Spiced Nut Snack Mix

October 3, 2011 § 1 Comment

Below my feet, the yellowed leaves crunch, and the air is crisp, fresh, reminding me of that scent one gets standing on top of a tall mountain. The heavy last summer heat has slowly melded into fall. I was writing a short story the other day for my fiction writing course this term, the first work of fiction I have started in a very long time, when I realized just how much timing and setting changes a series of events. I was piecing together a character out of bits and pieces of interactions I had had with various people in the past year; it felt more natural to pull from memory. There was something terrifying about the thought of people reading my fictional story, even though I lay a lot of things out to complete strangers on this blog weekly. There is still a knot in my stomach when I think about going over the story in workshop tomorrow afternoon, in a room high up on the 6th floor with glass walls, allowing you to look out over the entire campus when you’re supposed to be paying attention in class. The mind wanders — perhaps that is expected in a creative writing class.

We’ve been talking a lot about loneliness in class, how it is easier to feel sympathy for a schoolteacher in Russia, taking a trip through the mud in a cart and longing for her superior to notice her, than it is to feel sympathy for the 30something divorcee who muddles about at home, unknowingly in love with her best friend who is busy chasing after young actresses. We’ve also been talking a lot about vapidity, superficiality and, on the flip side of things, interiority. It kind of makes me wonder if people are as generally unhappy as they are made out to be in novels. And then I think about the very little things that make me happy and I think that it cannot be possible that everyone is drying up out of loneliness inside, maybe just the writers of the world.

Note: As it turns out, I needn’t have worried so much about the story. We made black tea and the professor brought in a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts from the train station. And then we sat around and talked writing styles and the necessity of placing yourself firmly in time, all the while looking out of the window, feeling on top of the world.

Spiced Nut Snack Mix
Adapted from David Lebovitz
This recipe is infinitely adaptable. I tried this version with pistachios and broken pieces of waffle cone, but you can literally throw almost anything in the bowl and it will come out delicious. I served the mix as a topping for homemade chocolate and hazelnut ice cream.

2 cups mixed raw nuts (I used a combination of cashews, almonds and pistachios)
1 tablespoon (15 g) butter, salted or unsalted, browned
3 tablespoons (45 g) dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon fleur de sel
2 cups (100 g) small pretzel twists (for a saltier mix) or butter cookies, broken into small pieces (for a richer mix)

Spread out the nuts on a baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F, flipping once. In a mixing bowl, stir together the browned, melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, chili pepper and maple syrup. Once the nuts are toasted, add them to the liquid sugar mixture and stir until they are completely coated. Stir in the salt. Then mix in the cookie pieces or pretzels. Spread the nut mixture back on the baking sheet and roast for 12-18 minutes, flipping or shaking every couple of minutes to ensure even toasting and that the sugar is not clumping. Remove the tray from the oven and let cool completely.

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