"Simple like an uncarved block."
Tao te Ching


"Like an acorn that holds the promise of a thousand forests."

Sunday, September 13, 2009

SUNDAY STROLL under the Chestnut Tree

We are so glad to be helping foresters bring back the American Chestnut trees. I know I have mentioned the story of the almost total elimination of the trees from the American scene by a terrible blight. To refresh your memory, a few hardy trees have remained and for about one hundred years concerned people have been working to create a new blight resistant tree to repopulate the American Chestnut and restock the beautiful sturdy lumber that was used for building early America.
We have had these trees about 10 or 11 years, they started producing nuts at around 7 years and now we have a tree loaded and dropping fruit like nobody's business. My Dad warned me about the spiny hulls and told stories of barefoot boys walking across them without a second thought. As a child my Dad started walking the hills of Tennessee barefoot as early in spring as possible because new shoes were only bought for children once a year in the fall and little feet grew mighty fast.

Thus little feet were pretty tough by fall when gravels and burrs and all manner of rough surfaces were tramped across with no wincing or pain.

I look forward to finding a good recipe for roasted chestnuts. My Dad claimed they made a wonderful supper with cornbread and milk.

Other strollers are to be found at The Quiet Country House.

11 comments:

Everydaywoman said...

Cloudhands,

So glad you're doing your part to bring back the Chestnut tree! I also remember those spiny-covered nuts! Let us know if you come up with a good recipe for them; I've always wanted to roast chestnuts; it seems romantic, as in "chestnuts roasting on an open fire . . ."

Cloudhands said...

Without looking up a recipe I tried to do what my father told me they always did. You cut an x in the skin and roast them. Maybe the difference between an oven and a fireplace made them not especially memorable. I used the oven. Maybe we will try a bonfire and put a tin of nuts in the fire. I also figure they were poor and any dish different from beans or potatoes was appealing. But like you mentioned 'chestnuts roasting on an open fire' Somebody likes them.

Aisling said...

Mom,

I like the photos, but story about grandpa most of all. Street vendors sell roasted chestnuts in some places, I believe, so they must be good. They sound delicious anyway!

Cloudhands said...

Aisling,
I thought you might like the story my Dad told me. I think I told you I have stories on the edges of crossword puzzles and scrapes of newspaper and assorted papers, the plan is to organize then one of these days.

Debbie in CA : ) said...

I've been contemplating the planting of a chestnut tree in addition to the English walnut we've decided upon. Oh but for those spiny hulls! Our area sports MANY chestnut trees and the Christmas festivals spill over with chestnut roasters owing to the heavy English-rooted population from the gold mining days.

You've helped push me into the "plant it" category with that dish of dark treasure. I love a roasted chestnut along with a good chestnut stuffing. And it makes a great filling for cakes. Yummy!

I'm off in search of a tree at the local nursery. If I have to wait 7 years for some nuts I better get started! : D

Cloudhands said...

Debbie,
Are your local Chestnut trees the original American variety? We got four bare root trees from a local organization (can't remember who) that was promoting bringing back the American Chestnut. Two trees have died, I think we put one in a boggy area and the other just up and died. The remaining two seem to be florishing.
I'll keep following your web page and see if you share some recipes. My niece by marriage remembers chestnut dressing, but not how to make it. Thanks for stopping in for a visit.

Beth Niquette said...

How interesting! We have several of these chestnut trees on the back side of our block. They are in the grassy area between street and sidewalk--every year I pick a bowl of them.

So....how do YOU harvest and cook them?

Gilly said...

Those chestnuts look remarkably like what we call Sweet Chestnut, though it takes a really warm summer for the nuts to be big and good enough to eat!

I think they used to be roasted on a shovel over the fire, or a special shovel-like object only with little holes in, I suppose it made the heat get to the chestnuts easier.

Chestnut stuffing is traditional for turkeys at Christmas, only I'm not too fond of it!

Yes, they used to sell roasted chestnuts on the street, they had a little brazier the roasted them on. I gather they were great for warming your hands on! Don't know how you ate them though, those shells can be very hard and determined to stay on the chestnut!!

Cloudhands said...

There are several kinds of Chestnuts and it is the American variety that seems to have been affected. I expect the nuts are all edible and some may be better than others.
Reading the site on cooking and peeling the chestnuts also mentions how hard it is to peel them. The trick is to do small batches and work quickly while the peel is hot and pliable.
Here is an internet site on cooking and peeling chestnuts.

http://www.latimes.com/features/printedition/food/la-fo-calcook5tip-2008nov05,0,2518214.story

GartenGrl at Cool Garden Things said...

Those chestnuts look just like the buckeyes in my neighbors back yard!
GartenGrl

Cloudhands said...

G.G. The chestnut and the buckeye must be related species of trees. Checking on the buckeye I learned that the nut is poisionous and has to be treated in a special way to make it edible. The chestnut just needs to be roasted. Perhaps you know that carrying a buckeye in your pocket is supposed to bring you luck. Thanks for stopping by for a chat.