Friday, December 12, 2008


So do you say "pee-cans," or "puh-cahns?"  I say delicious about my favorite nut.  
We're having a bumper crop of pecans in NC this year.  I'm told that happens about every other year.
Pecans are always in my kitchen during the holidays.  I love to simply toast a batch to add to salads, esp. with goat cheese.  Or, toast with some hot sauce, for an easy and quick appetizer that goes well with cocktails.  See recipe below.

This year, my brother-in-law gave me an early gift.....a chest full of pecan halves, cleaned, hulled, shelled, picked over and through.   That, my friends, is quite a labor of love.  
When Dan was still woo-ing my sister Amy, and therefore her family, he gave us several large bags of pecan halves, shelled and ready to go.  I'd pull them from the freezer for a quick pie that winter.  Loved it.  The next winter, after they married and the woo-ing was over, he brought us a huge box of pecans......cracked, but still in their shells for us to do the picking.   Well, it took several evenings for both the hubby and I to sift through that box of nuts.  Not that I'm ungrateful, for that was still a huge gift.  But now, we very much appreciate the effort it takes to get the nuts shelled and cleaned!  I don't know what I did this year to get back into his favor!
Dan spreads a huge plastic sheet under his trees, then "bumps" each tree with the backhoe on his tractor to shake the nuts down. Then he just has to dump the nuts from the sheet into boxes.  Some of his hired help have a pecan cracking machine, which gently opens up the nuts.  From that point, someone has to sit in front of the TV several evenings, with the box and plastic bags.  As I said, it's a labor of love.  I'd better stay in Dan's good favor, huh?
Pecans are native to LA and Texas, and have been a Southern staple since the get-go.  Pecan tassies, nougat, pie, ice a favorite?

3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco or Texas Pete sauce (optional)
1 teaspoon seasoned salt and pepper
2 1/2 cups pecan halves

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.  Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add seasoned salt and pepper, and Tabasco or Texas Pete sauce if desired.
3.  Remove pan from heat, and add pecans, stirring until well coated.  Spread pecans in a shallow baking pan and bake until toasted, 8 to 10 minutes.
4.  Cool completely before storing.

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