A chestnut tree is both a blessing and a curse.
At the moment ours is looking spectacular, heavy with green spiky chestnuts in its branches. They are about a month away from falling, so we get to enjoy the look for a while.
The times this tree is a curse? When it is in flower it lets off quite a pungent smell, Luckily this doesn't last long.
Or when its spiky balls of pain turn our front yard into a mine field. During this time there are is a prickle in the foot once day or so. Depending on who it is and on the time of day you get reactions from toughness to tears. Wailing drama sometimes, if Circe is feeling small. "Please help me!", or "You have to carry me, spiky bombs are going to get me!", and "You can't leave me behind!".
Pain and endless sweeping path aside, nothing beats collecting the actual chestnuts. Getting them down with the rake, whacking the big bursting-at-the-seams chestnut with a broom to get the nut out. Over a few week I collect at least three kilos from our tree.
Once I've got enough to make a batch I process a big lot at once. I
split the shell without stabbing myself, boil them, peel them, and blitz
them to make chestnut meal.
This year I ended up with three one-kilo batches and kept them in my freezer.
I pulled out a ziplock bag today and made this sweet chestnut cake from CSIRO's Food intolerance Management Plan book.
It's quite good in that it gives some details on the science, I really like this book. But the picture did not appeal to me.
The edges looked leathery, common with gluten free recipes, and reminded me unpleasantly of the banana bread I'd tried the week before. I didn't like it, the kids refused it in their lunches. Normally it'd all still go, disappearing from the tin late at night, but it was so tough on the outside that even Aaron wouldn't it eat.
Later I heard that the chickens wouldn't even it eat.
But once I got started, I was thrilled by this recipe, really thrilled. It took a lot of eggs, but by gosh I've got a lot of eggs since all the chickens are laying. (Sometimes it seems like they lay twice a day and I'm loving it. Eliza will eat scrambled eggs for breakfast.)
Everything had such beautiful textures and colours, I kept wanting to touch the batter.
And making up the recipie to suit me felt good, empowering. I just loved the fact that I could do that, It felt really good making this cake.
I replaced the chestnut flour with my chestnut meal, and the rice flour and cornflour with a gluten free plain flour that I am really happy with. The cake was light moist and just gorgeous dusted with icing sugar. It had a real Italian cake flavour to me, I wanted to bring a piece to my Mum it was so good.
Blessing I think, in the final accounting.
And thank all of you for the messages of support for Circe. She is getting stronger with almost every day, she is gaining weight and feeling much better. I cannot believe how frail and sick she was only five weeks ago. I keep squeezing the little plump legs she's getting and looking at her filled out cheeks. That's a blessing, too.