Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Cookbook Wednesday; Menu Magic in a Nutshell

undated booklet:(

More than one person has informed me that they have gained weight while trying to lower their cholesterol. I think I know the reason why. Walnuts! Now, don’t get me wrong, pretty much everything I have read about walnuts leads me to believe they are not only heart healthy but also an excellent contributor to lowering cholesterol. They are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids and, high in antioxidant vitamin E. The thing is, they are heavy in calories too.

You might remember I was on a walnut kick a while back. That was before my “episode.” At that time, I was curious to see if they really were a good substitute for hair dye, lol…Well, it seems they are if you don’t mind the mess, which at this time, I still do. I’ll take mine shelled please but, if you have never seen a walnut in it’s “raw”, here’s what they look like thanks to my pal Harry:)

I wouldn’t even mind if they were all spiffed up and still had their shells on. After all, cajoling those rugged kernels out of their shells is half the fun.

Although, my very best favorite way to enjoy them is quite simple; piled in a plate with some raisins. That’s how I’ve been eating them lately and I’m just fine with that. But, just in case you would prefer some embellishments, have I got a leaflet for you. It too is undated:)

Have you guessed that we’re celebrating Walnuts today, lol??? That’s because October is National Nut Month! Actually, celebrating nuts in October isn’t nutty at all. It’s one of the few monthly celebrations that actually make sense. Many nuts are harvested in the Autumn. Here’s a brief run down from Mark’s Daily Apple. BTW, did you know you can freeze most nuts? I didn’t:)

  • Almonds: August-November
  • Chestnuts: October-December
  • Pecans: September-November
  • Pistachios: September-October
  • Walnuts: November-June
  • Hazelnuts: October

The next recipe booklet from the Diamond Walnut people is most likely the “newest.”

From their website:

…The man who did more than any other to promote early commercial walnut growing in California was Joseph Sexton, who settled in the Santa Barbara area in 1867 and began planting walnuts. Through selective breeding and experimentation, he focused on promising ‘soft-shelled’ varieties. Word of his developments spread, and soon other growers were planting Sexton’s superior seedlings. At about the same time, Nevada City nurseryman Felix Gillet began introducing walnut varieties from France…

Choosing a recipe wasn’t difficult:)

Doesn’t Chicken with Walnut Dumplings sound yummy?

I just wouldn’t feel like we celebrated the walnut properly unless I included the “Black Walnut.” Yes indeed, there is a difference between Black Walnuts and English Walnuts or what most people think of as California walnuts. I know, this gets a bit nutty and complicated too. So complicated as a matter of fact I’m not even sure what kind of nuts Harry gave me! They are since long gone so I’ll have to wait to find out:)

…While there are numerous species of walnut trees, three of the main types of walnuts consumed are the English (or Persian) walnut, Juglans regia; the black walnut, Juglans nigra; and the white (or butternut) walnut, Juglans cinerea. The English walnut is the most popular type in the United States and features a thinner shell that is easily broken with a nutcracker. The black walnut has thicker shells that are harder to crack and a much more pungent distinctive flavor. The white walnut features a sweeter and oilier taste than the other two types, although it is not as widely available and therefore may be more difficult to find in the marketplace. Within these basic types of walnuts, there are dozens of different varieties (also called cultivars). It's not uncommon to see research studies that evaluate several dozen different cultivars of English or black walnuts. All types and varieties of walnuts can have unique nutrient composition. Sometimes within a particular type of walnut—for example, English walnut—there is a surprising amount of nutritional variety. The bottom line here is to not to get caught up in thinking that one main type of walnut (for example, English versus black) is best, but to take advantage of the nutritional variety offered by walnuts overall…The George Mateljan Foundation.

According to the folks at Missouri Life, the Eastern Black Walnut was named the Missouri State Tree Nut in 1989 and, Missouri supplies 70 Percent of the world's Black Walnuts. Wow! Did you know that? I didn’t.

Pickup trucks across the state laden with black walnuts head to one of about 125 collection points in Missouri beginning October 1, and thirteen dollars per hundred-weight is exchanged for the unique nut found only in our region of the world. The natural range of black walnut trees is broader than Missouri. It stretches east through western Pennsylvania and Virginia, south to eastern Texas, and north to southern Nebraska. Black walnut is even scattered in New York and southern Canada, according to the Walnut Council. But it is here in Missouri where most of the nuts are collected and processed.

At the forefront of the Missouri Black Walnut industry is a company by the name of The Hammons Products Company. They have been processing black walnuts since 1946 and sell most of the country’s black walnuts under the Missouri Dandy Pantry label. I just happen to have one of their recipe flyers to share with you today.

So there we have it. Oh, wait, one more thing, there’s a Black Walnut Beer that may be of interest to you beer nut fans. I know I’m curious:) It’s called Black Walnut Wheat by the Piney River Brewing Company based in Bucyrus, Missouri. It sounds like the Opulent Opossum is mighty proud! P.S. I just popped over to Mae's food blog for a visit when what to my delight should I discover but Mae sharing some Eastern European Cookbooks from her collection. I hadn't really thought about others wanting to participate in Cookbook Wednesday but my oh my, if you would like to, by all means do! No rules, just cookbooks. I'm even going to try to come up with some kind of logo; just in case:) In the mean time, do hop on over to Mae's and take a peek at some of her Eastern European Cookbooks:)

1. Walnut History & Cultivation
2. Seasons for Nuts and Seeds
3. How To Freeze Nuts
4. Soak & Dehydrate Nuts for Optimum Digestibility
5. How to Freeze Nuts to Maintain Freshness
6. Black Walnut Hull Herb Profile
7. Where to Find Black Walnuts

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Weekend Visitor, “Great” Pumpkin Cookies and a Prize

Meet Iggy. His “daddy,” my son, had to go away for the weekend so Marion and I got to Iggy-sit. Iggy has never spent a weekend here so we didn’t really know how well he would take it. He’s kinda spoiled:) But, he did just fine.

I had quite the time trying to get pictures of him though. He was playing with Marion almost all day Saturday. I tried sneaking back to Marion’s to snap a picture and each and every time, I caught what looked liked a big fluffy hair ball! I know my son doesn’t have this problem. He sends me pictures of Iggy all the time. I’m not very good with the camera I’m afraid. This is the best I could do:)

If memory serves me correctly, Iggy was named after the apparent “godfather of punk” Iggy Pop! Don’t quote me on that and pleeeeeeze don’t tell my son that Marion insists on calling Iggy, Ziggy!!!

As many of you know, 99% of the time I go out for breakfast each and every morning to my very best favorite “diner” at Harry’s place. That’s not the name of it though:) It’s one of those places where “everyone knows your name” and in my case, what you eat. For many years, I never had to tell Sue or any of the other waitresses what I was eating because I had “my usual.”

I still go to Harry’s every morning AND, I have a new usual. There’s just one thing, for the life of me, the cooks just can’t seem to get my new usual right! At first I thought they were just trying to be funny. Then when one of the regular cooks left for a new job in the gas industry, have you heard we’re “booming” here in central PA, I thought the new cook would have no problem at all, after all, he didn’t know what my usual was to begin with! It did take Sue and the other waitresses a few orders to get it right but, until this past Friday, the cooks could not get it right no matter what!

How did I finally get Steve, the new full time cook, to get my order right? Good old fashioned cookie bribery, that’s how!!! As soon as I walked in the diner on Friday morning I made an announcement. ”Who ever get’s my breakfast right this morning will get a treat, Great Pumpkin Cookies!”

I followed the recipe as found in the Peanuts Cookbook. Once again I missed Peppermint Patty’s birthday which is October 4th but, if you would like to celebrate with one of her recipes, I posted one a while back right here.

As for these cookies, I left the testing to Marion. She gave them a thumbs up without the Orange Cream drizzle. I may leave them plain when I bring them down to the diner tomorrow morning, I may not:) The one thing I must say about the instructions for the Great Pumpkin Cookies is, I think it would probably be better to cream the brown sugar and shortening together before adding the pumpkin and eggs. It took so long for the shortening to cream when I mixed all the “wet” ingredients together. I don’t think it’s because this recipe is from 1969 that the directions are not clear. It’s probably because the Peanuts gang, and especially Linus would know better, lol…I also didn’t have plain canned pumpkin so I used the pre-spiced kind and left the spices out.

I think the “gang” at the diner will enjoy these. I sure hope so!

FYI: On October 2, 1950 the PEANUTS comic strip launched in seven American newspapers. Who would have guessed the impact the brand would have around the world for decades to come. Nearly 60 years later, the comic strip appears in over 2,200 newspapers, in 75 countries and 21 languages. PEANUTS animated specials have become a seasonal tradition…All About It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Look what Marion won!!!

Thank you so much to Kristy from My Little Space for letting me enter Marion in her generous give-away. I’m not one to usually enter give-aways but somehow I entered Kristy’s and when I was lucky enough to win, I asked Kristy if she would send the prizes to Marion. She did and Marion is absolutely thrilled!!! We haven’t decided what our first “goodies” will be but, I’m sure we’ll find something yummy in the enclosed recipe suggestions. Thank you Kristy! Marion send hugs and a huge Thank you too!!!

Just one more thing for today. The other evening I was washing dishes when I spied the most beautiful hues of golden reds and oranges settling over the mountains. Quickly, I shut the water, grabbed my camera and ran outside. Now, I get the morning sun in the back of the house where the garden is so I wasn’t to hopeful that the rays would still be shining by the time I made it out there.

This is almost the same spot I shared with you the other day. I just love it. I hope you do too:) Thanks for visiting everyone. “See” you Cookbook Wednesday for National Nut Day!!! Louise

I was so inspired by The Weekend Social Party over at Katerina's Culinary Flavors that I linked up this post to join in on the fun!