i’m a nut case…
Warning: This post was written in a house that very likely contains more than a few traces of tree nuts.
That’s because I have this personal habit of putting nuts in anything and everything I cook. (Are you scratching your head now and wondering if I’M nuts? Probably.) But I thank my lucky stars that I’m not allergic to these puppies: I throw toasted almonds or walnuts in salads, I roll my chicken breasts in chopped pecans, and if you asked me to name my favorite dessert—baklava would be the hands-down winner. Most of the time, my family goes along with this obsession; but when it comes to baking, they’re a little more finicky. To placate them, I’ve actually developed an effective (if not somewhat OCD) strategy of baking a pan of brownies and inserting toasted walnuts into one half of the batter after it’s been poured into the pan. Same goes with chocolate chip cookies—I drop the dough sans nuts on one baking sheet, then add the good stuff to batch number two.
I can’t recall the last time I actually bought a bag of nuts at the regular grocery store, though, because prices are truly unreasonable. A tiny, 2.25-ounce bag of chopped almonds runs about $3; the same size bag of pignoli (pine nuts) is almost $8. By my calculations, that makes about a tablespoon of the world’s most expensive pesto. For a while, I bought my nuts at Costco (large, cheap bags)…but then I’d have to bring them home, spread them on baking sheets, toast them, cool them, and store them in the freezer. These days, my favorite source is Trader Joe’s (www.traderjoes.com), where the selection is huge, the prices low (one pound of almonds runs $4.69; eight ounces of pignoli are $8); and the nuts are available both raw and pre-toasted. Even better, they sell Sesame Honey Almonds, which to me, is like packaging sweet, crunchy Oxycontin and selling it in one-pound bags for $5.
As far as I know, I haven’t killed anyone yet…but in my early married days, one dinner guest’s husband ran to the car to retrieve a bottle of Benadryl. After that, we always seemed to meet for meals in a restaurant. So is it just me? Or are you nuts, too?