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Nuts for November

November 6, 2015 2 Comments

I had a fire in the wood stove last night, officially welcoming the winter to our house. This week we welcomed the nutcracker and some mixed nuts to the kitchen. I am not sure why I feel so much satisfaction in nut cracking, but I do. It slows down the process and makes me appreciate the taste of my nutty prize when I manage to crack the shell and extract it.  This time of year we start to eat nuts more often because they are featured in seasonal fall dishes as part of a healthy harvest.  Arizona grows wonderful pecans and pistachios, two of my favorite crops. Both are healthy and add rich flavor to all kinds of dishes.

We are big fans of cheese and pear combinations, so this month I will make us a pear pecan roquefort cheesecake.  That has to be a winner with those ingredients.  Brussels sprouts have arrived on the stalk as a favorite vegetable, so  we will try the pistachio cranberry sprouts as a savory treat as well.  Nuts always make appearances in cookies and sweets, but this year I want to try the extravagant pumpkin pecan cobbler.  This will be right up our alley for dessert, and a new way to use both November favorites, pumpkin and pecans.

This weekend we have a neighborhood potluck party.  I plan to take some soup, but this pineapple cream cheese spread covered with pecans is so cute I think I will make one of those for the party too.  It is simple, but looks really festive.

Trader Joe’s brings out small cans of  exotic nut oils this time of year which I enjoy using to add rich flavor to all kinds of dishes.  Using walnut or pistachio oils for roasting vegetables delivers fabulous punch.  Gravy based in nut oil is lovely and mysteriously rich. I still like butter, but like to variations that nut oils can bring to the fall table.  Evidence keeps piling in about the benefits of including nuts in the diet.  While I do believe the research I am nuts for nuts because they taste so great.  Do you have a favorite nut, gentle reader?

fall harvest

fall harvest

 

 

Fall Food Fiesta, Pecans

September 30, 2014 2 Comments

Pecans grow abundantly in Arizona, with large commercial groves to be found both north and south of the city of Tucson.  Green Valley Pecan Company is the largest pecan farm in the world.  I love the organic pecans from our neighbors just 20 minutes south of Tucson.  They sponsor the Sahuarita Pecan Festival to celebrate the harvest and get festive with the local population.  This year the festival will take place Nov. 8, 2014 from 9 am to 5 pm at the farm.  Parking is free until 8:30 am, and $5 per car after that time.  I adore food festivals.  I am a bigger fan of nuts than I am of wine, so this local festival is particularly appealing to me.  I am not waiting to start eating my organic Green Valley pecans.  I have already polished off half of the first bag I purchased eating them straight up. That is honestly my favorite way to have them.  I do cook with them, and when I was in Austin this summer I heard about a pecan syrup being used in bourbon cocktails that intrigued me.  My friend made a wonderful concoction of bitters by using a whole pecan in the shell as one of the local ingredients she was testing.  The flavor of the nut came out nicely in the final product, the shell lending some bitter notes.  My mother used to shell loads of pecans each year and give them to me as a holiday gift.  It was the best thing she gave me, and she kept doing it until she was very old.  She would spend a month or so shelling pecans in the fall for her holiday gifting.  She was from Texas, so I imagine this came from her childhood.  She made a decent pecan pie, but my mother, Ruby, specialized in pralines.  She made no other kind of candy, and it only happened once a year (for the holiday gifts).  She put pecans in her fruitcakes too, but then she ruined them with fruitcake (I was never a fan of this extremely labor intensive preparation).

Here are some savory examples of pecans for fall festivities:

Most of the classic pecan recipes are for sweets:

If you have made the ice cream you can them have a:

What is your favorite way to enjoy pecans, Gentle Reader?

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