Today has been full of surprises. I got home from work today (at 4:00! working from home tomorrow! five days away from the office! but, hey, who’s counting?!) and found a big cardboard box, criss-crossed with packing tape, waiting just inside the front door of our building. My eyebrows, I’m sure, betrayed my confusion—first arching, then furrowing. The return address revealed its sender (my grandparents), but that only stumped me more. It’s my birthday on Friday, but my grandparents sent a gift a couple weeks ago (ever prepared). After huffing-and-puffing my way up the four flights of stairs mulling over the box’s contents, I finally made it into our apartment, sliced through the tape and found big bags of my grandma’s caramel corn and my grandpa’s party mix (homemade Chex mix), both of which are holiday harbingers if ever my family had any. My grandparents, it seems, figured that if I wouldn’t be joining them in Minnesota this Thursday, they’d send a little bit of our traditional Thanksgiving to me here in Chicago.
The package promptly delivered a spring to my step and had me practically sprinting into the kitchen to do the Thanksgiving baking and cooking I had on the agenda for the evening. Elbow deep in flour, the oven throbbing with heat and a couple flames dancing on the range, I began cracking eggs for the chocolate pudding that will fill our Thanksgiving chocolate cream pie. Two egg yolks in, I reached for a third egg, gave it a quick rap on the countertop and split it in half. Inside the shell were two perfect yellow orbs: twin yolks! I breathlessly showed the treasure(s) to Kevin, tweeted about the incident and then got back to the pie at hand.
But the real surprise of the day came earlier this afternoon at work when a funny thought leapt into my head. I had been updating my calendar and something about the date led me to pause. Didn’t I start blogging around this time of year? Sure enough, I checked the archives, and two years ago to the day, this site was born. Two! Years!
The realization stunned me and thrilled me and I felt I couldn’t let it pass without note here on the site itself. The problem was that the only photos I had in the pipeline were the photos for these cashews. Now, I love these cashews. Love. But when’s the last time you celebrated a milestone with, ah, nuts? Even jacketed, as these cashews are, in savory-sweet-spiciness, cocktail nuts seem to fall a little short of the mark for such an occasion.
But, the more I think about it, these cashews are perfect. They’re one of the few recipes that I safely counted as a stand-by before I launched this site. Before I started writing with regularity; before I learned that I can do almost anything in that kitchen of mine (all it takes, it turns out, is a willingness to fail); before I fell in love with the things that I see through the lens of my camera; before my mild distrust for the Internet began to thaw; before I started to try any food, any restaurant, any recipe at least once; before I met most of you, a bunch that is inspirational and encouraging and funny—a bunch that I feel awfully lucky to call my friends. It seems like another life, really: pre-blog. But, when I think hard enough, I can remember it and, I assure you, these nuts were there even back then.
And they’re still here, post-blog (or during-blog?). For years, I have relied on this recipe for nearly every party, turned to it for absolutely every holiday, and, often, let it serve as a small gift, poured into a glassine bag and tied with twine. In other words, these cashews are generally around for the celebrations in my life (as they will be this Thursday, for our Thanksgiving). So I suppose they’re just the thing for today’s occasion. Happy birthday, blog. And thank you, from the depths of me, to all of you for reading.
Rosemary Roasted Cashews
Adapted very slightly from Ina Garten
1 1/4 pounds cashew nuts
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon light or dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon melted butter
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Place the nuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes until they are warmed through. Meanwhile, combine the rosemary, pepper, sugar, salt and butter in a large bowl. Toss the warm nuts with the rosemary mixture until the nuts are completely coated. Serve warm. (If you make the nuts ahead of time, you can simply rewarm them briefly in a hot oven.)