We’re Crazy for spiced Nuts

 

I love nuts! I’m nuts about them. I’ve never met a nut I didn’t like. So I wanted to share a couple recipes with you for two varieties of spiced nuts.

pecans on the tree

 

cashews on the tree

The first recipe for cashews is delicious, with no added-fat, while the second recipe is not for the faint-of-heart since it uses a healthy dose of black pepper for flavoring.

 

cashew nuts

Sugar & Spice Cashews

2 egg whites

1/3 cup natural sugar or ½ cup coconut sugar

1 teaspoon each, sea salt, cayenne, cumin and chili powder

¼ teaspoon each, allspice and ginger root powder

6 cups cashews, whole or large pieces

Pre-heat oven to 300-degrees. Line 3 ungreased baking pans with parchment.

In a large bowl, whip the egg whites until foamy but not stiff. In another bowl, mix all the spice ingredients together, then stir into the egg whites. Stir in the nuts. Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared pans.

Bake the cashews for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, then toss and separate the nuts using a metal spatula. Return nuts to oven, reduce heat to 250-degrees, and bake another 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove cashews from oven, stir again, then place pans on wire rack to cool. Store in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

 

pecans, loose and in the shell

Peppered Pecans

1/2 cup natural sugar

2 tablespoons sea salt

2-3 tablespoons ground black pepper

4 cups (about 16 ounces) pecan halves

Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl. Heat a large heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, over high heat, add the pecans and toss for a minute or so, to bring the nut oils out. Remove from heat.

Sprinkle half the spiced sugar over the pecans until the sugar begins to melt, about 1 minute. Add remaining spice and repeat.

After 1 minute or so, pour pecans onto a baking sheet, spreading to cool. Seal air tight to store.

 

peppercorns

 

black pepper on the vine
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Delicious Flavored Butters

Go ahead, butter me up!!!

 

The photos below picture two of the flavored butters we sampled at the Sandpoint Library in September 2010, at the Herbal Pantry Staples and Fall Comfort Foods demonstration, above. There were over 2 dozen folks who attended, and it was a lot of fun. Here are two recipes, neither of which are in my book The Wild & Weedy Apothecary.

Raspberry Butter
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened at room temperature
1/2 cup raspberry puree (from unsweetened fresh or frozen berries sieved for seeds)
1-2 tablespoons honey

 

Garlicky Dill Butter
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill leaf
1-1/2 tablespoons chopped garlic, about 3 or 4 cloves
2 teaspoons lemon juice, optional

 

The method of preparation for the Garlicky Dill Butter is the same as for most other flavored butters, that is, let the butter soften at room temperature, add the other ingredients, whip it good (into shape!), and either place in a pretty crock or roll into a log on some waxed paper and then chill to make rounds or pats (the process is messy but good). Just about everyone at the class loved the garlic-dill butter, but I wouldn’t use the lemon juice option unless you’ll be using it on fresh steamed veggies; if it’s just for bread or rolls, I think it tastes better without the lemony flavor, but that’s just me.
For making the Raspberry Butter, I used a food processor, because there was no way the puree was going to blend willingly with the butter. It made a real mess whether I used a spoon or a wire whisk. However, the effort and experimentation was well worth it, because the result tasted sort of like raspberry whipped cream. In other words, Excellent

 

Please share your own favorite flavored butter combinations with me, I’d love to try them out!
To see more about Herbal Pantry Staples, check out my article in Llewellyn’s 2015 Herbal Almanac, which you can purchase directly from them.http://www.llewellyn.com/product.php?ean=9780738726892

You can also get it from Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/Llewellyns-2015-Herbal-Almanac-Gathering/dp/0738726893

 

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To your Good Health – Wassail!

 

wassail in bowl

Soon we will be facing the longest night of the year, it will be here sooner than we realize! Creating new traditions out of old ones is something that can bring a feeling of satisfaction to our lives. As we connect via invisible airwaves, it is comforting to know we are still nourished by the same things that sustained our ancestors. In this case, The Apple.

apple cut to show star

Here is a short excerpt from my book, The Wild & Weedy Apothecary, about the tradition of Wassail – both the verb and the beverage.

The curious custom of Wassail — from the Anglo-Saxon wes hal, meaning “be whole” or to drink “to the health of” — is a midwinter toast to the apple orchard, and possibly dates back to the fifth century; some believe it is a relic held over from Roman sacrifices to Pomona, goddess of fruit. It was certainly practiced in the West Country of England up until very recently, and many neopagans and period-revivalists still do so — and why not?

The tradition took place on Twelfth Night, usually around January 5.  A biscuit or cake doused with cider was laid on a tree branch, doused again, and then all the folks who had gathered in the orchard would sing carols or hymns — “Hats full! Caps full! Bushel-bushel-sacks full!” and bang pots and pans together, with the men sometimes shooting their guns into the air, generally making a great noise to ward off uninvited bad spirits and to let the beneficent spirits know where the apple trees were.

wassail festivity

The wassail bowl was sometimes passed around and shared as a “loving cup” or was brought door to door to wassail the neighbors and their homes. Sometimes even beehives were wassailed. Proclaiming a toast to those things in life that are vital and necessary, such as food and friends, makes a lot of sense, and we can see that wassail is an activity as well as a food item.

Some recipes for wassail feature baked apples floating around the punch bowl. Most wassail recipes include brandy, stout, or some kind of alcohol, although you could certainly make it without.

 ripe apples

Here is a recipe that takes a little bit of time and fussing, but the results will be fun to share with your fellow revelers.

English Wassail

12 small red apples

3  each, whole cloves, allspice berries, and cardamom seeds

1 cinnamon stick

2 quarts good English ale

1 teaspoon each ground ginger and nutmeg

2 cups natural sugar

1 fifth bottle dry sherry or port

6 eggs, separated

Bake apples at 350-degrees for 20 minutes, set aside. In a large saucepan, place the whole spices, 2 cups of the ale, and the ground spices, and slowly heat for 10 minutes. Strain ale into a bowl, discard spices, and return ale to the pan. Add remaining ale, the sugar, and the sherry or port, heating on low for about  20 minutes; do not boil! In the meantime, beat the egg whites until firm, beat the yolks until creamy, then fold in the whites. Slowly beat the hot ale mixture into the eggs until smooth (you can see why you don’t want it to boil). Carefully pour the hot liquid into a heatproof bowl. Float apples on top. Serve warm in heated mugs.

wassail cup

 

Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail too!

 

http://www.llewellyn.com/product.php?ean=9780738719078

https://www.amazon.com/The-Wild-Weedy-Apothecary-Concoctions/dp/0738719072

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