When we moved to our present house three months ago, we inherited a pretty matured garden. One of the things left by the former owner was this: the walnut tree. This was a picture I took while we were still viewing the house. It was last spring. As you can see, the tree was budding with the green husks distributing extensively on the stalks.
My knowledge of walnuts was closed to zero, zilch, nada! Besides knowing that these nuts grow on trees, I hardly ate walnuts. They looked too brainy for me. LOL!
The wonder nut
After the last harvest, and a lot of (messy) work in metamorphosing this wonder nut, it kind of grew on me after just one season. I was determined to find a lot more about Mr (or Ms) Walnut…
If I may say, a walnut is like a human head. The green leathery fleshy husk is akin to the human skin. When the husk is peeled off, we get the wrinkly hard walnut shell, which – analogically speaking – is the human skull. The shell has two halves and encloses the kernel, which is also made up of two halves (better known, in the human language, as our right and left brains). What uncanny resemblance, eh?
I read that walnuts (especially in their raw form) contain the highest total level of antioxidants, compared to certain other nuts, such as almonds, peanuts and hazelnuts.
A study has suggested that the consumption of walnuts increases fat oxidation and reduces carbohydrate oxidation without affecting total consumption, suggesting that walnut consumption may improve the use of body fat in overweight adults. Cool!! Exactly what I’m looking for. Walnuts, anyone??? I have a basinful of these nuts at home, waiting to be cracked:-)
Walnuts, walnuts and more walnuts…
By the way, what you see here was the third batch of last year’s harvest! We have given away more than half of the harvest…AND… I have not finished cracking all the walnuts!
I am determined to find out the (real) shelf life of walnuts. I’m still a novice; a greenhorn in this field. Give me a couple of seasons. I’ll come back and blog about it 😉 I’m sure in-shell walnuts will have a longer life span than shelled. Before this year’s harvest loomed on, I thought I should do something with the remaining walnuts before they become rancid.
And, believe you me, there are loads of things I could do with the versatile nut.
Cups of different sizes from the US of A!
By the way, what have cups got to do with walnuts? Plenty! Read on…
If you have read my post, Baking is not really my cup of tea, or is it? you will know why I hardly baked. That, however, did not deter me in looking up good, yet easy recipes on the net. But…darn! Most of the measurements are using cups, yes, C*U*P*S of different sizes!!! For heaven’s sake, I’m into metric system!
And, hey, what were you thinking of, eh? Cups 😉
Then I “stumbled upon” someone, who is now a friend. She’s the reason why I started to bake again. My friend’s name is Chris. She lives in the States. She’s a blogger, like me. You can find her here
I was drooling on her Marble Chiffon Cake (post of Feb 13th) and left this message on her comment box on 14th February.
“Chris… I can only envy with your result! Me and baking are not a match at all. You made it looked so easy, as your cakes always turn out fab. Maybe I should seriously go for imperial measurements rather than metric 🙂 ”
And hey, presto, I got a personal message from Chris that evening!
I hope I’m not adding clutter to your inbox. I just wanted to offer to send a set of US measurement cups to you…consider them a belated Christmas gift. Figure the measurement cups will come in pretty handy anytime you would like to try an American recipe instead of having to convert the measurements all the time. Let me know anytime and I’ll pick a set up the next time I’m out.”
It was too good to be true. How could I say “No”? Yeah, bring ‘em over, Chris ! LOL! The cups arrived at our doorstep in Belgium on 22nd February. Chris shipped the cups from the USA on 18th February! Boy was THAT quick!!
My first cupcakes
Although I have baked cakes, or rather, attempted to bake cakes, I have never made cupcakes. Funny, but I was quite excited with the idea of making my first cupcakes. It must be the cups from Chris that nudged me on 😀
Being the typical me, I opted for a “piece of cake” recipe with no-frills, but must include the essential item, walnuts! Yay! Found it!
I made these Walnut and Cinnamon Cupcakes, using the paper cups I bought at IKEA. Buying the 12-hole muffin mould at IKEA was a mistake. The moulds were so slender that the cupcakes turned out like cylindrical tubes! Yikes!! I was not a happy bunny. Luckily, I had a normal 6-hole muffin mould which was used to finish up the rest of the batter. Mmmm…a lot better looking, but they did not rise as much as I wanted them to. Anyway, I was quite contented with the result of my first cupcakes. And so were the three guys. The cupcakes were gone as fast they came out of the oven. LOL!
I used fresh cinnamon, grated nutmeg and cardamoms, and ground these up in a pestle and mortar and filter these through a sieve before combining with the rest of the batter. I used vegetable oil instead of butter and light brown sugar with 2 eggs, milk, flour, baking powder, vanilla extract, a pinch of salt and the star ingredient, chopped walnuts!
From cupcakes to a wholesome cake
I shelled quite a lot of walnuts the last days. Last Sunday, I used some to make Walnut and Carrot Cake.
Here’s the result!
This was a very easy cake, just like I wanted it to be. It was an all-in-one-bowl cake! As the name of the cake suggested, there’re chopped walnuts and grated carrots besides the rest of the ingredients: 2 eggs lightly beaten, 2 tsp grated zest of an orange, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, a third of a cup orange juice, half cup vegetable oil, two thirds cup brown sugar, one and a half cups self raising flour. Put all the wet ingredients in a large bowl and add in the dry ingredients. Combine to form an amalgamated batter before pouring this into a lightly greased cake tin. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180°C for 45 minutes, or insert a toothpick in the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is ready.
I omitted the frosting bit as I thought it would be too sweet. I did mention “no-frills”, didn’t I? By the way, less is more:-D
Chris, thanks for the cups. They’re for keeps! Yay!
Here’s a song I hope you and all readers out there will – most definitely – enjoy. I thought it was perky, cute and catchy. I’d never thought of making or singing a song about walnuts. Walnuts (yeah) do not lie (oh)!
Other ways I’ve used the walnuts, apart from baking –
1) Instead of snacking on cookies, I’d pop some walnuts in my mouth and eat them as snacks. Great way to reduce your hunger pangs 😉
2) Sprinkle some roughly chopped walnuts on your salad to add some crunch
3) Add some chopped walnuts in your yoghurt, oatmeal or breakfast cereal
I’m sure there are many more ways to use the walnuts. For the record, my sons would only go for No 2, in addition to the baked versions 😀
How about you?
Cheers and a happy spring season to ya’ll!