A few weeks ago, as I lunched with my younger brother, our conversation turned to talking about nuts. I think it started with cashews. I had said that for most of my young years I didn’t like them. I reminded him of how, when I was about 4 or 5, our grandmother always had a dish full of cashews sitting out within easy reach. I probably enjoyed lifting and replacing the lid on her glass dish as much as taking out handfuls of nuts. I ate so many of them at the time that I lost my taste for them. Now I’ve learned to like them again. I often use them in stir fried dishes, but since cashews are soft nuts, I usually pass them at the table to add to hot foods so they won’t get soggy.
As we talked about cashews, I noted that grandma called them “cashew nuts” as if the word ‘nut’ had to be included. Then we thought of our other names for nuts. What others did we do this with – add the word ‘nut’?
Well with peanut, it’s part of the word, although peanuts are not really nuts but part of the pea family – legumes. Walnuts – again, ‘nut’ is part of the word. Then there is the hickory nut, a member of the walnut family. Brazil nut – well, we can’t say “would you like a Brazil? We have to say ‘nut’ so we know it’s not the place. Hazelnut – “Have a Hazel” just isn’t the same as “Have a Hazel nut.” Of course, you could call them filberts instead. Macadamia – is that a place? It’s not in my world atlas.
Now about grandma’s “cashew nut.” I usually just say “cashew” alone, but either way sounds OK. Both ways are listed in the dictionary.
What about the species of hickory, the pecan? We don’t seem to ever say “pecan nut.” The word pecan stands alone. So does its flavor. Slightly soft, easy to chew, sightly sweet but not too, the delicious pecan is featured in this week’s recipes. Since they blend well with maple flavor, we’ve included maple recipes.
Be sure to note the Company Cabbage with Pecans on the opposite page. I tried it just this past St. Patrick’s Day with corned beef hash. These went well together. The cabbage is savory – subtle, but with a distinct tang from the mustard. I thought the pecans might soften and make the leftovers seem second rate, but I warmed them in the microwave and they were just a special as the first time.
Easter recipes next week featuring ham. Happy Eating! (Keep sending in ideas!)