I was delighted when reading a New York Times article that I am in tune with Barack Obama’s ‘almond’ habit, which he eats to help him concentrate when working late at night. As a child I was brought up on five meals a day: breakfast; elevenses; lunch; teatime; and supper. At my grandfather’s home in Guernsey, the latter two meals merged into high tea, which was always a plate of greenhouse tomatoes, home-cured ham, a leaf or two of iceberg lettuce served with a dollop of salad cream, all followed by a slice of heavily buttered ‘Guernsey Gâche’. That’s Guernsey patois and it’s pronounced as “Gosh”.
In my early working life, although I never forgot to have breakfast, lunch was often ignored for the reasons of time and money. To keep me going through the afternoon there was a large square of cold spiced bread and butter pudding from the tea trolley. Later when the gossip of an overalled tea lady was replaced by snack machines, a nutty caramel bar covered in chocolate took its place.
Considerably food wiser in my late thirties, I started ‘snacking’ on nuts to get me through intense periods of work. I do find almonds the most satisfying of snacks and, like Barack, strongly recommend them but I think it’s doubtful that like him, I would have the discipline to stop at seven.
Oven Roasted Almonds – Preparation time 18 minutes
300 grams of raw almonds
large knob of butter
2 teaspoons of salt
2 teaspoons of flavouring of your choice, garlic powder, chilli, smoked paprika etc.
Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.
Spread the nuts on a baking tray, shake to even out and then put in the oven, on the top shelf for 15 mins.
In a bowl big enough to take all the nuts, put the butter, salt and your flavouring of choice. Worry about too little rather than too much. Add the nuts hot from the oven and toss until coated. Tip the nuts back onto the tray, shake again and put in the oven for another two minutes to dry the buttery spices onto them.
Cool on a sheet of kitchen towel and then store in an airtight container. I often mix these with a few ‘Lexia’ raisins, which are much juicer, stickier version than the standard supermarket offering. Health food shops normally stock them. You try and stop at seven!