09 September 2009

Roasting chestnuts

The other day we spotted our friendly Korean neighbors using brooms to beat down a tree. Curious behavior that certainly got E's attention!!! Upon closer inspection, we discovered they were knocking these spiny balls out of the branches and scooping them into a pile in the alley. They covered the pile with branches, leaves and sticks from the underbrush, then lit a small fire and the pile smoked for a couple hours.

E thought we should try that for ourselves... so, being a good sport, I strapped Lu on my back and we hiked off into the woods behind our apartment- armed with a broom and a paper bag for collecting our loot.

First lesson- don't wear flip-flops when walking in the forest.
Second lesson- those spiny balls are SO SHARP that neither E or I could pick them up to put them in the bag, but instead devised a game of swatting them with the broom while one of us held the bag open.
Third lesson- mosquitos find young flesh especially tasty at dusk
Fourth lesson- if it looks like a maggot, moves like a maggot.... it's probably a maggot.
Fifth lesson- "I don't want to climb the tree." is not a good enough reason to pass up on all the chestnuts in the upper branches.

So... we bring home our nuts, sort them and rinse them off. Then to find a recipe....

Preheat your oven to 425 F (210 C). Take your chestnuts and make a cut across the round side of each to keep them from exploding, and arrange them either on a rack or on a cookie sheet. Roast them until the skins have pulled back from the cuts and the nutmeats have softened (exactly how long will depend upon the chestnuts, but at least 15-20 minutes. Remove the nuts from the oven, make a mound of them in an old towel, wrap them up, squeeze them hard -- they should crackle -- and let them sit for a few minutes.

I'll let you know how they turn out... it's a lot of work for a cookie sheet full of chestnuts!

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