October 1, 2010

Nuts in All their Glory

Welcome back to Missouri Week, and after a good ol' barbecue/BBQ it's good to focus on some snack foods. Corey Dillon who eloquently told of her family gatherings on Wednesday, mentions that of Misouri's top produce - apples, black walnuts and pecans -- two of them are nuts. I don't know what that really says for a state, but I still remember all the peanut jokes when Georgia's Jimmy Carter was in office. (I don't think President Truman had to encounter pecan or walnut jokes. Check this fun link for recipes associated with former presidents. Seems President Truman liked lemon and key lime pies and Bess made an Ozark pudding that mentions nuts as an ingredient, but doesn't specify which kind!)

But I can tell you I'm convinced that Missouri pecans are the best in the country. They're sweeter and farmers -- and even right on their packaging -- claim it's because the growing season is shorter. And Corey, a fellow foodie, recommends this Spiced Pecan recipe from Edna Scott's "The Gift of Southern Cooking."

Brunswick, boasts the World's largest Pecan (see link and pic here!), and celebrates the joy all of things pecans at their festival starting today. (We couldn't have timed that better.)

There are also two apple festivals in the state this weekend. Check out Lexington and Versailles. And Stockton has a Black Walnut Festival  in September. 

Personally I like English walnuts better than Black Walnuts, but my father is crazy about Black Walnuts. As a kid we've pick up the green hulled nuts from below the two trees that were near the stream bed at my parents' farm. They'd always be an old plastic bucket with nuts that my dad would crack open eventually with his hammer and anvil. To this day, I can still imagine that potent, earthy yet not quite pleasing smell that permeated from the fresh Black Walnuts. Its sad to think, but I don't know if my daughters know that fresh nuts even had a particular smell, they just associated nuts with the manufactured "fresh roasted" smell. Check out this site for more info on purchasing Black Walnuts. There's a recipe directory here.

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