Sunday, December 5, 2010

acorns and apologies

I'm so sorry. I just realized it's been almost a month since I posted. No excuses, I'm sorta kinda overwhelmed at the moment (and for the foreseeable future).

That being said, I FINALLY had some leisure time to play with my acorns.

When last we saw them, the dehydrated, cold and hot leached nuts were safely jarred and waiting in the fridge. After hours of internet research and obsessive recipe reading, I decided on two dishes. Ed and Beverly were coming for dinner, and since I collected the nuts from their deck, I hoped they'd get a kick out of eating the harvest. Of course, I didn't plan to tell them what they were eating till after they'd had a bite.

If you grew up in New England, you may be familiar with Boston brown bread, baked in a bean can. At Prodigal Gardens I found several acorn recipes, including one for Acorn Molasses Brown Bread.

It's moist, dense, and slightly sweet. Slid out of the can like a dream. I sliced it thin, toasted it, and spread with a little butter. So very delicious. Here's the recipe with my (few) tweaks:

Acorn-Molasses Brown Bread
1/2 c. acorn flour (cold-leached)
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. butter milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3/8 c. dark molasses (not blackstrap; it's not quite sweet enough)
1 c. chopped raisins

Mix everything together to form a batter, then scoop into 2, 16-oz, clean and well-greased bean cans. Fill to 3/4 full, then cover with aluminum foil and attach w/a rubber band. Cook in a boiling water bath for 2 hours; a canning rig comes in handy. Let cool 10 minutes, then slide the bread out onto a plate to finish cooling.

And what better to accompany Acorn-Molasses Bread then Acorn-Mushroom Soup? This recipe came from a blog I can't believe I'm just now discovering: Hunter, Gardener, Angler, Cook. Again, I tweaked it just a little and was thrilled with the results:

Acorn Mushroom Soup
1.5 c. acorn bits (hot or cold leached)
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 Tbs. butter
1 oz. dried (foraged) oyster mushrooms, rehydrated
2 bay leaves
1/8 c. sherry
2.5 c. chicken/mushroom stock
1/2 c. non-fat Greek yogurt
chopped parsley

Saute the carrot, celery, and onion in the butter till they soften. Add the rehydrated mushrooms and acorn bits and stir to combine. Saute for another few minutes.

Add sherry, bay leaves, and stock, and simmer for an hour, uncovered. Let cool, then blend to puree and add salt to taste. Return to heat, and if it's too thick, thin with additional stock.

Remove from heat and stir in yogurt, then top with chopped parsley. Ed took one bite, then said, "I don't have a clue what this is but it's freakin' delicious." Words to warm a cook's heart.

That pretty much does it for my first foray into acorn foraging; I only have about a cup of nut meats left. Yes, it's labor intensive, but totally worth it in my book. Here's hoping for another mast year in 2011!



At December 5, 2010 at 11:34 PM , Blogger meemsnyc said...

What two great dishes you got out of foraging. Awesome.

At December 6, 2010 at 7:07 AM , Anonymous Leda Meredith said...

That bread sounds delicious. I didn't do acorns this year, but wish I had.

At December 6, 2010 at 10:27 AM , Blogger Elizabeth said...

My youngest son's 4th grade class made something acorn and cornmeal-ish a few weeks ago, in recognition of what the first Thanksgiving had probably included. I think you should meet his teacher and lead a class next time you are up here. They'd love what you do!

At December 6, 2010 at 1:16 PM , Anonymous Vanessa Nielsen said...

Amazing! I just love it when "healthy" is also "yummy!"

At December 6, 2010 at 3:22 PM , Blogger Mum said...

Dear Ellen: Why should I be surprised at the acorn meal you created? But, I am bowled over. I don't suppose you'd make an extra loaf of the Boston Acorn Loaf for Christmas? That could be my present. Bon Appetit. Groses Bises

At December 8, 2010 at 4:36 PM , Anonymous Mark said...

Mmmmm! Lucky them! Sounds wonderful. Just think of all those acorns people rake up and toss.

Acorn cheese biscuits? Only kidding a little bit.

At December 9, 2010 at 1:12 PM , Blogger Sara said...

Mmmmmmmmm, good!

At November 20, 2011 at 3:51 PM , Blogger Hunger and Thirst said...

Hi, I host a foraging recipe challenge, and the featured ingredient for the month of November is acorn. I'd really love to include your recipes in the Round Up. The point of the challenge is to inspire people to cook with wild foods. And I think your bread and soup recipes could do just that. If you'd like to participate, could you please email a link to ? Thanks.


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