Thursday, January 19, 2012

if only I had an open fire

Have I told you about another one of our favorite Christmas gifts?  Steve's mom bought us a bag of Italian Chestnuts and I think that chestnuts will be a new holiday tradition from here on out. 

Neither of us had ever prepared or eaten chestnuts before, but the bag came with instructions and we have also been learning with eat batch we make. 

First you cut a slit in the rounded side of the shell.  We actually found that it works best to cut two slits, like a cross. 

We started out roasting them on a cookie sheet, but have since progressed to cake pans.  That way, the nuts aren't sliding off the edges when you pull them out of the oven.  We usually roast about 15-20 for the two of us.  There are always a few bad ones, or overcooked ones, so I like to account for those and make sure we have enough.

We roast them in a 475 degree oven for 18-20 minutes. 

Halfway through the roasting, the nuts need to be flipped over.  They start out laying on their flat side with the rounded side up.  Flipping them to get the rounded side down is somewhat of a challenge.  Remember Weebles?  

When they're ready, we put them in a big bowl and let them cool for a few minutes.  You want to peel and eat them while they're still pretty hot, so the trick is to find that perfect moment when they won't burn your fingers anymore, but are still quite warm.  It's like a game. 

Chestnuts taste unlike any other type of nut.  They are slightly sweet and have the texture of a baked potato.  They are also the only nut that contains vitamin C. 

Chestnuts are slow food.  The cutting ,the roasting, the peeling- all to get this little bit of nut meat.  I think that foods with a process are fun and love a snack that can turn into an event all it's own. (What do you want to do tonight?  Let's roast chestnuts!)  We have had so much fun adding chestnuts to our usual winter evening activities- watching movies, quilting, playing guitar, playing games.  All better with chestnuts. 

I had the good fortune of winning a free yard of fabric this week from Sew, Mama, Sew!, so today I'm going to take some time to pick my prize.  What fun!

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