Treehousehold series

Here’s a new Valentines tradition for you lovers looking to try something beyond the old dozen roses: place two acorns in a bowl of water and watch to see if they move together or swim apart. If they meet in the middle, your love will be a “Great oak from which little acorns grow,” and if they separate, well, then…you’ll find below some more reliable uses for these nuts! The ancient Brits believed that a woman carrying an acorn would magically prevent aging by mirroring the resilience of the mighty oak. We here in the modern design world seem to believe that our acorns should be kept warm with the rest of us, via the “Acorn Cozy” featured below.

Wool Felted Acorn Ornaments by Angel Dog Designs | Acorn Hanger by Cattails | Acorn Wallflower by Bath and Body Works | Acorn Cozy by Jane Gotts

The squirrel’s teacup, the chipmunk’s cap, the ecochic lady’s locket…is now a sustainable book cover too! I scavenged dozens of acorns from a white oak tree and gave them a life very different from their previous fate of life inside a squirrel’s stash. These 480 “oak-horns” (!) form a blend of organic flora and rugged geometry to create wall art, a pinprickly hand rest, or an extra special book cover for a book yet to be written, as seen here.

To make your own, simply use a sturdy cardboard backing and heavy duty hot glue. Try to gather all your acorns from one tree to get the most uniform size, and then go nuts!

The nut of the oak tree is not just a treat for the squirrels. Acorn flour makes an excellent nut powder high in vitamins A and C and calcium, rich in fiber, and low in gluten. It’s hard to believe that by strolling through the fall leaves we are possibly treading on hundreds of these “ideal foods”, so termed by health junkies. They do hold bitter tannic acid, a kidney-hating particle that should be extracted out before you put that acorn anywhere near your mouth. Once the tannic acid is leached out via a several day process of crushing the acorns and rinsing the nuts in cold water, the resulting mush can be ground into acorn flour which makes a perfectly woodsy pancake, cookie, or bread with a fresh air taste. Just like eating outdoors, but without the frostbite!

For the ambitious, an entire meal can be constructed as an ode to the acorn. And it would be no small affair! On the menu we have: acorn burgers, acorn chili, acorn loaf, acorn jelly (dotorimuk) acorn cookies (and acorn molasses pancakes for breakfast the next day). Bonus points if you eat using reusable cloth napkins dyed with acorn powder that produces rich browns, tans, and blues (see The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes)!  This small nut is a robust substitute for starchy, earthy, and nutrient-rich ingredients such as beans, potatoes, oats, and high-fiber grains. Although acorns are not a staple of our modern diet, in the ancient world they were a common food, used in Korean noodle dishes, Greek mushes and salads, and German coffee.

To the indigenous peoples of America, acorns were traditionally a sacred food that symbolized a thriving harvest and communal well-being. Naturally, there is a native song to go along with this prized sentiment towards the acorn:

“And you women, strike out, gather wild onions, wild potatoes! Gather all you can! Gather all you can! Pound acorns, pound acorns, pound acorns! Cook, Cook! Make some bread, make some bread! So we can eat, so we can eat, so we can eat… Make acorn soup so that the people will eat it!… Don’t talk about starvation, because we never have much! Eat acorns! There is nothing to it.”

– Song of Chief Yanapayak, Miwok, from “The Way We Lived,” edited by Malcolm Margolin, copyright 1981

To revive this old-worldy ingredient in the spirit of food gone wild, I hunted down a sack of acorn powder in a Korean market and set to acorn cake making. No acorns were pounded in the making of these cakes, but there was still a certain nutty satisfaction from baking with something that you find stuck in your shoe when taking a walk. I adapted this recipe to create a new spin on the acorn cake, and now {Tree}Household would like to present a bountiful harvest turned edible:

Acorn Molasses Cakes

1/2 cup acorn flour

1/2 cup cashews, chopped

1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped

1/2 cup raisins or dates

1 cup cooked brown rice

molasses to taste

agave to taste

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ginger

pinch brown sugar or sucanat

Mix all ingredients together in large mixing bowl. Add enough molasses/honey so that concoction clumps together nicely without falling apart. Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a thin spread of butter, and ball the mixture together into small-ish round cakes. Sprinkle the tops with brown sugar or sucanat. Bake at 325 for 10-15 minutes.

High in fiber, rich in protein, dense, intense and filling, these cakes are best eaten like energy bars as the acorn nutrients will keep you going for hours of power!

From {Tree}Household, a nutty Holiday to everyone! Now go outdoors!

About the contributor:

Heather Buzzard is a freshly hatched graduate of Emory University, where she studied creative writing, sociology, religion and environmental science. Her time is spent frolicking as a musician in two Atlanta bands, dressing up for silly photoshoots, inventing recipes, and drooling happily over her Indie Fixx work.

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