FF: Crack your own

Crack your own

Crack your own

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.

Bringing it back

Bringing it back

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?

FF: Racing Greyhounds Glasses

My set

My set

Whenever I would go and visit Grandma R, at some point I would need a drink. There were two choices of glasses for me: I could either use a plastic, awesomely avocado green 1970s cup (complete with silver stars!) or I could drink out of the greyhound glasses. I usually went greyhound.

To my kid self these were just regular glasses which happened to have greyhounds on them. We had nothing like this at my house and when you’re a kid, if it’s different it’s cool. I knew where the glasses were and could get my own drink. In fact I can still see them sitting in the cabinet over the coffee pot waiting to be used.

For all I know, my grandma could have had other glasses but I never used them. Even as I got older, I always went for the greyhound glasses. Unless I was feeling spunky and then it was avocado green and silver stars all the way.

New purpose

New purpose

Daily Eats readers will recognize these glasses because I use one almost every day. After every run I have a glass of chocolate Silk. Always, no matter what. These are my running glasses. They are used for nothing else and by no one else. It’s fitting because I am running, racing against myself, racing towards multiple goals. These glasses with the racing greyhounds and flapping flags remind me what it is that I’m running for. Remind me of where I come from. Remind me of my grandma’s house and getting my own drink.

I only have two glasses, black and orange because that was all my grandma had. I alternate between them, one week is black and the next is orange. My mom thinks these might have been jelly jars that you could use as drinking glasses. Scott did some further digging and they seem to be PB glasses from the 1950s and are not an easy thing to find. I’ve always assumed they were an obscure item because other than these two I haven’t seen them anywhere else.

My search on the internets has resulted in an Ebay page selling a complete set of these. I had no idea there was a complete set! And I got a little teary eyed seeing the entire set because how lovely would it be to have a whole set? A whole set of running glasses just for me to use after my runs. That would be awesome.

Flashback Fridays (FF)

When it comes to kitchen accessories, I am all over the older stuff. When I say accessories, I mean things like mixing/serving bowls, casserole dishes, pots, plates/sets and things of that nature. To me it seems more homey and genuine when something is made or served in a dish that has been used before and was a part of someone else’s cooking life. The things from the past also seem to have more character and flair than the stuff made today.

Because of my love for “retro” kitchenwares, I go to yard-sales and hunt through secondhand shops to get my hands on some nice pieces. One of my favorite things to collect are milk glass items. I have several pieces in my collection and am always on the lookout for more. Whenever I go and visit my mom, one thing we always try and do is hit up the local secondhand shop to see what kind of kitchen stuffs they have in stock. Next on my list of favorites to collect are mixing/serving bowls and casserole dishes. I love the retro look of those and love using them for cooking. It somehow makes me feel more connected with what I’m doing when I use an older piece.

I’m lucky enough to have a good start on my collection due to my secondhand finds and the things I have inherited that belonged to my paternal grandma (Grandma R) and things that belonged to my maternal grandmother. I also have a growing collection of old timey cookbooks. I adore older cookbooks and love spending my time flipping through them to get an idea of what life was like during that time and figuring out how can I take the bones of a dish and make it my own.

Because of my love for these pieces, I thought that a “Flashback” section on the blog that would feature these things would make for an interesting topic. Sometimes it might be a dish or kitchenware that I have, or it might be about a recipe I found in one of my old cookbooks. Now I can’t promise it will be every Friday but every so often I could post about an item in my collection.

What do you guys think? Does it sound like this would be a fun project to do?