The local produce has been amazing this year. I don't think I can ever remember a year when peaches, pears, corn, cantaloups, etc. have been so juicy and sweet. I've also been spoiled to by the weath of great local produce stands where I can buy things that were still on the vine or tree an hour before I bought them.
So, it should come as no surprise that the wild "produce" is also pretty spectacular this year. Today's photo shows a hickory nut and its outer shell. I gathered several pounds of these nuts in less than half an hour this weekend. The nuts came from just two trees, and the majority of my find came from a single tree. I'm planning to gather more before the squirrels get to them.
Here on the mountain, I live in the midst of what is mostly an oak and hickory forest. It's not nust the hickory trees that are producing lots of very large nuts. The acorns this year are highly impressive and very large too. Just to give you an example: my nearest neighbor has one of those aluminum carports that's positioned about 75 yards from my cabin. When one of those acorns falls on the carport, it sounds like a shot. It sets the dogs to barking. One night the sound woke me up from a sound sleep. I can't imagine what it sounds like from inside their house.
Hickory nuts have an amazing flavor and aroma--just like butterscotch. My mother told me this weekend that my grandmother used to put hickory nuts in her butterscotch cookies, and I'm tempted to try that. Cracking open the hickory nuts isn't difficult, but picking the nuts out of the shell is. I have to use one of those nut pickers to pry out the nut. I never get pieces that are very large, and sometimes I think the work likely uses more calories than I get from the nuts, but the flavor is worth it. Besides, I have all winter to work on them.