Cold Smoked Maple Cajun Party Nuts

cold smoke roasted nut maple cajun recipe party

The Smoking Gun rides again! This time to impart its delicate smoky wisdom upon some roasted maple syrup and Cajun spiced mixed nuts (walnuts and pecans to be exact).  Roasting nuts is easy and sky’s the limit for flavor. I happens to have ajar of organic Cajun spices and maple syrup asking to be used for a party; along with nuts (victims of the Costco effect).

cold smoke roasted nut maple cajun recipe party

The smoke is delicate and not chemically. The resulting flavor is balanced salty sweet. If you don’t have a cold smoker, never fear- they are just as tasty of a treat without it. Now make some, eat some and give some as a hostess or holiday gift.


  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (real as you can find)
  • 3 tsp cajun seasoning ( I used the Safeway organic a brand)
  • 1 T hot water
  • 5-6 cups raw nuts


  • Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a cookie sheet with foil and coat with oil.
  • Mix syrup,water and seasoning in a large glass bowl
  • Add the nuts, whatever kind you have: almonds, pecans, walnuts, peanuts or even pistachios
  • Toss to coat really well
  • Spread out in a single layer on a foil lined cookie sheet. Do not skip this step unless you want to toss your pan when done.
  • Roast for about 30 minutes.  Remove from pan pretty quick so they don’t get too stuck.
  • If cold smoking, place roasted nuts in a plastic bag, fire up the smoking gun with your favorite ‘fuel’, fill the bag with smoke, tie it shut and wait! 30 minutes or longer.
  • Enjoy!
cold smoked roasted maple cajun nut recipe
Note: bag full of smoke!

Other Nutty Ideas

Other Smoked items


Meringue Rules of Engagement & how not to break them

2014-05-11 15 crop small

I recently made a rhubarb meringue pie (post coming soon). I had the general idea of how to whip up a meringue, but admittedly it had been a while. For some reason, once I had already combined all the ingredients and started beating, I decided to review the process to make sure I was on track. First Mistake! Look BEFORE you start. From here I came across a great list of tips and tricks to make the perfect meringue over at What’s Cooking America. I paused the beating to review the list and realize that I had broken almost every single rule. Despite this and probably thrice the usual amount of beating time, I did product a suitable meringue, albeit could have been taller.

Please read this BEFORE even starting your pie and do not do what I did!

Keys to Success How not to do it
Age of Eggs: Use eggs that are at least 3-4 days old
I used today’s eggs!Older eggs have thinner whites and whip up quicker and to a greater volume than fresh eggs with thick whites. But don’t use too old, because the meringue might fall quicker. Using store bought eggs will help avoid this issue.
Weather: Avoid egg white meringues on a rainy or really humid day I live in Seattle. End of story.
Separating Eggs: cold eggs separate easier.Even the smallest amount of egg yolk or fat (like oil, butter, oil on your skin) might wreck your meringue. The yolksand white of a cold egg stick together more. I did separate the whites correctly, by cracking the egg and transfer yolk back and forth between the cracked halves allowing the white to flow/plop into the bowl but fished out a piece of shell with my fingers (yes they were clean but still may introduce oil).
Temperature: Beat whites at room temperature. Takes about 30 minutes to warm up after being in fridge. My eggs had been in the fridge since I grabbed from nest box in the morning . What’s the impact? A room temperature egg white will increase up to 8 times its volume!
Utensils: Use an immaculately clean and dry glass or stainless steel bowls. This is THE only step I got right, apparently out of pure luck. Plastic bowls might have remnants of oil. Use an electric mixer going at a good clip (medium high). I cannot imagine doing one by hand…. Also, meringues do not like moisture.
Sugar: Add sugar at the very end after soft white peaks have started to form.
I dumped all of mine in about 30 seconds after starting to beat my egg whites. Adding the sugar at this point essential doubles or triples your whipping time to achieve a foam. Gradually add it in as well, continue to beat as you do. You can use superfine sugar to help speed up the process as well. It dissolves faster. I added an extra egg white because some of my eggs are small, but didn’t increase the amount of sugar. You need somewhere between 2 tablespoons to a ¼ cup of sugar per egg white. More sugar will make it harder to the touch when done.
Time: once you start a whipping up the eggs whites do not stop. I stopped to read the list and of course this tip was towards the very bottom. Eek! Another reason to not do by hand… no breaks! The longer you beat the stiffer the eggs whites. Towards the very end you can pause quickly to check for stiffness. Turn the mixer upside down (stop the mixer beforehand). Egg whites should stand up on the beaters.
Baking: Bake at 325 for 20-30 minutes, ideally on a warm filling. I did 350F for about the same amount of time. Seemed “ok” but this is one of many meringue infractions.
Storing: Best to just eat the day of…. I stored in the fridge after the initial eating. It did ok, started to collapse and get little beads of liquid on top. Consider you filling and if it needs to be refrigerated….

Even though I managed to pull out a meringue despite violating nearly every rule, next time I will follow the rules and probably save myself time, increase my heavenly foam output and avoid pie remorse….

Wondering what a meringue is anyway? It’s basically egg foam. Beating prompts the protein in the egg whites to unfold, forming films to trap the air, and the sugar serves to stiffen the foam.

Pickled Fennel – Canning Recipe

You bet this pickled fennel is from 2011! Great vintage, ages nicely. When I made it, I had acquired a few extra fennels on a sale but knew I wouldn’t eat them all. Fennel is a treat, despite being pretty humble, and more expensive at times than I think it ought to be. No worries here though, just pickle up what you have and save it for that perfect savory dish. It looks pretty in the jar too. After all, that is at least 30% of why I like to can….

Pickling is an easy way to get into canning and the risk of anything toxic or malevolent residing and thriving in that jar is next to nil. Pictured is a half-quart jar which is fine but I think smaller might be better for everyday use. I never worry much about the jar size, other than does it make sense for intended audience.


Pickled Fennel with Hint of Vanilla

  • 2 large fennel bulbs, or 3 medium ones
  • 2 of the pretties fronds from the bulbs
  • 3 1-inch slices of lemon zest, with all that white pith-y stuff removed
  • 1 1/2 cups vanilla sugar (or the same amount of white sugar with 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract added) – this is great because you add at very end so one jar can have it and the other maybe sans vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 3 cups white wine vinegar
  1. Cut the fennel bulbs into large chunks or strips or whatever size you want-people will eat these by the piece, so cut accordingly, and don’t make it too thin or it will mushify..
  2. Bring the sugar, salt and vinegar to a boil. Give it a quick taste – if it is too sour, you can add a little water, but no more than 1/2 cup. Add the lemon zest.
  3. Once the hot water bath is ready boiling, add the fennel pieces to the vinegar mixture, cover it and turn off the heat. Let it steep for 5 minutes.
  4. Wrap the fennel fronds into the bottom of your cleaned jars like a nest. Pack in the fennel pieces on top of the fronds; you want the fennel to come up only to the base of the neck.
  5. Pour in the vinegar mixture slowly, release any air bubbles by rotating, poking with chopstick or other methods. Pour enough to cover the fennel by at least a 1/2 inch. Drop in the vanilla extract here if adding to only part of the batch (divided it among the jars, not ¼ tsp PER jar)
  6. Seal the jar (finger tighten only) and process in the canner for 15 minutes. Let it stand to cool on a rack.
  7. Wait at least a week before eating. Unopened, this should last indefinitely. Mine barely changed in color as well.

Makes about 1 quart

Fennel Facts

  • It is a perennial, umbelliferous herb (I lOVE the word umbelliferous…. So Mary Poppins)
  • Fennel root was a flavoring used in Sack, an alcoholic drink containing mead that was popular back in the days of Shakespeare. But more well-known – it reigns supreme in absinth.
  • Lives along roadsides, apparently, which irritates me as I tried to grow it once and failed! Hardy roadside my …..
  • Pairs well with pork and fish
  • Flavor is pleasantly anise, licorice (don’t think red vines here)
  • The stalks have uses too! Added to fish or chicken broth, like celery or lay them down in a roasting pan instead a rack.
  • Fronds can be chopped like an herb and sprinkle to and fro. Can also make a fennel frond pesto that is tasty on pasta or things needing a sauce. Here is a recipe I have used in the past. It freezes great, I recommend doing so in “unit doses”
  • Medicinal rumors: “gripe water” for colicky infants; relieve bronchial spasms, improve eyesight, diuretic, dysmenorrhea and induce milk production in nursing mothers. Fennel tea, also employed as a carminative and I quote “to treat flatulence by encouraging the expulsion of intestinal gas”. The word carminative does not readily allude to that reaction but I would not be concerned of this when using pickled fennel as a garnish or additive.

Random info sources:

It’s Feeding Time at The Apiary – Sugar Syrup


“They could eat all they wanted, for maple sugar never hurt anybody.” Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House in the Big Woods

I don’t think Buddy the Elf could agree more either, but there is controversy out there about feeding your bees to help them get up and going in the spring time and set up for the long winter. My approach to bees over the last three years is to trust them to know what is best. However, I do feel though that I brought them to my apiary, in sometimes soggy Seattle and I need to help them out somewhat. Package bees are also an investment. My fledgling feeding philosophy is to feed syrup when I first get the packages going, or early spring for overwintered colonies and some feeding if needed depending on what they already stashed away. I am not doing pollen patties or dry sugar feeding and no medication or treatments. Maybe some year I will experiment with pollen patties but research and questioning more experienced beeks gives mixed results. Granted I am still pretty new with the bee thing, but I have found the advice of Michael Bush of Bush support my idea that bees are smarter than I am and aligns with the amount of time I want and have to put into it (read, not too too much).

You can get really scientific about what syrup concentration (sugar:water) is employed based on final goal. Some people want to use 1:1 in the spring to stimulate brood rearing, others do this in the fall so that have some new bees set to work the long winter. 3:1 could be used in the winter as you want them to put it away, not have to use as much effort to evaporate it down to the right concentration for capping (bees are so smart they know that at around 18% the honey won’t ferment and then cap off the cells, providing a visual cue that it is good to go, or stay). The thicker syrups don’t do much for brood stimulation. 2:1 is somewhere in the middle, more all purpose, so that is what I do. How do you make a 2:1 syrup?

Watch your chemistry and pharmaceutical calculation class come to life!

Remember (or learn for the first time) a gallon of water weighs about 8.3 lbs. So a perfect 1:1 gallon of syrup, add 8.3 lbs of white granulated sugar to a gallon of water. Brown sugar is not the same and organic sugar would be mighty expensive and debatable if really worth it. For a 2:1 syrup add 16.6 lbs of sugar to a gallon. You can also just grab a cup, bowl, milk jug, bucket, empty soda can or what every vessel you like to use as your “measuring cup” and just use it as your ratio unit. 1 “cup” sugar to 1 “cup” of water and so on.

There are lots of feeders out there; I use a frame feeder in the Langstroth’s and a Boardman feeder on the top bar. I have also tried the baggie feeder method described here, but not yet this year. You can also feed them dry sugar or fondant. I don’t have experience with this yet either…. Maybe this year. I just worry about the moisture in our air out here making a soggy winter mess…. In my frame feeder, I added some black plastic mesh so the bees could “walk” down it to drink; otherwise it is just a big pool to drown in. Not sure why it doesn’t come with it. The mesh is just “Gutter Guard”, conveniently already the right width.

This year I also had some remaining frames with honey and pollen in them from last year’s colonies. I put these into the hives to help the bees get started. Yes, I suppose I could be infecting them with whatever killed my hives this winter. BUT I really just think they either wore out or froze. There wasn’t evidence of dysentery, mites etc…. Some of the frames had some fluffy green mold but no worries, as it is likely Penicillium waksmanii and the bees will clean it off, good as new. The mold didn’t kill the bees, it came after they were gone and moisture increased. I am sticking to this.

Here is the picture play by play. A few last helpful hits: big buckets from restaurants, clip on spoon holder, ladle and cute vintage kitchen scale.

  1. Weigh out the amount of sugar you need. I measured out 16.6 lbs. Took two 8.3 batches, since by mixing bowl wouldn’t hold the whole amount. Don’t forget to tare your scale. (ooo, chemistry class in action!)

  1. Measure out the hot to warm water into a big bucket. It needs to be hot to help dissolve into solution.

  1. If you want, add a drop or two or three of lemongrass essential oil. It is supposed to be attractive to the bees and smell like a pheromone they emit from the nasanov gland. It is also quite pleasing to the human nose.

  1. Stir, stir, stir. Take a break and let it sit. Then stir some more.

A couple great bee sites and references:

Backyard Beekeeper by Kim Flottom

The Practical Beekeeper by Michael Bush

Also, find yourself a nice old vintage bee keeping book, just for fun and perspective. I love my A to Z of Bee Culture from the 60s.

When life hands you lemons ….


Scour Pinterest for Lemon Curd recipes, of course!

Every one of us who are out there busy living, learning and challenging, will find ourselves at one point with one, two or a tree full of lemons – hopefully, delightful Meyer lemons, but usually just the yellow ellipsoidal kind.

There are lots of lemon recipes out there for cleaning, healing but mostly consuming….
Lemon, *Ade (including the classic Arnold Palmer or cowboy punch), *Drops (spirited and hard candy), *Butter, *Cheesecake, *Sorbet, * Poppy Seed Cake, *Curd, *Meringue, *Pepper, *Lavender shortbread, *Bars, *Cookies, *Tarts, *Trifle, Lulu*, *Pie, *Cupcakes, *Tarts, *Pudding, *Pound cake, *Syrup, *Marmalade, *Granita, Preserved*, *Cello, Candied*, *Rind, *Currant Scones, *Macaroons, *Scampi, *Gumbo (just kidding, checkin’ if you are still reading)

But I love love love lemon-y desserts, and today, with my particular serving of life lemons, I needed something more challenging than lemonade, but simple enough to let the lemons shine for what they are: Tart, palette cleansing and all-round citrusy. Hence, I opted to try my hand at curd. It’s been on my list and a great way to use our fresh eggs and use the overnight chill time, to do some of my own processing and chilling.

I settled for a blend of a few recipes set to my taste. Inspiration from and – Thank you!


  • 6 egg yolks (Thank you, as always, to my trusty backyard layers!)
    • Don’t toss the whites! See my remedy for extra egg whites (macaroons)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 Meyer lemons, zested then sliced in half to be juiced (just trust me on the order)
    • Goal: a haystack of zest and generous ½ cup of juice
    • Make sure to strain it, to ensure you get all the seeds
  • 1 stick of butter, cut into chunks, don’t be shy


  1. In a small sauce pan over low to medium heat, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar.  I put the sugar in first then added yolks on top
  2. Add the lemon juice and switch to stirring with a wooden spoon, so as not to whisk air into the curd. At this point, I highly recommend getting your husband, who is likely watching golf on the sofa to come and stir continually for 10-15 minutes
  3. Be sure to adjust the heat as so that it does not boil. The goal is NOT to scramble you eggs
  4. The curd is done when it has thickened and coats the back of the spoon. Run your finger across the back of the spoon, horizontally, lick it and then also see if the curd runs down or the line stays visible
  5. Drop in the butter chunks and stir until melted
  6. Position a fine mesh sieve or strainer over a bowl and pour the curd through it, to remove any bits of cooked egg
  7. Whisk in the zest
  8. Pour the curd (a single batch will make about one pint of curd) into your prepared jars,
    • If you plan on canning, recommends the following: leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Process them in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes It is best to process only in half-pint jars or smaller, as they allow better heat infiltration.  While shelf-stable, these won’t last as long as say my blackberry jam ….
    • I didn’t end up canning this, I am pretty confident it is not going to last very long
  9. Eat on scones, stirred into yogurt (here is an easy recipe for making your own) or shovel straight from the jar with a spoon

Here are the results –

Am I in a better way? This recipe wasn’t as complicated as others have implied. I am headed in the right direction with my life lemons, just going to take maybe a little more sugar and time, to make something great.

What is your favorite lemon curd recipe and memory?

What do you do when life hands you lemons?