Saturday, September 29, 2012

A hard nut to crack

These boogers are hard nuts to crack, but they're so good they're worth the trouble. 
Now, black walnuts are not something you sit around and munch on out of hand like peanuts, at least I don't, but they make a batch of chocolate fudge taste divine and they're also mighty tasty in chocolate cake. 
Black walnut trees are plentiful out in the countryside, and the nuts drop off in September and October, so now's a good time to gather some up for the winter.  Just pretend you're a squirrel.
Once you gather a few bucketsful, you can spread the nuts behind wherever you park your car. Whenever you back over them, the tough green outer hulls will get smashed off. 
Once the hulls are off, it's a good idea to spread the nuts out on screens or newspapers to cure for a few weeks before attempting to crack them. 
I read somewhere that the easiest way to crack black walnuts is to use a vise to crack the shell then use wire cutters to clip the tough inner membrane that holds the nutmeats in place. 
In the past, we've always cracked them with a hammer and picked the nutmeats out, but walnuts are hard and stubborn and contrary and pieces of shell generally fly everywhere.
It's hard to imagine that squirrels can crack black walnuts with their teeth, but they obviously know a treat when they see one. 
Oh!  Don't forget to wear gloves when you gather, hull or crack these nuts. There are brown juices in that hull that will stain your hands for days. People will think you are a  mechanic. Trust me, I know. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Wild little beauties

September is the time of year when weeds have pretty much taken over our garden, and their blooms rival the beauty of anything I planted deliberately.
I just love sweet autumn clematis, and this is covering the picket fence in the back yard.  I see it growing in the wild a lot too, especially around old abandoned homesteads.

Morning glories are EVERYWHERE right now, but I kind of like how they cover the shriveled bean vines.

Golden rod and iron weed are two of my favorites for making fall bouquets. 

All this beauty from a bunch of “weeds"...
...we'll let them grow for now.