Wandering around local markets is the best way to understand the real character of a city or town. Last weekend we ventured out from our Hotel Hotel Room in the New Acton precinct of Canberra to the Jameson Centre Market in Belconnen. In among the”trash and treasure” was a great selection of fresh produce stalls manned by passionate growers spruiking their bounty.
I came away with basket full of produce and even better, stories and tips from the growers; while buying a savoy cabbage from an eastern European farmer I learned how to make a rich and healthy broth with pig trotters, beans and cabbage and while selecting ginger from a large basket I was gently guided by a wonderful Vietnamese women towards older ginger stems. She whispered “never buy the young ginger, the flavour hasn’t developed properly”.
When I reached the walnut stall I hesitated over the large bag for $11.00 … it was a shame I didn’t have a nut cracker. “Simple, simple” said the women behind the stall, “My dear, you only need a knife”. With that she pulled out a sharp knife and demonstrated with a quick click how to quickly and gracefully crack into these shells and get to the prize inside.
Best Ever Tip for Opening Walnuts in the Shell
Once you know the right spot to insert the knife, it’s almost like shucking oysters.
By inserting a knife a little way in to this weak point in the walnut shell you can lever it open just by the twisting motion as you hold the shell.
Please note: The knife you use can be small but it must be strong and with a slightly wide tip. (we used a very large knife in these photos so we could show you what to do) and obviously it’s not appropriate for young children to try this.
Follow these step by step pictures.
Chunky Fresh Apple and Walnut Clusters
There is very little batter in this recipe so these clusters really are chock full of apple, walnuts and raisins.
Oven temperature 325C
- 6 organic granny smith apples peeled, cored and cut diced into tiny pieces
- 1 cup coconut sugar (or raw sugar)
- 2 large eggs at room temperature beaten lightly
- 2 cups wholemeal self raising flour (I used stone-ground organic flour)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil or olive oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
- Toss the apples and sugar in a bowl till they are well coated
- In another bowl whisk the eggs and oil and vanilla
- In a third bowl stir together (with a fork) the dry ingredients: the flour, cinnamon and salt.
- Stir on egg mixture with the apple mix
- Then add the flour mixture and stir the batter till just combined
- Then stir in raisin and walnuts
Place large spoonfuls of the mixture (it will be full of apples, walnuts and raisins ) into the patty tins and bake for 20 or 30 minutes. Let cool for a short while and eat warm. You can also put the mixture into into a few small loaf tins and slice it like a rich fruit loaf (see last photo below)