Monday, December 2
Deirdre came up to see us this morning, full of excitement, and announced that there are sweet chestnuts for the taking in the grounds of the big house along the lane. The house is owned by a big company and is only used for corporate functions and international visitors, but no one has been there for some time. The caretaker has told Deirdre we can all take as many chestnuts as we like, before the squirrels and other wild animals finish them off, so I set off with the girls immediately.
There was such a heavy crop we quickly filled our basket with the shiny nuts, most of which had split from their spiny casings. After a bit I left the girls to carry on sifting through the leaves and spines so I could get back and check the fires and heat our soup.
When they came back they said they will have to go again tomorrow, as there is so much to find. The chestnut trees grow all along the drive and have cropped well this year, like the oak trees with their acorns.
We shall have to think how best to use this windfall as it could be useful for our Saturday bartering. I voted for chestnut flour, but the girls are less keen as they are getting tired of grinding the acorns. We’ll start by blanching the nuts with boiling water, then we can peel them once they are cool enough to handle. I might start with a chestnut soup which is very simple to make with stock and onion. I don’t think we’ll bother with marron glaces as none of us are keen on them, but we might roast a few in a pan over the fire tonight after we’ve had our beef stew and dumplings. We all agreed Anna should open the first drawer in the Advent calendar last night, as she is missing her family.
Two more eggs today.