Excited about food!

I’ve already mentioned I’m from a foodie family.  My family gets excited about food!  The food that excited me the most at the farmer’s market this week was something that usually excites me, just not this time of year—asparagus.  But thanks to Rena at Locavorious, I got fresh-frozen, vitamin-filled, ready-to-cook-and-eat asparagus.  I immediately came home and made one of my favorite quickies—-pasta with shallots, asparagus and goat cheese. What a treat!  Thanks, Rena!

My husband also gets excited about food—much of it different from the food that excites me—but we have some things in common.  Like chestnuts.  My Father loves chestnuts, too.  He made them regularly when I was a kid, but they seemed too weird and a pain to eat.  I finally tried them when my husband made them with Brussels sprouts based on a 1970’s Gourmet recipe that’s really easy. 

Basically, clean off the dirty leaves from the Brussels sprouts and soak them in water for a few minutes.  Then, make an X in the core to help them cook evenly inside.  Boil them in water until they are just tender, then drain them (my hubby says this keeps them from being bitter).  Put them back into the pot with just a little water or broth.  Let them simmer for a few minutes until they are tender and begin to glaze.  Then, add a little lemon juice and a squirt of ketchup.  (The original recipe calls for tomato paste, but we always make it with ketchup since we always have it and almost never have tomato paste.)  Add about ½-1 cup cooked chestnuts broken into halves or pieces and cook slowly until everything is glazed with the lemon/tomato “sauce.”  Salt and pepper to taste.  This recipe, unlike many vegetable dishes, is good as a leftover.  We usually use steamed or boiled,  jarred or vacuum-sealed chestnuts for this recipe that you can find at many grocery stores or online.  I’m still mastering cooking them myself.

I love chestnuts any way now!  Just plain roasted or steamed and in stuffing.  They have a sweet and savory taste right out of the shell.  I get extra excited when I see Michigan chestnuts in the store or farmer’s market. 

Michigan chestnuts rank as one of the sweetest.  Our state has more than 180 farms growing chestnuts, more than any other state.  Most of them are small growers in the southwest corner of the state.  Chestnuts grow naturally in Michigan and began to be grown as a commercial crop in the 1980s.

Unfortunately, the Michigan chestnut crop was affected by the same weather issues as the apples and cherries this year, so there weren’t as many fresh Michigan chestnuts available.

For more information about Michigan chestnuts, go to chestnutgrowersinc.com.

And tell us what you’re favorite chestnut story or recipe is.

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