A little bit about pistachios

This has been a wonderful and exciting weekend for me. My daughters came in and discussed/worked on the items they will have in their booth at our craft show. They figured out a couple of years ago that since they were here anyway and helping the Auxiliary get their booth set up, they might as well have their own booth, so that’s what they will do. We basically worked at one thing or another the whole weekend, one daughter brought some clothing that she needed altered, another brought handwork, and the other one brought her computer and worked at designs for some of her things. We stayed busy enough that the only time we left the house was to go to lunch at a local restaurant! Even though we were busy, we had a great time just being together and visiting while we worked.
Though it doesn’t seem possible, we are nearly at the end of 2018. As I started writing this column, I had to check to see what date it was for; I was surprised to find that it needed to be dated the 10th of October! Hobby Lobby has had Christmas articles out on display since late August and so far, in looking for terry cloth cup towels that can be used for a couple of crafts in the Auxiliary that are not being displayed at this time. I checked with the manager and she said that they would be in soon, so maybe we will have our kitchen towels again this year, either with crocheted tops or with pot holders, it depends what comes in. We are no longer allowed to make “Gifts in a jar”, or any type of canned foodstuffs, as it is against health regulations. The things have to be prepared in a kitchen that is approved by the Victoria Health Department, and there isn’t one available to us. So, we just look for other handmade/homemade items we can sell. Our embroidered cup towels go over extremely well, as do hand embroidered pillow cases and sometimes aprons. The cup towels are embroidered in Christmas motifs and then embellished with bias tape, rick rack and other things. The aprons haven’t sold too well for the last couple of years, but since their sales have picked up in the gift shop, maybe they’re back in style.
Recently someone asked me “How do pistachios grow”? You wrote about cashews so what about pistachios”? Now, I know a lot of people like to eat pistachios and generally just eat a handful, which, according to the research I’ve done today is nearly the only way to eat them, and they can be purchased either shelled or unshelled. I checked on-line and the recipes I found included goat-cheese/pistachio stuffed eggplant and something else equally unappetizing sounding, but no true recipes using these nuts in cookies or on frosting or in pies. The closest thing that sounded tasty was making a cheese ball or log and rolling it in chopped pistachios rather than in pecans or walnuts. The article showed a picture of baklava, but the recipe that I found used walnuts rather than pistachios and the second one I found used ground almonds. The other recipe is for a cake using pistachio pudding mix as an ingredient, and many of us have grown used to the green salad made with pistachio pudding mix as an ingredient.
According to the information I can find, pistachios grow on trees in clusters like grapes do and are a member of the cashew family. They grow on small trees, which are very slow growing and only start producing at 7-10 years of age with peak production occurring at 20-25 years, according to the California Pistachio Commission. The modern pistachio nut P. vera was first cultivated in Western Asia and over time the cultivation spread into the Mediterranean by way of Iran, where it is an important crop. In recent years, the pistachio has been cultivated in Australia, New Mexico, California and various other states. The tree was introduced into California around 1904, but did not begin to be promoted as a commercial crop until 1929. The pistachio is basically a desert plant and tolerates saline soil well. The trees can withstand temperatures ranging between –10ºC (14ºF) in winter and 40ºC (104ºF) in the summer. Pistachio trees need a sunny location and well-drained soil and do poorly in situations with high humidity. They can get root rot in winter if there is too much water and the soil is not well drained. According to the information I was able to find, California produces approximately 98% of the pistachios in the United States. The remaining two percent is produced in Arizona, New Mexico and west Texas. In 2004, they were the second largest tree nut crop produced in the United States and were worth $438 million, way behind almonds that were worth over $2 billion.
Pistachios have only 158 calories in a one-ounce serving. They are a rich source of protein, dietary fiber, several dietary minerals and the B vitamins. They are also a good source of calcium, riboflavin, fulate and vitamin K. Need more information, as always, put the word “Pistachios” into your search engine and click on Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia and you will find lots of info!
Party Cake
1 box, cake mix, yellow or white
Ingredients to make cake
1 carton whipped topping, thawed (8-oz)
1 package cream cheese (8-oz) at room temperature
1 package instant pistachio pudding mix (small box)
1 cup milk
½ cup shredded coconut
½ cup chopped nuts
1 can (8-oz) crushed pineapple, well drained
Maraschino cherries for garnish
Make and bake according to directions on box. Allow to cool completely. While cake is cooling, beat cream cheese until smooth. Set aside and mix together pudding mix and milk. Stir this mixture into the cream cheese until well blended, fold in thawed whipped topping and spread on cake. Spread the drained pineapple over the frosting, sprinkle with the nuts and coconut, garnish with cherries. Store in the refrigerator to chill before serving.
The following recipe for coconut pie is from my mother, she used the scraps of pie dough and rerolled them to make the crust so sometimes, it was just a small pie, but this recipe will make a 9-in pie, it will not be very full, but that is what makes it good.
Coconut Pie
1 9-in unbaked pie shell
1 cup shredded coconut (pressed down in cup)
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons flour
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla + some cinnamon (a teaspoon, or more if desired)
Mix sugar flour and cinnamon together in a bowl – add milk and vanilla
Spread cocoanut in pie crust and pour milk mixture over the coconut – dot with some butter – Bake at 400º for 15 minutes and then turn down heat to 350º. Bake until firm.
Jo’s Cherry Dessert
1 can lite cherry pie filling
1 can (8-oz) crushed pineapple (drained)
1 can low fat condensed milk
1½ carton (light whipped-topping, preferably Cool-Whip®, thawed)
Mix all together; chill well before serving.
Weight watchers ½ cup = 2 points.
Sopapilla Cheesecake
2 cans crescent rolls
2 (8-oz) cream cheese
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 stick melted butter
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350º. Grease or spray a 9×13-in. pan and roll out 1 package of the crescent rolls on the bottom of the pan, sealing creases. Mix cream cheese, sugar and vanilla and spread over the dough. Roll out the second crescent roll sheet and place on top of the cream cheese mixture. Pour melted butter over the top and sprinkle with the sugar and then the cinnamon, bake for 30 minutes.