Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Squirrels

A few days ago, I was visiting a friend and we were talking about gardens and the overload of the end of summer. When everything seems to get ripe at once. My friend told  the third person present, "They're just like those little animals in the forests...in America, the squirrels, up there on the hill."
That's what we are, squirrels. That is what has been preoccupying my days lately. The picture above is just a small but esthetic portion of our hazelnut harvest. There were a few trees when we moved here, but we have planted at least 6, which are beginning to really bear. I love hazelnuts. There's a little work in the preparation. You have to take the leafy hats off, then crack them, which is simpler than walnuts. Then we freeze them.
I was able to squirrel away at least 8 kilos. Roasted hazelnuts are so good in salads and we have enough to use them in desserts. Here,  on the big old farms with oil presses, hazelnut oil is made. It's powerful stuff, a little goes along way, but cut with a little canola oil, it is a wonderful ingredient to dress a salad with.
I rarely thought about hazelnuts in America, they seemed to be only used as filler in cans of mixed nuts, but in Europe, they are an integral part of the cuisine of every country.
I guess you can get the extremely sinful hazel Italian Spread, Nutella in America?
Dangerous combination, chocolate and hazelnuts. Think Pralinee, the chocolate nutty filling in so many chocolates, or just chocoalte covered hazelnuts, various combinations of which are the staple of every luxury box of assorted European chocolates.
It's bounty time here, but that means kilos of tomatoes to prepare, green beans to pick and pre cook and freeze, aubergines, the (gasp) terminal assault of the zuchinnis...corn to precook and freeze...the beets and carrots....the leeks stay in the ground until we need them, Then there is the bounty of the neighbors, a phone call telling us that we can come over and pick as many little mirabelle plums as we want and we want them!
Soon, we will gather walnuts from a friends trees, after all this is the walnut capitol of the planet. I have already started to dig up potatoes.
Then there are the figs..................... 

3 comments:

mikeb302000 said...

Micro, Thanks for that wonderful post. My mouth is watering just reading about all that good stuff.

We do indeed have hazelnuts here in Italy. I'd never heard of Nutella before moving here but my kids have grown up with it and with the advertising pitch which says, "what kind of childhood would it be without Nutella?"

We call them "nocciole."

mud_rake said...

Nutella is popular with my grandchildren because my wife and I bought it for two German girls who stayed with us one summer.

I personally do not like the taste of hazelnut, but that's the way one's tongue receives information. Nor do I like macadamia or Brazil nut, yet all nuts but these three are welcome on my palate at any time and often!

microdot said...

Well, there's no accounting for taste. I've found that my palate has expanded and I like many thinks that as a child I couldn't imagine eating.

MIke, I have very close Italian friends in NYC and my wife sends them pictures of our year in food....Noisette, Noccioli...j'adore!
She was living with our friend in Perugia years ago and the two girls would buy a pot of Nutella and share it with their special Nutella spoons.
She has invented a Nutella Ice Cream recipe that is pretty grand.
The ice cream of the week, though is Chestnut/Vanilla!
I have to publish this recipe.
It is the best.....

My computer is acting up again, because of the heat and is getting very cranky because it knows that it's days are numbered!