Nibble on Nuts

Nibble, nibble, nibble. There is a lot of that going on right now. It is the nibblest time of the year. Since we will nibble anyway, we might as well do it on something that is relatively wholesome. The glazed and spiced nuts in the recipes that follow are yummy, irresistible in their own right, and not half-bad for you.

The glazed spiced nuts call for molasses, a nice change from corn syrup, and you can use almonds, pecans, walnuts, or cashews. The spices called for included ginger, cinnamon, and cloves—really the flavors of the holiday season and ones we use with molasses in other recipes especially for cookies and cakes. Nothing says we can’t substitute nutmeg or allspice for one of the spices. Suit yourself.

The buttered and herbed recipe that I originally obtained from my island neighbor Kathy Kerr, called for walnuts, and I also used pecans. It also called for rosemary, but alas, I was out of that. Toby and I pondered what would work, and he suggested thyme. Alas again, I was out of that, too. I used sage.

The recipe also called for paprika, and I decided to use a smoked paprika I had, and that lovely smoky odor rising up from the warm nuts as I stirred it in was intoxicating to smell. You could make a spicy Buffalo-wing version of these nuts by using garlic, chipotle powder, chili powder, and/or cumin. I don’t like my food to hurt me so I haven’t tried that combination. I think curry powder would be good, too. Add salt to taste or whatever your blood pressure can tolerate.

I hope you are enjoying as happy a holiday season as I am. Happy New Year, to you all, too!

Spiced Glazed Nuts

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons molasses

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 teaspoons ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon cloves or allspice

¼  teaspoon salt

2 cups raw nuts, your choice

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking pan with waxed paper or parchment paper. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Add the molasses and sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Heat over a medium to low heat until the mixture bubbles, then add the spices, salt and nuts. Stir until the nuts are evenly coated then spread them on the pan in one layer. Bake for fifteen to twenty minutes. Check to make sure the nuts don’t scorch. Cool and break into a container with a tight lid to store.

Makes two cups of glazed nuts.

Herbed Nuts

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons of olive oil

½ pound of walnut halves

½ pound of pecan halves

1 ½ tablespoons crushed rosemary, or sage, or thyme

1 teaspoon paprika

2 teaspoons salt

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Melt the butter together with the olive oil in a heavy pan. Spread the nuts in the pan and toss to coat them with the butter and oil mixture. Toast in the oven for about twenty minutes. Remove from the oven and add the herbs and salt and toss to coat. Let cool and store in a tightly covered container until serving.

Makes about three cups of nuts

Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.