Happy New Year! My family and I began 2013 in a new house. We moved from the city (Chicago) to the country (30 miles north of St. Louis) about two weeks ago; yes right before Christmas, with a small baby and 3 young children. There is a lot to say about the whole process – but I’ll begin today with one small chronicle.
I’ve been feeling a strong sense of déjà vue from my childhood. As you may know, I grew up in on a Montana cattle ranch – very country. We had no microwave or dishwasher and my mom sewed all our clothes. Currently, we have no microwave or dishwasher and, finding ourselves snowed in the other day and with no other craft supplies unpacked beyond some fabric scraps, the girls and I sat down to sew Christmas ornaments. (No worries, this will not turn into a sewing blog, as I can only sew on buttons.)
Anyway, in the process of the move, we had to empty our chest freezer and give away our venison, veggies from the garden, and blueberries picked this summer. However, one thing I did schlep here to the country was a five pound bag of black walnuts.
Black walnuts are like gold! You may have noticed they are only available nationwide in supermarkets around the holiday baking time – and sell for about $5.00 per 10 ounces. I did a magazine story on these magnificent nuts last year and have fallen in love with the wild and bold taste of this truly remarkable nut.
As one of the few truly foraged food sold in supermarkets, black walnuts are harvested by regular folks who live in 19 Midwestern and mid-Atlantic states. Most all of these black walnuts are then processed by Hammons Nuts – who kindly sent me the bag of ‘golden’ nuts to use for recipes. To process the tough nut, the smooth, dark green, golf ball-sized outer shell must be cracked to reveal another brown rough shell; inside this shell is a very small amount of nut meat. This arduous process results in the steep price for a small bag of nuts. But they are worth it! (One note, these are not black walnuts in the photos, since you can’t purchase whole black walnuts – only forage them!)
For the magazine story, I tested cookie and muffin recipes where just a few nut pieces permeated each treat with bold walnut flavor. But one of the very best recipes I’ve ever made with the tasty nuts is this savory sweet chutney. It was devised from ingredients in my new country pantry (since we’re nine miles from the nearest supermarket.)
So feel free to swap out whatever you have on hand, but do try to go the extra mile to find black walnuts. (Or next fall, try foraging them yourself if you live in a black walnut state.) You can also order them here. Serve with a cheese plate, pork, chicken or on any sandwich.
Have you ever eaten/cooked with black walnuts?