Grain-free Pecan Chestnut Ginger Cookies

Ginger cookies 1

I started with roots this time in the garden.  Flowers,  herbs and roots. 

It’s not like me at all.  I usually like to get a healthy selection of greens going, and drag my feet on the radishes, carrots, beets,  parsnips, and salsify.  They grow slowly and need extra soil amendments, and it usually feels daunting, with mixed returns. 

Ginger root

Not this year.  This year i feel drawn to the roots, the essence of plants. 

I depleted myself this year. First working very hard to prepare for being gone all summer, then traveling on what was certainly not a relaxing vacation, coming home to a nightmarish mess my family saved for me to clean up all by myself, and rushing forward into homeschool and double ballet lessons, football games, the start of another gardening season, and lots and lots of repairs. It’s more than just being tired out. It has taken a serious toll on my health. 

Chestnuts 2

All autumn I have been struggling to make space to rest and repair, feeling rather like I am drowning in a sea of piling-up, never-ending tasks, bearing the terrible burden of making everything work every day, just one person, one set of hands, one pair of legs. 

Chestnuts 1
Photo cred: Adam Scherer

I feel like a weary warrior,  striding always forward, accomplishing things no one else will do, alone holding off the spiral of overwhelm at the gap, quelling with soldier’s fire the consuming anxiety of such a heavy task in front of me, a long road ahead to walk. 

I know it is the fatigue. I usually am enthusiastic about my daily tasks. I love what i do every day.

Chestnuts in husks
Photo cred: Adam Scherer

These days, all i want is to feel rooted – to snug down in a thick blanket of compost and wait for things to change.  I feel empty, having given everything, and now waiting, winter-bound, waiting for something, for whatever golden spark touches each little seed waiting in the dark and silent earth and whispers, “Now grow!”

Pecan sheller
Pecan processing, photo cred: Adam Scherer

I planted 3 kinds of edible ginger this year.  I love the earthy,  spicy smell when the tubers are dug and harvested. Ginger is one of the Good Herbs i have been using to try to recover my health.  It is an old, dragonish plant. It knows about these things – my struggle, the waiting. It survived the Ice Age. I know it understands. 

And the chestnuts and pecans are rich and dense, the dreams of deep-rooted trees. I soaked the pecans in water with a pinch of salt overnight and dried them in the oven.  They lose their taste of tannins and taste buttery and sweet. Not a necessary step, but does improve them.

Photo cred: Adam Scherer

My friend Adam, from Three Rivers Plantation near the Itchnetucknee, grew the pecans and chestnuts in these cookies.  He tends the most beautiful orchard, 20 acres planted with fruit and nut trees. These pecans, which are free from sprays, are sold at Ward’s Grocery in Gainesville. 

The chestnuts we harvested at the orchard in October. This was the first time i had ever made chestnut flour, but it wasn’t difficult. 

Chestnuts 3

First I cut the chestnuts in half with a sharp, sturdy knife.

Chestnuts 4

Then steam them for a few minutes until they pop out of the shells.
Chestnuts 5

I ground the halves briefly in a food processor to get them into smaller crumbles so i could grind them in my grain grinder once they were dry. 
Chestnuts 6

Then I dried them in the oven, with the damper turned off and the door cracked a little. You could dry them in a dehydrator too. One full quart jar of split chestnuts,  peels on,  made 1 1/4 cup chestnut flour. 
Chestnuts 7


1/2 cup coconut sugar or Sucanat

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 egg

2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger

2/3 cup chestnut flour
1 cup pecans, ground into flour in a food processor
1/4 baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1. Cream together the butter and sugar.

2. Beat in the egg and add the fresh grated ginger. 
Ginger cookies 3

3. In a separate bowl,  sift together the chestnut flour, the ground pecans, salt, baking soda, and spices. 

4. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.  Roll the dough into walnut- sized balls and place on a sheet of parchment on a baking sheet. Press down with a fork.  Bake at 350 F for 12-15 minutes,  or until the cookies are just starting to brown. Makes about 20 chewy,  crispy-on-the-outside, spicy cookies. 
Ginger cookies 2
Wishing you a snug and spicy week!

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