I spend a lot of time hanging around outside these days, looking for entertainment while my daughter plays. Last year, I discovered a cache of black walnuts near Fremont Park and gathered them up in a sand bucket.
This year, I found another mother lode at the Belle Cooledge Library playground. I squirrelishly stashed them in a bag and brought them home to crack. The thing about black walnuts is that they are tough nuts. You really have to get out the hammer and pliers to get to the sweet, distinctively flavored nutmeats. It makes you respect the strength of squirrel jaws!
Once I get them all hulled, though, I have plans for black-walnut fudge and maybe a quick bread with apples. The Melting Pot (814 15th Street) has been serving a raspberry-black-walnut vinaigrette with a green salad and Gorgonzola. Tossed with some tomatoes and additional walnuts, it sounds like a crunchy seasonal masterpiece.