By Melody Brunson
WASHINGTON — It’s that time of year again — when my Dad begins his never-ending journeys back to his homeplace to pick up pecans off the ground. He likes to pick up on sunny, warm days, but the weather sometimes isn’t a deterrent for his determined spirit.
The pecan trees still stand strong on the land that belonged to his parents. The homeplace land has many memories for Dad. And just like in the old days, following windy days like we’ve had recently, one can almost not walk without stepping on several of the nuts. Dad likes to pick up in the fall, and then spends a better part of the winter shelling out the fruit. He enjoys sharing the crop with others, and luckily for me, he likes to share with my family.
Thanks to his diligence, we never go without pecans until the next year. I freeze my pecans in either good airtight Ziplocs or in glass jars with lids, and get out of the freezer only the amount needed for recipes.
It seems to be a new trend now that restaurants will often add fruit and nuts for color and flavor in routine salads. I like having pecans available for this, along with of course, baking chocolate chip cookies.
Recently on a lunch date with a friend, I noticed the pecans in my California Cobb salad were slightly sweet with a crunchy outside.
I decided this was something I could try at home if I could only find a recipe. Like many times before, I found what I needed with Google’s help. There I found a recipe for “candied pecans,” and they’ve become a favorite at our house. Not only are they delicious in salads, but for snacking. They can be added to pretzels for sweet, salty snack, or tossed in a salad.
For a tasty spring mix salad, I like to add mandarin oranges, strawberries, or diced pears, along with the candied pecans.
Poppy seed dressing is especially good with this, but restaurants often serve raspberry vinegarette on the side. Any favorite dressing will do the trick.
4 cups pecans
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg white, beat until fluffy
1 tsp. vanilla
Add brown sugar and vanilla to the one beaten egg white. Add pecans and toss until coated. Spread coated pecans thin on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper. Bake at 275 degrees for 15 minutes. Cool. Store in sealed container.