I like nuts. There, I’ve said it and now that it’s out in the open, we can move along. I enjoy most nuts and love snacking on them. There are a few that I do not like, but honestly there aren’t too many of those.
I try to keep nuts on hand for us to snack on and for cooking. They provide protein and have healthy fats so you don’t have to feel bad about eating them. They add great crunch and texture to dishes and I find they work amazingly well with a nice bowl of oats.
Growing up we didn’t really have nuts around all that much other than your standard peanuts which were for my dad to munch on. My mom didn’t eat nuts and even though I love PB with all my heart and soul, snacking on peanuts wasn’t something I enjoyed unless presented to me in the form of brittle. Which is a different story all together.
However, every year during the holiday season Grandma R would have out a bowl of whole nuts that you would have to crack yourself. This fascinated me more than it probably should have. I loved seeing all the different nuts and the type of shells they came in. I liked trying to identify them and then see if I could get one out whole. Cracking nuts is a very serious business because you can’t just go crazy or you will crush the insides, leaving you with dust. Which isn’t really all that appetizing, trust me.
Every year during the holidays, the grocery stores bring out the bulk bins of whole nuts and the nut mixes and I get nostalgic remembering the bowl Grandma R would have out.
This year on a whim I decided to buy some mixed nuts to put out. Scott thought I was crazy as this is not a tradition he is familiar with because his family did not do whole nuts. We already had a nutcracker set because I actually bought it to use on crab legs! Scott also thought the little digging tools that came with the nutcracker were sort of pointless and silly. This from someone who’s never used them.
I had the perfect little milkglass bowl to put the mix in. One that had been picked up in a secondhand shop at some point. I poured the nuts into the bowl and placed the nutcracker alongside them. And then I dug in. Then Scott decided to give it a try and guess who now is in love with the technique? Yup. “Those little tools are handy!” It’s amazing how much comfort I find in having this out. It’s just a small bowl but it’s presence takes up the whole kitchen. I look at it and instantly remember holidays at Grandma R’s house which always makes me smile.
And I’ve decided to bring the tradition back and from now on, it’s going to be crack your own during the holidays. Our current favorite is the Brazil nut which also proves to be the most difficult in cracking. We have yet to get a whole, intact nut but we’re working on it!
Was/is this a tradition in your family for the holidays?