I burned my nuts this past Saturday. In fact, I burned them twice. Quite badly. And the entire episode was a lesson on what can happen when you fail to use equipment that is intended to help prevent such incidents. 

As some of you may no doubt remember, I recently wrote about my new venture in poolside Basil farming. It is an effort to eat fresh food while saving money, and boy, has it paid off. I’ve been able to make several batches of fresh pesto, using a recipe that calls for 4 cups of fresh basil, lightly toasted pine nuts, olive oil, and parmesan cheese. So far, I can calculate the cost of our home farming operation against production output to determine our savings. By my estimates, the cost of each batch of fresh pesto has been $96.98, or just $19.40 per ounce. Man, are we saving money, or what?

Anyway, this past Saturday it fell to my husbandly duties to whip up a batch of pesto while my wife was at the gym. As part of this process, the aforementioned pine nuts are to be, by recipe instructions, “lightly toasted.” That is where I ran into trouble when I badly burned my nuts.

It has just been brought to my attention that some of you out there were under the impression that I would be discussing a completely different topic. I can only say that I am shocked at the notion. If your mind took you to some unsavory locale, that is on you. I would suggest you consider therapy.

Now, where was I? Oh, yes. Toasting my nuts beyond recognition. 

As I was prepping the freshly harvested basil, I measured out 3 tablespoons of pine nuts and placed them in the toaster oven for the requisite “light toasting.” Being the busy person that I am, I neglected to check on them for a few minutes, and when I did look in on them, discovered that the toasting had zoomed past “light” and was very much working on the “heavy” category. I turned the toaster off, but in what would prove to be a mistake, left the nuts in the toaster as I finished the other prep.

Here is the thing about toasters and nuts. Toasters apparently stay hot even after being turned off, and when you leave your nuts in them too long, they continue to get toasted, even without the miracle of electricity. When I returned to gather the pine nuts, I found crispy little black pellets where my nuts once proudly rested. Dismayed at the waste caused by my error, I scrapped that batch and repeated the process. And when I say repeated the process, I really mean repeated the process. Nuts in the toaster, distracted by other duties, finding heavily toasted nuts upon my return. This time, however, I did not leave them in the toaster and proceeded to add the heavily browned nuts to the other ingredients patiently waiting in the food processor.

I had no choice but to use this last batch, as they were the last I had on hand. I simply ran out of nuts.

I decided to market this batch to my wife as a “Smokey Pesto,” hoping the ruse would cover this glaring failure. It didn’t work. In fact, my wife, who is the designated EHS Specialist in the household, immediately began an investigation into the accident. It didn’t take her long to hit on a key error in my process. “Did you use a timer?”, she asked. I declined to answer the question on the advice of counsel. Instead, I opted for dumbfounded silence, desperately trying to figure out how to extricate myself from the discussion. Sensing I needed further prompting, she proceeded to explain what a timer is and how it could have helped me keep better track of my nuts as they toasted.

I learned during the experience that there is a difference between toasting your nuts and having them roasted. I won’t explain further, as your previously noted unsavory thoughts probably mean you are on the right track and understand the difference.

Now, this is the point where I whip out my trusty rubber mallet and pound this story into something that supports a positive narrative for the workers’ compensation community. And that narrative is this; the existence of equipment designed to improve safety and productivity is useless if not used as intended. All too often workplace accidents that result in serious injury are the result of ignoring or misusing equipment on the job. Even where physical injuries do not occur it is an important standard to maintain. The cost of waste and lost productivity alone should be enough for employers to create a culture of awareness on the issue.

I should have used a timer. After all, pine nuts aren’t cheap, and when you are as Scottish as I am, burning your nuts can hurt in more ways than one.

3 Replies to “Burning My Nuts”

  1. Bob, you had me in stitches laughing. Keep up the great writing and sence of humor!

    oh Geeze…is the correct sence? ! bahahaha
    A fan~

  2. Maybe you should have called that flavor “Burnt Nuts Pesto” for the sympathy your wife would give you.
    Just saying.

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