In my supermarket, a pack of imported salted nuts can cost a small fortune. Yet the poor things have passed through a factory to be drenched in salt and preservative, stuffed into a stifling little bag and sent across the ocean far far from their mother tree, only to arrive here homesick and tasting of jetlag.
But we have local beer. We need local snacks. What are we to do?
Lucky me, we have an almond tree and we finally picked the last of this year's crop. We collected 7½ kilos, unshelled, from the small neglected tree in our inner suburban backyard. As I was on my hands and knees looking for stray nuts in the undergrowth, I found myself impulsively pressing my hands against the trunk and saying, 'thank you'.
If you don't have an almond tree, plant one.
While you're waiting for your first crop, you can easily find locally grown almonds in organic food shops. They are usually sold shelled but not blanched (ie peeled). However, it doesn't take long to blanch them yourself – and if you have any young children hanging around, their nimble little fingers will make light work of the job.
Once the almonds are blanched, you can make the most local snack of all in less time than it takes to walk to the supermarket.
- 1 cup almonds, shelled
Boil the kettle. Place the almonds in a small bowl, cover with boiling water, and leave to sit for five minutes. Remove a few almonds at a time and pop them out of their skins, then leave on a tea towel to dry.
Heat the oil in a wide skillet. Throw in the almonds and toss and shake the pan to toast them evenly. They are done when they smell good.
Salt and serve, hot, tepid or cold.
The children in our house forbid the cooking of anything spicy, but if you like a little heat, add a crumbled dried chilli to your almonds with the salt.
(Backyard: almonds. Local: olive oil. Murray River: salt.)