26 September 2011

26 September - Crack Nut Sunday

Weather: The weather on the last Sunday of the month indicates the weather for the next month.

For some reason, a custom grew up that on the Sunday before Saint Michael's day (29 September) members of the congregation would fill their pockets and bags with nuts, and then sit in church, cracking the nuts during the sermon.  Goldsmith mentions it in his Vicar of Wakefield (1762) as a custom indulged in by the parishioners, so it had been in place for a while by then.

It seems rather rude.

Granted, there have been sermons during which my mind has wandered into envisioning more enjoyable employments of my time, but at least I have been quiet.  The constant cracking by young and old, even in a small congregation, must have reached the level of a small roar.

Well, I imagine that any parson used to this annual cracking-fest likely offered something inane in the way of a homily (since it wouldn't be heard anyway) and saved his good sermons for the rest of the year.

Still, this seems like a good time to get a start on garnering all those nut-meats that will be needed for your upcoming holiday cooking.  I'm not suggesting that you do this during church services!  Perish the thought!  No, this is good activity for a lazy Sunday afternoon, ensconced in the easy chair watching the game, or sitting around the table in conversation with family.

The nut-meats can be frozen (and should be if you are not planning to use them for a while); see the University of Missouri Extension page for how to freeze, and also how to roast nuts.  The California Walnuts website has a good recipe for Curried Walnuts [oh, yum!]  It takes a heap of pecans for a good pecan pie - it also takes a lot of skill to extract the halves.  Good luck.

And if you are shelling roasted peanuts or pistachios, well, I won't blame you if there are none left at the end of the session to show for your work.  Like harvesting cherry tomatoes from the garden - sometimes they just don't make it to the kitchen counter.