February 05, 2012

Cashew Butter

It's something about these days. There was a Carrot Cake Day, and it was delicious. Sweet and moist, with a perfect layer of indulgent whiteness, but ended very quickly, though. Too quickly. And now, checking my calendar, noting all the musts, squeezing a few maybes in between and highlighting some tightly into the anticipation wrapped future plans I noticed that today is the Bread Day.

cashew butter

It's a traditional liturgical Lithuanian celebration, also known as St. Agnes Day, which origins might be found in the very old pagan times. Agnes was a Roman girl, who strongly and genuinely believed in God and due to that was tortured and committed to flames. She was raised in a catholic family and from the very first days on this earth she was taught to love and praise the God. Her love was very great and mighty. She hated sin even more than death, therefore she made a promise never to stain her purity. But there was a problem - her stunning beauty, which fascinated and attracted a lot of men. Many of them wanted to marry Agnes, but she would always say, Jesus Christ is my only Spouse, putting all of them into the desperation.

It was her perdition. When the Governor's son failed to win her heart with rich gifts and promises, and she kept on saying no to him, full of great anger, frenzied passion and shame of rejection he accused her of being Christian. It was a serious charge at that time, and after long-lasting persuasions, amoral seductions that later grew into violent torture she was condemned to death. A year after, the Etna volcano erupted, and most people held that to be a punishment for Agnes' killing. For this reason, she was made a guardian and protectress of fires.

When Lithuanians, being the last ones in Europe, finally converted into the Christianity, they replaced Gabija, the pagan goddess of fire, with St. Agnes. Throughout the later times, during the first days of February, Lithuanians were always offering the bread to St. Agnes, keeping a piece of it at home as a safeguard against conflagrations.

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In nowadays, on February 5th , bread together with water and salt is consecrated in all Lithuanian churches. Later pieces of this bread is usually divided among family members, placing any left over pieces in honorable spots, most often behind pictures of Saints. However, there is a wide variety of possible use of consecrated bread on St. Agnes' feast day: mothers gave pieces of this bread to sons going off to war, so that they would be protected from bullets; travellers are placing a piece of it in the luggage when preparing to go on a long trip; beekeepers - in beehives to keep bees from dying and stimulate honey production; and finally, pieces of this consecrated bread is placed in the foundations of newly built houses, to protect them from fires.

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I don't remember us doing any of this, but I do remember my grandma bringing some pieces of bread from the church and making us keep it in the right place. It was supposed to be a place with a meaning or with a wish, and I still have couple these tiny crumbles in my upper drawer.

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Anyways, this Bread Day is not about making bread. It's more about believing in it, turning back to the past when it was treasured and honoured. In that case, I am not making any today, but I'd rather share with you a recipe of Cashew Butter, which is a perfect spread for a fresh, rustic and toasted slice of bread.

The usual nut butter is made by grinding the nuts (any kind of them) till you get the paste. If not adding any other flavoring, then that's pretty much of it. This one is different: I ground the cashews till I got the powdery texture and then soaked it in the warm milk for a couple of minutes to get smooth puree. Later on I just whisked it with softened organic butter, and that's how I got nutty and milky butter. I did no use any sweetener, since cashews themselves are mildly sweet, but if you feel like, you can add one or two teaspoons of honey. Besides, when I found myself wanting something sweeter, I just scooped some jam on top of the buttered slice of bread.

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Cashew Butter 

1/3 cup (30 g) of cashews (or any other kind of nuts)
2 Tbsp warm milk
2 Tbsp softened butter

Roast the cashews in the 350 F (180 C) oven for 10 minutes till they are nicely golden. Let them cool and the grind in a food processor till you get the cashew flour. Pour the warm milk over, mix well and leave it to soak for 5 minutes. Whisk with butter. It the mixture is too soft, put it into the refrigerator for couple of minutes.
Spread the toast and enjoy the Sunday breakfast.

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2 comments:

  1. I enjoyed reading your blog...This is a great recipe. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Thanks for stopping by! You're always welcome ;)

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