Christmas is a time of year when I really miss black walnuts. Having grown up in Kansas, we were blessed to have a huge black walnut tree in my grandmother's front yard. Later we bought her house and it became our tree.
From the time I was able to walk, I learned about the walnut stomp. If it happened to be a year for the walnuts to bear, we would see crazy looking green balls growing on the tree.
By fall these would drop off and the walnut stomp began.
Now for the walnut stomp you needed old grubby shoes and gloves (unless you wanted stained hands for weeks on end), old clothes that you didn't mind getting stained, and good balance. The green husks had to be taken off the walnut itself, so we would stomp and roll and mush and wrestle with those husks until we were left with little black balls instead of green ones.
Of course, that wasn't the end of it. Black walnuts have to dry and so my grandmother had a perpetual supply that went from year to year drying in her old-fashioned, dirt floor basement. We'd pick up the previous batch and put them aside for cracking and lay down the new year's supply for drying.
With that done, we went to work cracking dried black walnuts. Walnut shells are not for the faint of heart. You won't find very many people who can crack these black beauties with their hands. I always relied on a hammer. In fact, we usually cracked a whole bunch, put them in a pan or bag and then spent cold evenings getting the meats out of the shell in a warm house.
So having spent years upon years counting on black walnuts to be available for pumpkin and banana nut bread, fudge and other candies, etc. moving to Montana proved to be a nightmare. It's almost impossible to get a black walnut up here. In fact, I've run across folks who didn't even know there were different kinds of walnuts!
But what can I expect? They don't grow here. They are an eastern US tree and Montana is clearly in the wild west.
So yes, I'm jealous of the fact that Judy Miller, Kim Sawyer and Tamara Alexander can easily get black walnuts and I can't.
However, I want to make black walnut bark.
No - not the tree kind, but the white and dark chocolate, peppermint kind.
I want black walnut chocolate chip, oatmeal cookies. I just want to snack on black walnuts.
So I managed to find some on-line.
Thank the Lord for online shopping. My black walnuts are slated to arrive tomorrow and I couldn't be happier. They are my Merry Christmas to me presents. The bread and fudge will be Christmas for everyone else.