Writing my artist features – Harlot’s Artists – has exposed something raw in me.

As many people do, I cover up those areas of my life that are wanting with a listless film of routine. It’s often easier to go through the motions of a life you’re already living than it is to question yourself.

Currently, I am writing about Canadian chanteuse, composer, painter, actor, poet and activist, Sarah Slean. It’s a two part piece I’m looking forward to bringing you in the next weeks, but it has me regretting the road not taken.

 

It’s reminded me of a time I lived with great honesty. It was a time fraught with explosive volatility and heartache. I was just twenty and in my first relationship – filled with intense happiness followed by sharp anguish – it was a time I felt truly alive.

I was also truly miserable. Those fits of spontaneity and blindly following whims unanchored can’t be sustained into a responsible adulthood. Growing up is a process that opens wounds which will never heal, yet they are wounds that one day will serve us again.

Artists like Sarah and Hawksley Workman (who has worked with both Sarah and Johnny’s GHT) inspire me because of their staunch defiance to compromise.

These are artists that follow their craft where it takes them, not where they want to take it. That’s much easier said than done – it takes courage to open yourself up with no promise of return.

 

Hawksley’s recent one man show, The God That Comes, was a complex realisation of his talents – sex, violence, innocence, fear, intolerance, love, greed – all heavy subjects for a “pop” musician to tackle, let alone bring to mass audience. The end result was a touching and anarchic piece that crosses theatre, rock, cabaret and house party.

Then there’s Sarah’s most recent outing, her double album Land & Sea. After leaving Warner Music, Sarah set out to write and record this epic undertaking on her own. She composed four original scores for a 21 piece orchestra – not a mainstream project to say the least – and the result was electric.

I don’t have the talent these wonderful creators and performers do, but I can be touched by them and allow their guts to remind me to be honest and true in whatever I pursue.

These souped up nuts were a favourite of Hawksley’s – he named them “crack” nuts for their addictive properties. Like those artist’s music that continue to inspire me, they are sweet, spicy, direct and transcendent.

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SPICY CRACK NUTS

These are inspired by a recipe from Chatelaine magazine for Sweet & Spicy Pecans. They are such a wonderful mix of textures, heat and sweetness – they’re downright addictive – hence: Crack Nuts.

I tweaked their recipe and upped it with some bright coriander and cardamom as well as a few extra warming spices. These are a gorgeous little bite with cocktails or as a hostess gift.

I doubled the original recipe because they disappear so quickly, but you can easily half it.

 

INGREDIENTS

2 egg whites

5 tbsp white sugar

2 tsp each kosher salt, curry powder and cinnamon

1 tsp each cardamom, ground coriander, cayenne and turmeric

6 cups mix of pecan and walnut halves

 

Preheat your oven to 300F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk the egg whites in a bowl until foamy.

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Beat in all your spices until combined.

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Toss in the nuts and stir to coat well.

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Spread the nuts in one layer on your baking sheet and pop in the oven for 15 minutes. Turn the baking sheet 180 degrees and reduce the heat to 250F. Bake another 15 minutes.

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Remove from oven and cool on the pan. Break the nuts apart and store at room temperature in an airtight container up to 1 week.

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I’ll leave you with one more beautiful inspiration:

 

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