Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Black Walnut Bread Pan Miracle

      Sometimes you have to wait a very long time to get answers on things. I was always slightly jealous of people who talked about receiving 'signs' from God.  It seemed it was a very rare thing in my life for there to be any kind of signal from the Lord, even when I prayed hard for one.
      I am well aware of my lack of patience, it is a virtue I highly praise and highly wish for more of. So I guess it makes sense that our wonderful God is teaching me in little bits and pieces about how to be patient especially when it came to signs.
      So my story is this; about a year ago, I got to cleaning one of the cabinets in my kitchen, the one that has the overflow of plastic and paper bags, the dog's treats, extra baking pans and cooling racks and casserole dishes.  I am not an overly neat and organized person so this cabinet is more a disorganized catch-all than a helpful storage area.    I marked two trash bags with 'Pitch', and 'Don't Pitch'.
   First to come out of the cabinet were 100 aluminum personal size bread pans my youngest daughter had baked bread in for her teachers when she was a senior in high school; five years ago. They hadn't been used since and I didn't plan on doing that much baking for at least another five years. They got pitched. I grabbed two dark looking objects that were slightly greasy to the touch. Ah, Grandma Long's bread pans.  My husband's grandmother had been an awesome cook and baker. She worked at restaurants and made meals for other people in her home. She had left those bread pans to my husband because he shared her love of baking.  Those definitely belonged in the "No Pitch" bag.  Finally I could see light and the cabinet was cleaned up. The Pitch bag went outside to the trash and the 'Don't Pitch' downstairs to be stored.
     Several weeks later, my hubs was in a bread baking mood, he began looking for the heavy bread pans but could not find them in the cabinet. I also looked but could not find them.
     "No worries, they are in the "don't pitch" bag downstairs!" I said, feeling very bad I hadn't kept them in the cabinet.  I searched the bag and found the 100 aluminum pans but his special pans were not there. My heart fell to my stomach as I realized I must put the wrong bag in the trash, weeks ago.  I could not apologize enough and felt horrible. I bought him new pans but as all bakers know, new pans are not the same as well seasoned ones, especially ones your grandmother passes down to you.
     He used these without complaint and the bread he made was good, as always, but I still felt bad to have disposed of something of his so valuable in sentiment, if not in good baking.
     Several months went by and on a bike ride along a trail we frequent, we found walnuts lying on the ground. Not only were they just walnuts, they were black walnuts, a highly tasty treat for baking!
     When I was young, my dad would receive a burlap sack full of black walnuts from my grandparents' farm. They fell from a tree near the gravel driveway. My grandpa run over them with the car and the tractor to work the green hulls off of them. Then he would pick them up, bag them and send them along with us when we would visit them at Christmas.  Then each January while watching football games, my dad would go out in the garage, crack open the nuts and bring them inside to a table in front of his chair where he would pick out the fragrant meat inside.  My mom would then bake them into chocolate chip cookies and I would put them in fudge. Wow, it was heaven!  For several years my grandparents collected the walnuts and dad would pick them.  Then my grandpa died, and grandma sold the farm and moved into town. No more black walnuts.
     So when I discovered these black walnuts along the trail I shrieked as if we had discovered gold! We went back home and grabbed some bags and picked them up off the ground and brought them home.  Now black walnuts are covered in a green hull and if you break it open when they just come off the tree your hands are covered in a black walnut stain that forever marks you!  So they must be dried out over several months then the covering peeled off.  You must use a hammer to crack them open because the shell is that hard. Even then you never get a whole nut, it comes out with a nut pick in small pieces. But the taste is awesome.
     Last weekend I got out my hammer and began cracking. Immediately the sight and smell of those walnuts took me back to watching Dad coax the meat out of those gnarly black shells. I took them inside the house and began looking for the nut cracker and pick I remember my mom giving me after Dad died. I knew I had seen them last when I was cleaning that cabinet.  I got down on my hands and knees and reached into the organized cabinet and felt something greasy and rectangular.  I pulled out the well seasoned bread pans that belonged to my husband's grandmother.
  What?  How in the world did they get in there?  I stood there holding the bowl of black walnuts and the pans incredulous. I had searched and searched that cabinet for those pans!  How did they just now appear?  Just then I thought of Dad and big fat tears fell down my face, thank you, Dad!

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