Last night I filled a large tub full of walnuts that have been hiding in the corners of our home for years & years. Some of them are tiny: almond-sized, & I smiled thinking of the no-longer tiny hands that found them. There's always a rush when we find a "baby," because other baby walnuts are surely nearby.
October finds us in the walnut orchards of Full Belly Farm, walking with our eyes to the ground, sharing our treasures & cracking two walnuts against each other in our bare hands. It also has us pulling over along random walnut farms, filling our baskets with the overflow along the roadside. It's just that we love them so, these wrinkled-wooden spinning tops. Each one holds something no one has ever seen before, & if we pop it into our mouths, no one will ever see again!
D likes to tell the boys how his mom would set him up with a bowl of walnuts & a spoon so she could prepare dinner in the evenings. Likewise, these nuts are right up with pine cones as the most-used play item in our home. If we aren't stopping on our bikes to collect them, we are pounding them out with rubber mallets, "cooking" up a little sumthin'-sumthin,' or selling them to our brothers. They are fun to play catch with, lovely to display, interesting to smoosh when soft & they are undeniably seasonal, coming only when the pomegranates are beginning to crack.
This is our very favorite nut loaf, from one of my most-used cookbooks. Bonnie Mandoe ran Maui's first veg catering company, so her dishes run with just the flavors we love. We sometimes add a wedge of jack cheese & an additional egg. Once you know the recipe, it's very easy to throw everything into the food processor, then into an oiled casserole. Usually we make a double batch, for "sausage links" & patties that we pop into the freezer between sheets of parchment. Or we put them into smaller Pyrex dishes to freeze. These we defrost & slice before frying. When my vegetarian children stopped eating veggies & refused to eat meat, we just processed these ingredients very finely & they got everything they needed in their favorite meal.
Nut-Meat Loaf from Vegetarian Nights
"This is the dish to serve friends or relatives who believe they can't make it through the day without their ration of meat. It's also the dish for anyone who loves a hearty, old-fashioned meal. When I serve Nut-Meat Loaf with mashed potatoes, a green salad, & an ear or corn, it takes me right back to the 50's."
1 cup cooked brown rice
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 cup fresh bread crumbs (optional)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup minced green pepper
5 beaten eggs
2 T soy sauce or gf tamari
2 T Dijon mustard
1/2 t each black pepper, thyme, marjoram & sage
Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a large mixing bowl. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan & press mixture in evenly. Bake 50-60 minutes, until firm. Serve hot from the pan. (We top with mushroom gravy! m)