I’m currently broadcasting from sunny Anderson, California on this relaxing (definitely NOT shopping-til-I-drop) day after Thanksgiving. Last night’s meal was predictably fabulous: turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, fruit, cranberry sauce, mashed sweet potato and carrot dish, and marinated tempeh, followed by apple, pumpkin, and/or berry pie. Probably 90% of it was homemade/homegrown, mostly by my parents, including the heritage turkey.
We’re sharing a rental house with my mom’s family from the Bay Area/Southern California and spending our time chatting (arguing), cooking, eating, playing games, reading books, and basking in the sun. My kids are thrilled to have a whole crowd of adults (and one small cousin) read to them and play hide and seek.
My parents have two huge old walnut trees in their yard. Most years, the nuts get wormy and turn black, and the squirrels haul off the whole crop if there are any good ones left. For whatever reason, this year their lawn was littered with really nice walnuts. My mom collected them, dried them out by the wood stove, and was about to start in cracking them with a hammer. I intervened before she she went to all the effort and bought her a late-birthday/early-Christmas present from Lehman’s. This nutcracker makes cracking walnuts (or any nuts) a whole heckuva lot faster than whacking them with a hammer and then picking microscopic bits of wanut out of the debris. It requires essentially no muscle, and the walnut meats generally remain whole. If you ever need to crack a bunch of nuts, you gotta get one of these things.
My mom, my cousin, and I spent a couple hours in the last two days cracking and picking about 20 pounds of walnuts, and while it did take a bit of time, it was pretty easy and pleasant with good company and good conversation. Now, I’m not sure what we’re going to do with the gallon and a half of shelled walnuts produced by our efforts. If anyone has a great walnut-centric recipe, I’d love to hear ‘em.
Tomorrow, we’re taking a day trip to the Chico Farmers Market and various farmstands in the area. It’s our annual California food buying day, and we’re hoping to come home with several hundred pounds of citrus, nuts, pomegranates, olive oil, and whatever else looks good.
I hope y’all had a great Thanksgiving full of food and loved ones. I know I have so much to be thankful for this year: my health, my house, my family, my personal and professional successes, and a million other things. This is definitely a season when I feel particularly blessed.