Nuts. That’s what I was thinking about last night as I lay with my son in his darkened room, waiting for sleep to overtake him. Specifically, spiced nuts, and how I’d never made them, and what was I waiting for? The mind-chatter went something like this: “What was that recipe I came across recently? Nuts from some restaurant in New York. Times Square nuts? Union Station nuts? There was rosemary involved, I remember that much. Google. I need Google. But first I need to be still for a few more minutes. Just be still. Breathe. He’s falling asleep. He’s close.”
I lie down with our five-year-old every night. It’s sometimes a challenge. Stillness doesn’t come naturally to me. It’s very dark in his room. We squeeze into his twin bed. Above us the ceiling sports glow-in-the-dark star stickers and seven plastic planets dangling from thumbtacks and fishing line. (Some planets have fallen. Jupiter glows under the bed. Mars is downstairs somewhere. Pluto holds fast, though I’m told it’s been downgraded from planetary status.)
We listen to Gregorian chants. (Strange, I know. But it’s been his bedtime music pick since he was old enough to say “monks.”) The music is unearthly and hypnotic. My squirmy, chatty boy grows quiet, and increasingly still. My ceaseless mind-chatter also slows, and sometimes even stops. In time we breathe in gentle unison, holding hands, my cheek to his forehead. I lie still for a while after he drifts off. I have the sensation of floating in timeless darkness, buoyed by my child’s warmth, and the swell and ebb of the monks’ sublime harmonies. It’s pure. And fleeting.
If I were a yogi, or even just a calmer person, I imagine I would abide in that perfect moment for a good long while each night. But my mind is an unruly jungle, and it doesn’t take long for the tendrils of a thousand distractions to start tugging at my attention. (The dinner dishes aren’t finished. The dog needs a walk. I brought some work home. I should write a blog post. A glass of wine and a TV show would be nice, etc.) And so it went last night. Within minutes of my nightly moment of profound peace, my monkey-mind and I popped up and googled “spiced nuts with rosemary.”
The recipe comes from the Union Square Café in New York. I found them too salty for my money, so the recipe below reflects my personal preference for less salt and more heat. The fragrance of the rosemary makes these a standout. That, and the whole hot/sweet/salt/fat thing, which can’t be beat. Oh, and the unfussiness factor is high, which is another plus. You can make these in under fifteen minutes, start to finish. I recommend making them for parties or gifts, unless you want to consume five thousand calories all by yourself. Go ahead and print off copies of the recipe, because everyone will want it.
1 pound unsalted nuts (I used hazelnuts, pecans, and almonds.)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
3/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spread nuts on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake for 8-10 minutes, until nuts are starting to brown.
Mix warm nuts with all the other ingredients and stir.