Fruit and Nuts

We have eleven pecan trees, so along with the leaves, pecans cover our yard this time of year. We already had about ten pounds collected just from our front yard, so this weekend we took them to the farmer’s market to have them cracked. Even though we still have to separate the shell from the meat, it’s so much faster than doing it all by hand that it is totally worth it. 

Cracked pecans

While we were there, Thadd discovered a big box full of bruised apples for five dollars, so I bought those, too. Thanks to my apple peeler-slicer-corer contraption, I was able to quickly get them ready to freeze for later. Here’s a similar apple peeler to the one I use:

Johnny Apple Peeler by VICTORIO VKP1010, Cast Iron, Suction Base

Some of the apples went straight to the stove with cinnamon and sugar to have as a sweet side and baked oatmeal topping.

Apples!

I’m looking for more recipes to use the apples and pecans that aren’t overly sugary. So far, I’ve found a recipe for apple cider vinegar that makes use of the saved peels. 

In the meantime, I made my favorite pecan dessert that is the opposite of not sugary: pecan pralines. (That’s puh-cahn prah-leans, y’all.) They are dangerously easy, especially when you have a ton of pecans on hand and the rest of the ingredients are kitchen staples. 

Pecan Pralines
Still too hot…

Here’s the recipe I use:

Pecan Pralines

3/4 cup each of brown sugar and granulated sugar

1/2 cup of milk

1 cup of pecans

1 tablespoon of butter

1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Combine the sugars and milk in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook until it reaches the soft ball stage. (That’s when you can put a drop in cold water and it holds together in a ball shape but flattens on your finger when you take it out of the water.) I stir it pretty constantly and check it when it starts to look a little thicker.

Once it is at the soft ball stage, remove it from the heat and stir in the butter, vanilla and pecans until it’s well mixed. Drop the mixture by the spoonful onto waxed paper. If it gets too hard to spoon out, warm it back up for a bit on the stove. It’s best to have the waxed paper ready and work quickly, though. That way you don’t risk burning it and the resulting sadness.  

Resist the temptation to try the yumminess immediately and let it cool. Seriously, let it cool. Hot melty sugar burns! The pralines will be more frosty opaque than glossy and easy to peel off the waxed paper when they are ready. 

I usually get about sixteen pralines from one batch, but it will vary depending on how big you make them.

Enjoy!

Pecans

We have nine or eleven pecan (puh-cahn) trees in our yard. I don’t remember exactly how many and I’m not going to go count at darkish o’clock. Sorry. So far, we’ve harvested over fifty pounds of pecans (puh-cahns). Last time I saw him, Chris was on the roof collecting more. Suffice it to say we have a lot of pecans (puh-cahns).

There are two things I like to make with pecans (puh-cahns). They are pecan (puh-cahn) pies and pecan (puh-cahn) pralines (praw-leans).

My recipe for Pecan (you get the idea) Pies: Buy a bottle of Karo Syrup. Read the recipe off the back of the bottle. Special tips: 1. Make sure your pie crust AND pie pan are of the appropriate size. 2.Definitely set the pie on a cookie sheet to bake in case you failed at number 1.

I also threw a handful of chocolate chips in the pie that’s baking as I type. I’m hoping it’s yummy bites of chocolaty goodness and not a really BAD IDEA.

My praline recipe is from my box of family recipes. It’s titled “Uncle Vince’s Pecan Pralines”. I think that has more to do with my uncle’s fondness for Auntie Sally’s pralines than his contribution to the recipe. For it you need:
3/4 cup of brown sugar
3/4 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of milk
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup of pecans

Bring milk and sugar to a boil. Lower heat and cook until it forms a soft ball in cold water. Add butter, vanilla and pecans and beat with a wooden spoon until creamy. Stop when ripples form at the edge. Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper. If mixture hardens, set the pan in hot water or put back on low heat for a few seconds. Wait until they cool before tasting. Trust me.

If you’ve never made any sort of candy before, the praline recipe might sound hard. It’s really simple, especially once you’ve worked through it once.