squeeze the handles.  The blood blister on the palm was caused by the handles of the pliers.  Every now and then I would catch that skin as a nut would give way faster than I could react and quit squeezing.

These little injuries are trivial, though, compared to the joy that I will give to loved ones who have come to expect holiday goodies.  I am the only one who remembers exactly how to make some of them, in particular the Lizzies (my mum's specialty) and the family like to be reminded of her at this time of year.  As a matter of fact, after I put this piece in the queue in a little while (it is about 8:00 PM Eastern on Friday night as I write this) I shall put the raisins for it in glass and add the bourbon to flavor them so that they will be ready tomorrow for my friend and me to make Lizzies.

So what am I going to make, other than Lizzies?  By the way, the recipe for them and a few other goodies is here.  Here are some of the things that I have planned.

Myers Rum Truffles

Black walnut/cream cheese pound cake (created by the former Mrs. Translator and perfected by me)

Black walnut/white chocolate Toll House Cookies (my own creation, and they are divine!)

Several hickory nut breads with different adjuncts, like banana, carrot, or zucchini

A pecan pie, but made with hickory nuts

Cushaw pie (like pumpkin, but using cushaws instead as the base)

No fudge this year.  It is good, but fudge is pretty common.  I want to make things for people that are not commonly available.

By the way, if you like to make fudge, black walnuts are vastly superior to pecans or the blasphemous Persian walnuts for it.  The black walnut version is ambrosia, the pecan one quite good, and the Persian walnut one not fit for a dog, since dogs are poisoned by chocolate.

I am going to try to save at least half a pint of black walnuts until the weather gets nice and hot.  In the part of the country whence I come a few small, local dairy plants make Black Walnut Ice Cream.  There is nothing else quite like it, and fortunately the fines left over from the larger pieces that I plan to use for holiday baking work well in it.  It is still commercially available in very limited areas, and by friend and Kossack justasabeverage tells me that it is still available in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  I have an ice cream freezer, and my friend is excited to make ice cream from scratch.  If it goes as well as the chicken and dumplings did Monday past, it will be another fun time cooking together.

Who knows what else!  My friend has a couple of suggestions, and she and I surely will experiment a bit.

Please let me and the rest of the readership know what kind of nuts that you like, and how you use them.  For the most part they are very healthful (you have to be careful with Brazil nuts because of their extremely high selenium content) if eaten in reasonable amounts.  Nuts are nature's perfectly packaged fast food, needing nothing more than a couple of rocks with which to crack them and eat them raw, but becoming ambrosia when incorporated with other ingredients and cooked properly.  I was sort of joking with the title of this piece, but actually there are fewer better wishes that I could give than to say nuts to you.

So, what am I going to do with all of these treats?  The ones that are not perishable get shipped to the family in Arkansas, except for one box that goes to Eldest Son and his wonderful wife in another state.  The former Mrs. Translator will see that the rest of the family there get their share.  It is cheaper to ship a big box than it is to ship lots of small ones, and I would rather concentrate on using funds for high quality ingredients than shipping.

Of course I shall consume some of them, but eating the goodies is not nearly as fulfilling as giving them to others.  Lots of them will end up with my new family, and they will be dispersed thence, and one box shall go to my dear neighbor next door and his family, the dear folks across the street and their family, and to my other dear neighbor a few doors to the north across the street.

Here is my philosophy about cooking, in a nutshell.  To cook for only one's self is futile.  I would rather eat a frozen dinner, frozen.  To cook for loved ones is much, much better, and I am getting back into doing that.  To cook with loved ones, for loved ones is where the joy is, and the food tastes better for everyone when a large proportion of love is incorporated into the final product.  Do I make sense, or am I just a hopeless romantic?

Warmest regards,

Doc, aka Dr. David W. Smith

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Comment Preferences

    •  Thanks, everyone (5+ / 0-)

      for this making the Recommended List!  I very much appreciate it.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 05:37:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Folks, I have got to go for a few (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mapamp, blueoregon, blueoasis, radarlady

      minutes.  I shall return before long; I need to talk with someone.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 06:08:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sorry, it is taking longer than I (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        radarlady

        had thought.  My friend's mum needs my support, and she has always been so nice to me that I can not abandon her.  I promise that I shall return.

        Warmest regards,

        Doc

        I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

        by Translator on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 08:00:15 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I am back. I did my duty, and supported (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          radarlady

          my family.  Things are not looking good for one member who seems to be quite suicidal.  I talked my ersatz mum in law down, and she feels better.  That was a good thing to do.

          Warmest regards,

          Doc

          I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

          by Translator on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 09:25:33 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Many thanks, doc. (15+ / 0-)

    Tonight, dad made crab cakes. They were really good.

    •  Thank you! I jut snacked around (7+ / 0-)

      today, not being all that hungry.  I have been doing a comprehensive house cleaning, and still have far to go.  It is amazing how nasty a house can get when only a single male lives there!

      I like crab very much, and all kinds of it.  The only bad experience that I have had with it was many years ago when I hand caught a bunch of ones in the Gulf of Mexico and did not know to separate out the bad bits before I ate them.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 04:47:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Love should be part of all cooking (12+ / 0-)

    and pretty much everything else, as well.

    I enjoy walnuts most, probably. I make granola regularly (I eat it every day, so I make it as soon as it runs out.) In it I use walnuts, pecans, and coconut flake. Other than that I don't use nuts a lot, as I don't bake a lot.

    Supper tonight: pumpkin mushroom alfredo sauce on pasta, and green salad on the side. I made pumpkin pie Thursday (which we had that day for supper AND later for dessert, and it was deeelishus!) but there was some pumpkin left over. And I had mushrooms needing to be used, and half a jar of alfredo sauce. (I know, I know, but that's what I use as the base sauce when I make macaroni and cheese.) And since we rarely throw out food, I'm used to creative cooking. I sauteed the sliced mushrooms, added the alfredo and pumpkin. Heated through and served it on rotini. mmm

    Last night I made beef and black bean burritos, which were mighty good, too. Comfort food. Not sure whether we'll just eat the leftover filling as burritos again, or use it as a chili starter.

    •  You dinner tonight sounds very (5+ / 0-)

      interesting.  Pumpkin is really quite versatile, being good in both savory and sweet dishes.  The same goes for winter squash like acorn and butternut.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 04:49:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It was very tasty. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Translator, carolanne, mapamp, pixxer

        I could have used a lot more mushrooms, and it seemed to be lacking one more flavor, perhaps. A seasoning I missed. (I didn't add salt, even though the alfredo sauce was low sodium, because I have problems with sodium. So it could be simply salting it a bit would have made the difference.) Anyone have an idea for the herb or seasoning that would complete it?

        thanks

        •  Try Morton Lite Salt Mixture. (5+ / 0-)

          It contains salt, but around half of the material is potassium chloride.  Go easy with it, though, because potassium chloride tends to taste bitter in high concentrations.  I use that product quite a little.  The other approach is to put the salt in before or just after cooking rather than at the table.

          Youngest Son is a culinary school graduate (cooking is in our genes) and tells me that salt use just about quadruples when it is not added during cooking, but rather from the shaker at the table.  I have modified the way that I grill flesh, now giving it a rub that contains some salt along with other seasonings and find that I am satisfied with much less salt.

          Warmest regards,

          Doc

          I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

          by Translator on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 05:06:56 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Love is not just cooking. (0+ / 0-)

      Love is everything that is important.

      Warmest regards

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 11:37:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks so much! (12+ / 0-)

    I love nuts, and this was great information.

    Dinner tonight was margherita pizza. I spent a good part of the day doing major kitchen cleaning to get ready for holiday cooking, so we ordered out.

    Tomorrow, I will be fixing Cornish game hens--a treat, as I found fresh hens at the store today. I'm thinking of an apricot glaze for the hens.

    Peace, Hope, Faith, Love

    by mapamp on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 04:51:25 PM PST

    •  I love apricots! (6+ / 0-)

      One of the goodies this year is apricot pound cake/bread.  I forgot to add that one to the list.  My cooking schedule is going to get going fast, and I have to make the least perishable items first and get things ready to ship.  I do not want things to be moldy when they arrive out of state.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 04:54:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wonderful diary, Doc, thank you. (10+ / 0-)

    I'm a huge fan of walnuts and pecans. I used to buy walnut tarts at a bakery in california, but have yet to try making my own. i still see black walnut ice cream here.
    For dinner tonight, I'm baking chicken and mashing a sweet potato.

    "Let us never forget that doing the impossible is the history of this nation....It's how we are as Americans...It's how this country was built"- Michelle Obama

    by blueoregon on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 04:52:00 PM PST

    •  I got quite a few sweet potatoes the (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoregon, carolanne, PBnJ, mapamp, pixxer

      other day because they were $0.25/pound.  There is a trick to cooking them so that they are always very sweet.  Here is the deal.

      Sweet potatoes store their energy as starch, but have an enzyme that converts it to sugar.  The trick is that this enzyme becomes active at about 130 degrees F and is denatured at about 170 degrees F.  If you have time, put them in the oven (I like to wrap them in foil after scrubbing) and set it to the lowest setting (the lowest setting on mine is 170) for an hour or two.  Since air is a very poor heat exchange medium, it takes a long time to get the whole thing up to 170.  If you need the oven, you can put them, unwrapped, in a kettle of water at 150 degrees F and keep the temperature around there by turning on the heat now and then.  Use a thermometer to make sure that the water does not hit 170 degrees, since water is an excellent heat exchange medium.  We are looking about 45 minutes using this method.  Then wrap them in foil.

      For either case, crank the oven to around 400 degrees F and cook them until they are soft.  Sweet potatoes are forgiving of overcooking; it just caramelizes some of the sugar and adds flavor.  Add butter and salt, and enjoy!

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 05:02:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Time for me to go away. (0+ / 0-)

      Forever.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 11:58:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  We need volunteer writers. (7+ / 0-)

    All dates open.

    "Let us never forget that doing the impossible is the history of this nation....It's how we are as Americans...It's how this country was built"- Michelle Obama

    by blueoregon on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 04:53:19 PM PST

  •  Thanks, Link Shared. Dinner: Cedar Planked Salmon (12+ / 0-)

    Along with mashed potatoes and great defrosted blanched/thawed garden brussels sprouts. The sprouts worked really well for us this year, very fresh and tasty after several freezes. We've got half a dozen meals' worth in the freezer, and 3 more plants to harvest in the garden.

    My first attempt to cook salmon this way, never thought to try it when we lived in the Pac North Wet for some reason. Got a wild sockeye salmon fillet, marinaded it for 2 hours in olive oil, vinegar, garlic, ginger & sesame oil. The 3/8" thick plank soaked all day.

    Unfortunate delay of Herself returning from errands meant that it got dark partway thru, so I couldn't judge the fish accurately and it got a little overcooked.

    Nonetheless it was delicious and I will so try it again!

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 05:00:04 PM PST

    •  I like salmon very much, even the canned (5+ / 0-)

      kind.  Here is a very nice summertime salmon dish.

      Take two slices of bread (I like 100% whole wheat) and apply some mayonnaise.  Then shred some lettuce onto them (this is an opened faced sandwich), and some diced, fresh tomatoes.  Then chunk up some cold (refrigerated) salmon on top of it and drizzle with lemon juice.  If you prefer tarter sauce, use it instead of the mayonnaise.  I always keep a can of salmon in the refrigerator for just such cravings.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 05:11:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  My Mom made so many salmon patties growing up (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Translator, webranding, mapamp, pixxer

        that I really have to force myself to eat even a good, fresh salmon filet these days.  I believe I read somewhere that salmon, back in the 30's, was referred to as the poor man's steak.  I ate a lot of it, and got burnt out on it.  I'll be honest...I prefer catfish.

        Oregon: Sure...it's cold. But it's a damp cold.

        by Keith930 on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 05:51:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Right you are! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mapamp

          Sockeye salmon was cheap as dirt (as was lobster) not that long ago.  My grandmum cooked what she called salmon croquets, probably like your patties.  She used canned salmon (with the bones removed and eaten by my with great relish), crushed crackers, minced onion, seasonings (already salty enough, but MSG and black pepper) and a couple of eggs to bind the mixture.

          Then she would take around a quarter cup of the mixture and roll it in more cracker crumbs, flattened them a little, and fried them in Crisco.  Dad always made creole sauce to go with them.  I still like them.

          Warmest regards,

          Doc

          I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

          by Translator on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 05:57:41 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Today Here Within Smell of Lake Erie, the Wild Pac (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mapamp, Eddie L, Translator

            sockeye salmon was $9 a pound while the fresh local walleye was $13. Prices fluctuate in this range for each fish at the big box and regional grocers where I shop.

            Oh that's not the Lake Erie on Fidalgo Island by the way.

            We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

            by Gooserock on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 06:27:45 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks. We Ate Salmon 3-4 Days a Week when (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Translator

        we lived out there, between home and eat-out. Fish tacos are common in the region and we often had salmon tacos with those fixings you mention, with a Latino twist on the seasoning. Due to gluten intolerance I don't do sandwiches, except to use the bread as an inedible wrapper while driving. Gluten free bread is fine for toast but it lacks the tensile strength (?) to hold together for conventional sandwich eating, in my experience. So I do to corn wraps.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 06:30:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Roast chicken tonight (no nuts involved)... (12+ / 0-)

    ...with the exception of my children. Chicken sprinkled with salt and pepper, stuffed with lemon, garlic and thyme, after 20 minutes added some peeled and halved shallots and peeled, cored and quartered pears to the pan. The hard part lies in simultaneously making sure the chicken is fully cooked and the shallots and pears have caramelized but not burned. Served with mashed potatoes, zucchini and the rest of a bottle of California Chardonnay we opened the other day.

    •  That sounds really good! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      carolanne, mapamp, pixxer

      You just pointed out the greatest challenge for most cooks:  getting things to come out at the right degree of doneness all at the same time.  My mum and grandmum were good at it, and the former Mrs. Translator was after some practice.  I am good at it, but I learnt from best (the first two women mentioned).  My Aunt Hazel, sister of my father, could NEVER get things to come out at the right times, but other than that she was a pretty darned good cook.  I think that her problem was that she did not cook a whole lot, except for simple meals.

      Pulling off a holiday feast with everything getting done at the proper time is difficult, but my mum always was able to do it.  That is in large part because my grandmum and aunt were helping as well, and later on me and the former Mrs. Translator.  Like I said in the text, cooking is best an effort shared.

      I bought my surrogate family a freestanding electric roaster for Christmas.  Those are really good for freeing up the oven for other things that are more particular.  I hope that they are not reading this!

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 05:19:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That Is Hard. I Have A Magic Chef Stove (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Translator, mapamp, pixxer, mikidee

        I just love, but it is from like 1978. I cooked Thanksgiving at my brother's place this year and he has one of those stoves like you see on the professional cooking shows. I hate to think what he paid for it, but my gosh it was nice. And it make getting everything just about the right temp much easier.

        When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

        by webranding on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 05:25:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The right tool makes a real difference! (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          webranding, mapamp

          I had a freestanding roaster, but since I live alone the former Mrs. Translator asked me to bring it back to her, since she cooks for more than I do.  Of course I did, but I sort of miss it.  They are really handy if you have only one oven.

          I have been exploring my cheap toaster oven lately and have found that it is very versatile and, with some scientific expertise, can cook things like biscuits for which it is not designed.

          Warmest regards,

          Doc

          I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

          by Translator on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 05:30:32 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  When we remodeled our house, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Translator

          we were supposed to spend a pile of money on all the windows. Instead, we got recycled windows (including 4-casement and 3-casement ones - nothing shoddy) and spent the big cash on a 48" Viking with two ovens (small and large), 6 burners, and a grill. I love the stove, but there are more efficient brands available now. I note especially that there are no small burners on the Viking, and flame goes around the outside of small pans (in case anyone is looking into buying one of these "professional" ranges.

          We all understand that freedom isn't free. What Romney and Ryan don't understand is that neither is opportunity. We have to invest in it.
          Julian Castro, DNC 4 Sept 2012

          by pixxer on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 10:08:17 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Remember, when you cook in cold (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pixxer

            weather, it costs nothing.  Doing that allows your heating unit to relax a bit, so go ahead and cook!

            Warmest regards,

            Doc

            I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

            by Translator on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 10:14:16 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  True enough. But it's not that cold that often. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Translator

              I'd rather Viking get it together to provide an aftermarket fix to their burners. Some friends recently bought a range that has a lot of energy efficient things that ours doesn't (not Viking). It wasn't available when we bought this, though, so not kicking ourselves about it. We do love the range, but I actually would recommend others above it now.

              We all understand that freedom isn't free. What Romney and Ryan don't understand is that neither is opportunity. We have to invest in it.
              Julian Castro, DNC 4 Sept 2012

              by pixxer on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 11:39:30 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  When my Dad retired, he did some cooking (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Translator, mikidee

        pretty much for the first time. He commented to me that he was amazed how hard it was to make everything come out at the same time. I enjoyed his realization of how hard my Mom had worked to get good dinners together all those years :)

        We all understand that freedom isn't free. What Romney and Ryan don't understand is that neither is opportunity. We have to invest in it.
        Julian Castro, DNC 4 Sept 2012

        by pixxer on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 10:04:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Great topic, and great story about why (8+ / 0-)

    pistachios were dyed! I do remember those :)

    Tonight it's beef stew, in honor of the incredibly rainy week we're having (NOAA says 100% chance of rain tonight and tomorrow, with "heavy rain" at times - sump pump working overtime). We have some red wines that Mr pixxer thought were not drinkable - usually b/c slightly corked, sometimes a bit oxidized - and I used one of those, a Montepulciano d'Abruzzo called "Cantina Zaccagnini" that we think of as our "Friday wine", for most of the liquid for the stew. The beef is still in its initial boiling phase, along with two large yellow onions (diced), and I'm actually not sure what else I'll add later. Could be minimalist "bourguinon" version (OK, "montepulcianon" maybe :) with mushrooms, or could add carrots and potatoes in more "all-American" style. Plenty of time to think about that, though!

    We all understand that freedom isn't free. What Romney and Ryan don't understand is that neither is opportunity. We have to invest in it.
    Julian Castro, DNC 4 Sept 2012

    by pixxer on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 05:11:50 PM PST

    •  You must be on the west coast. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      carolanne, mapamp, pixxer

      I saw the weather report.  Here in the Bluegrass it is still 58.3 degrees F here (very unseasonably warm) and dry, although it is supposed to rain Monday.  We are looking at highs in the high 60s to lower 70s at the start of the week, which is not record territory but quite warm.

      I have mentioned about my lack of success about cooking with wine (except as inspiration for the cook) before.  In the Deep South tradition in which I was raised, wine was just not used and I never developed a taste for it in cooking.  That is probably my loss.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 05:23:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Having wines good for nothing but cooking (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Translator

        (per my comment above) does encourage one to learn this :) Boeuf bourguinon is an excellent dish - beef cooked in red wine, basically - with some herbs, and then mushrooms added for the last half hour. Got that recipe from Mr pixxer's late aunt, who served it to us when we visited her. Ordinarily I don't use a lot of wine in cooking, but the reds and the beef tend to like each other.

        Yes, Berkeley. We're having a serious winter storm. A series of three or four, in fact. Temps in the low 60s, which is common for storms b/c the rainy winds come from the south (south wind typically portends rain, in fact). That's b/c of the rotation direction of the whorls of storm that come across the Pacific. The overall movement is west to east, but b/c of the local spin of the storm, the winds that reach us first are coming from the south, and are warmish. When it's very clear with a north wind, that is when we get (what we call) "cold" - highs in the lower fifties, even forties sometimes.

        I added potatoes and carrots to this stew now, and have some mushrooms ready to go in when I think they have a half hour more to cook. Another way you can tell I'm in the Pacific time zone :)

        We all understand that freedom isn't free. What Romney and Ryan don't understand is that neither is opportunity. We have to invest in it.
        Julian Castro, DNC 4 Sept 2012

        by pixxer on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 06:56:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I sautéed some tilapia... (8+ / 0-)

    ...and served it with couscous with onions and craisins in..

    •  I have never been able to do anything (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      carolanne, mapamp

      with tilapia that I liked.  Perhaps I just never got good fish, or maybe because of my growing up on catfish has made my taste buds biased.  On the other hand, I never liked trout before, but my neighbor gave me some fresh fish that I cooked myself and found to be delicious.  Even an old dog can change his spots.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 05:25:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  A Lazy Comfort Meal For Me (7+ / 0-)

    some ham I froze and left over from Thanksgiving. A veggie omelet and some hashbrowns w/ toast.

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 05:15:32 PM PST

    •  Have you been here long (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      webranding, mapamp, blueoasis

      enough to get my Coronado Sandwich recipe?  Send a reply if not (and if anyone else is interested, just ask).  They are actually better than the ham and turkey at the dinner, at least in my (and my entire family's) opinion.

      Since I live alone now, I buy turkey and ham this time of year and roast them just for Coronado material.  Mmmmm!

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 05:34:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'd Love It. I Live By Myself As Well (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Translator, mapamp, blueoasis, mikidee

        and I don't know why I don't buy half or full hams more often, but alas I never seem to. I mean I can eat the stuff like ten (or 20) different ways.

        When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

        by webranding on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 05:38:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Here is the recipe, and it is easy! (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          webranding, bluedust, mapamp

          Take two (for a single serving if you are pretty hungry) home baked dinner rolls and slice them longitudinally.  From scratch ones are best, but the Rhodes frozen doughballs are not bad.  Put them on a broiler pan, crusty side down, and add however much mayonnaise you like.  Sometimes I add some prepared horseradish.  For my taste, mustard detracts.

          On two of the halves, add thinly sliced ham (the former Mrs. Translator strongly prefers bacon) and to the other halves add thinly sliced turkey.  DO NOT try this with deli ham or turkey, they just do not come out tasting well.  You have to use ham and turkey that you roast yourself.  Grind some fresh black pepper on both of the meats, and salt the turkey side lightly.  You do not need a lot of salt, because the ham or bacon is already somewhat salty and the cheese to be added is as well, but the fresh pepper makes a huge difference.

          Then take 1/8 inch thick slices of cheese and cover the meat on both sets of rolls.  I have tried lots of kinds, and Monterrey Jack is good, but recently I have come to prefer the Cabot Seriously Sharp cheddar to it.  It is OK to use both, just experiment!

          Put the entire tray under the broiler and broil until the cheese begins to brown a little and gets really bubbly.  Make sure that meat and cheese overlaps the edges of the bread or it will char, and that is not good.

          Then flip the tops of the rolls to the bottoms and wolf down the food.  I like whole berry cranberry sauce with it, but not long ago when I was out I found that some home made crabapple jelly went well with it.

          This sounds much more complicated than it really is, but I wanted to go into detail.  I like to use a blend of breast and thigh meat for the turkey, but either alone is good.

          Warmest regards,

          Doc

          I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

          by Translator on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 05:52:06 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Nuts to you! (6+ / 0-)

    WFD: a big glass of water then maybe something from the freezer. Inspiration nipped in the bud.

  •  Cashews tonight (8+ / 0-)

    Chicken cashew stir fry with turmeric rice.

    Otherwise, I can't think of any I don't really like but my favorites are definitely pistachios, almonds, and walnuts.

    Chaos. It's not just a theory.

    by PBnJ on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 05:16:21 PM PST

    •  I Just Had A Handful Of Cashews (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Translator, PBnJ, mapamp, blueoasis, mikidee

      I have a nut problem, anytime I buy them to cook with something I tend to snack on them until they are gone and said dish never gets made. Bought a huge bag of Cashews the other day, cause I want to try to get into a fried rice kick, and that seemed like something good to add.

      But the dare things didn't stand a chance .....

      When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

      by webranding on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 05:19:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The trick to good fried rice (8+ / 0-)

        I learned from a dear friend long ago.

        Make the rice a day ahead. Refrigerate it. The low humidity removes moisture from the rice and you get a more authentic result without the rice popping from the moisture content.

        The nuts, I cannot help with. I have similar problems :-)

        Chaos. It's not just a theory.

        by PBnJ on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 05:44:53 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I Never Would Have Thought Of That (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          PBnJ, Translator, mapamp, mikidee

          but makes complete sense in hindsight.

          I just love rice, but never really cooked with it outside of just eating it or using with other things to stuff something (like Bell Peppers).

          As I find whenever I try to figure out how to cook something new, after a few minutes online I was kind of stunned how simple it was to cook any number of fried rice dishes.

          I still don't buy tofu will work, but alas I will give it a try :). I am always open to any way to eat less meat.

          When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

          by webranding on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 05:49:16 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Be careful with old rice! (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mapamp, Melanie in IA

          Your procedure is fine, but rice contains spores of a noxious bacterium that are not killed by boiling.  NEVER eat rice the next day that has not been refrigerated, and do not eat even refrigerated, cooked rice after the third day.

          Warmest regards,

          Doc

          I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

          by Translator on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 06:00:42 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I think that I am going to (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PBnJ, bluedust, mapamp, blueoasis

      buy a pecan tree and plant it in my front yard.  I get plenty of hickories and black walnuts free, but I hate paying the price for pecans.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 05:35:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I finally made use of my grape leaves (12+ / 0-)

    I have a grape arbor with two vines, about 5 years old.  All we've done with them in the past is snack on the grapes, but this past spring a picked a lot of new leaves and brined about 3 pints of them...just for the hell of it.

    Today I made a batch of dolmades, or stuffed grape leaves.  They are yummy, but do require some effort.  A wintry day that keeps you inside is perfect for this project.  If you've had stuffed grape leaves before, you know what they are about.  Tangy with lemon, with rice and parsley and some garlic and onion.  You can experiment with the filling...some like a little mint, or fennel bulb.

    But they are good.  Tonight we had stuffed grape leaves, some good Manchego cheese and olives, some salami and homemade bread.

    Here's the video I used as a guide (and if you grow grapes, I'll post another vid below showing how to brine the leaves)

    Oregon: Sure...it's cold. But it's a damp cold.

    by Keith930 on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 05:20:28 PM PST

  •  Thanks for so much nutty information! (9+ / 0-)

    Really interesting.

    My favorites are pecans. I like them in cookies and brownies, but most of all, I like them slowly roasted on a sheet pan in the oven, with butter and salt.

    When my son was a baby, I was thinking ahead to the day I could give him a pb&j sandwich. I knew about peanut allergy, though, so I offered him less than a quarter tsp of peanut butter and waited. Sure enough, not five minutes later, he'd broken out in hives. He's an adult now, and still has to be careful about all kinds of nuts.

    Dinner tonight was chicken cutlets in a Dijon mustard/lemon juice/wine sauce, with leftover rice and steamed broccoli & cauliflower. It was good.

    Thanks again for the diary.

  •  Pecan meal makes a fine coating (6+ / 0-)

    for fried/sauteed trout.  It's probably my favorite way to make trout.

    Oregon: Sure...it's cold. But it's a damp cold.

    by Keith930 on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 06:04:20 PM PST

    •  Youngest Son (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mapamp

      did that trick when he visited me not too long ago with catfish.  Wonderful!

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 06:06:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wow, Gluten Intolerant Here. That Gives Me Several (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Translator, Melanie in IA

      good ideas. Usually with breading fish, there's a flour undercoat and then the batter/crust outer coat. There are plenty of gluten free flours but I'm always up for another kind of crust.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 06:34:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hello Doc! (5+ / 0-)

    We had leftover Turkey-wing pizza today.  We make pizza dough in the bread machine, roll it out and top with shredded turkey in wing sauce (mostly hot sauce), a little bleu cheese dressing and mozzarella. Not our most nutritious pizza, but really tasty and it's a movie night ...

    We collected black walnuts for the first time this year and came up with a way to clean the shells.  First, we removed the outer fruit with a knife outside wearing gloves (no short cuts there), then we washed the nuts in batches in a five-gallon bucket. We attached the chimney sweep to a drill and used that to scrub the nuts in the bucket, stopping from time to time to rinse out and change the bucket water with the garden hose.  Because the chimney sweep has a long extension, you don't get splashed as the water swirls and the nuts scour each other.  It sounds odd, but it worked really well, and we had a good afternoon and a couple of beers to celebrate.  

    Cheers!

    •  That works! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bluedust

      I am always impressed by the creativity of the folks here!

      Now I must go away, because Ashely's mum asked me to make a sandwich for her (the mum).  Since she is her mum, and my friend, AND I am asked to cook for someone, how can I say no?

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 08:05:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  What a terrific article. (5+ / 0-)

    I don't think I've ever tasted a hickory nut.

    As for this:

    You can see the peculiar brownish stain on my left hand.  That is caused by the juglone in the black walnut husks.
    I believe this is the ingredient that is (or was) used in self-tanning lotions -- to give you a lasting sunless tan in a bottle.


    A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five. -- Groucho Marx

    by Pluto on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 06:28:31 PM PST

  •  Gr8 diary. I have used black walnut hulls to dye (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator, pixxer, mikidee

    fiber (I weave tapestries/blankets/rugs), and of course eat them.

    I also have a wonderful spiced nut recipe that I make @ holiday time b/c it makes a great small gift and they keep forever and i can bring them out for guests.

    Mixtures of sweet and spicy.
    nice
    thanks

    "Say little, do much" (Pirkei Avot 1:15)

    by hester on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 07:24:44 PM PST

  •  Thanks for the writing, always a gread read! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator, pixxer, mikidee

    Tonight, no dinner for us. We had a late lunch of cold cuts and pickle slices on bagels (unfortunately not home-made for this cycle). Then we had a nap, and both feeling on the un-hungry side. Won't do us harm to skip this meal, as we have been over-indulging during recent travels.

    Shortly though there will be some cut fruit to nibble on in front of the teevee.

    Psst! Meet me at the Electoral College campus. The baggers will never find it!

    by lotac on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 07:43:23 PM PST

  •  I love nuts! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator, mikidee

    Pretty much all of them, too. But my favorite is the Macadamia. Yes, it's expensive (and freaking hard to open!) but I love the buttery flavor. They are great in candies and you haven't lived until you've had a piece of mac nut pie. Ono!

    Pecans have been popular in my family, being from the South. My favorite pecan goody is pralines. Which I need to make for the holidays....

    Thank your stars you're not that way/Turn your back and walk away/Don't even pause and ask them why/Turn around and say 'goodbye'/Just wish them well.....

    by Purple Priestess on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 07:56:39 PM PST

    •  Those are really good, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Purple Priestess

      but only recently commercialized.

      Sorry, I have to run and make a sandwich for Ashley's mum.  She likes me because she knows that I have only pure thoughts for Ashley.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 08:08:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sausage with Peppers and Onions (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator, pixxer, mikidee

    I sauteed some nice red and yellow peppers and onions along with some link sausage. That plus some nice brown and wild rice made for a nice dinner.

    The only trouble with retirement is...I never get a day off!

    by Mr Robert on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 08:05:04 PM PST

    •  I am getting hungry! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr Robert, pixxer

      Perhaps a couple of biscuits and a bit of sausage and egg, but probably better some yogurt and to hope for a better day tomorrow.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 09:34:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  well I have about 20 pounds of walnuts (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator, pixxer, mikidee

    needing shelling.  You may not like them, but for me - a vegetarian - and the fact they came from my grand old tree...

    they're awesome.

  •  Sweet Potato Vegie Chili Here Tonight.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator, mikidee

    w/ black beans, kidney beans & fire roasted tomatoes.    Mr. Snapples topped his w/ vegan Tofutti sour cream, & mine w/ a splash of Tzatziki cucumber dressing.

    Nice combo of smokey & sweet.  

  •  Being useless is not (0+ / 0-)

    unusual for me.  I apologize to others.

    Warmest regards,

    Doc

    I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

    by Translator on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 11:54:25 PM PST

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