The husband came in from his morning walk with the dog a couple of days ago proudly bearing two walnuts. They are the first produce from a walnut tree planted five years ago. There are five more walnuts still on the tree. We've since planted 2 more walnuts (another 'Meyric' and a 'Shannon'), but have another 3 years or so to wait before either of those produce nuts. The nursery where we bought them says 5 years to production from a grafted tree; if you buy a walnut grown from a seedling you have to wait 10 years until nuts are produced.
Several years hence we won't need to collect roadside walnuts, as we will be producing enough of our own, but for now, nuts on the ground indicate it is time to go on our annual walnut foraging trip. We have several trees we visit each year; the best of these are beside State Highway 1, and other people are clearly aware of their existence. Sometimes we visit only to find the ground beneath thoroughly trampled and the nuts few and far between. In such cases, if our visit is early enough in the season that there are still nuts on the tree waiting to drop i will stop by these trees once or twice more in the hope of collecting more nuts. This time however, our visit was quite late and there were very few nuts remaining on the trees. People had already been collecting judging by the trampled state of the undergrowth, but luckily for us more nuts had fallen since the last forager's visit, and we collected a respectable amount - 3 large onion bags full, in fact. They are now hanging on the verandah drying out above the recently harvested pumpkins. Although these walnuts won't be ready to use for a few weeks yet, i still have walnuts in storage from last season (i'm the sort of squirrel who doesn't like to use up the previous harvest until i know what the current harvest will yield). The act of collecting nuts makes me think about using nuts, and with Easter and its concurrent sugar overload not yet faded from memory i decided some tasty Walnut Oat Biscuits would be just the ticket. This is an Annabel Langbein recipe i found in issue 61 of NZ Life and Leisure magazine. The only change i have made to the recipe is to decrease the amount of sugar from three tablespoons to one. They were never a particularly sweet biscuit, and don't suffer from the decreased sugar content in any way. They are delicious on their own, with a light smear of butter or with a slice of cheese.
WALNUT OAT BISCUITS
Annabel Langbein, in NZ Life and Leisure, May/June 2015
1/2 cup walnut pieces
2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup wholemeal flour
1/4 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
100 g soft butter
2 teaspoons boiling water
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celcius. Line two baking trays with paper.
Place walnut pieces in a food processor and whizz to a fine crumb. Add all remaining ingredients and process until mixture forms a soft, sticky dough. If too dry and not holding together easily, add another teaspoon or two of boiling water.
Use lightly floured hands to roll walnut-sized balls of dough. Place on lined baking trays and press flat. Bake until golden and crisp, about 20 minutes. Cool on trays and then store in an airtight container - they will keep fresh for weeks.
Makes about 40 if you don't sample too much of the mixture!