Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Chestnuts (Some things should just be left to the experts).

When my number two son was quite young, he got it into his head that he wanted his hair short - real short, a number one all over.  Instead of taking him to the barber's, where it would have been done and dusted in 10 minutes and cost all of $10, his Dad decides to do it for him and son of course agrees cause he wants it done there and then. 

Now Mr PMG liked to wear his hair short as well and was used to shearing his own tough nut with his electric clippers, happily patching the little nicks and gouges as he went.  For the first few days afterwards it sometimes looked like his head had gravel rash but amazingly, this fact didn't deter either of them and they pressed on. 

Things pretty soon took a turn for the worse when son decided he didnt like the feel of the clippers and kept moving his head.  Mr PMG got stressed and the hair was not looking too fabulous at this point - kinda like Liam Gallagher - with  mange.  Turns out it wasn't as straightforward as Mr PMG thought it would be and after every snip just made it look worse  the pair of them decided to call it quits. 

Lucky it was cold so the big beanie I made my son wear to the barber's for the repair job didnt look too odd.  You know that look the Masterchef contestants get when Matt lifts the lid on some torturously complicated dish?  That's the same look the barber had when he pulled the beanie off my son's head.  I could say horror but maybe that's taking it a bit far.  Maybe. 

When the barber's breathing returned to normal I stammered out an admittedly not quite truthful version of  events  which did involve apportioning some, (ok ALL), blame on my totally innocent younger daughter and sort of making Mr PMG the good guy cause he did try to fix it - albeit very badly.  Daughter still hasn't forgiven me but you know, needs must and all  that, she was only four for crying out loud, I didn't think she'd remember.  Besides I couldnt lay the blame on Mr PMG cause that would then reflect badly on me - as in "you're married to someone who would do this to his own child - what sort of person are you?"  Cause, you know, it matters what the barber thinks doesn't it.

After son was brought back to some semblance of normal and I paid much more than I should have I'm sure, (who's gonna quibble in that situation), I left the barber with his parting words ringing in my ears - "not as easy as it looks is it?"  And that's what I should have remembered when I spotted these beauties in the greengrocers. 

These beauties have now been sworn at, cussed over and kicked around in frustration cause it took me for flippin' EVER to get the shells off.  After breaking fingernails and reducing these lovelies to a crumbly ugly mess, I chucked them in the back of the freezer and declared (as confidently as the barber),  "As God is my witness, I''ll NEVER peel chestnuts again."   (Sorry Scarlett).  

And because it could be some time before these see the light of day I'll leave you with a recipe from Chestnut Growers Australia   - experts in their field - just like the barber. 

               Chestnut and Rice Soup

(Courtesy of Ann Creber, Food Consultant and chestnut grower, Melbourne)

(Serves 6)

300g peeled chestnuts
3 tbspn extra virgin olive oil
1 small white onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 medium potato, diced
8 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
2 cups Aborio rice (or short grain)
salt to taste

1.Prepare chestnuts and peel, after boiling in hot water for 10 mins.

2.Chop coarsely and put aside.

3.Warm olive oil in deep saucepan over low heat.

4.Add onion and saute gently, stirring often, until translucent.

5.Add carrots, celery and potato and stir.

6.Add chopped chestnuts, stock and bay leaves, bring slowly to the boil.

7.Reduce to a simmer and cook for 1-3/4 hours.

8.Add rice and cook for exactly 15 mins.

My tip - bribe/blackmail/beg someone to peel them for you!