The first home I remember was in Bethel, Ohio on Main Street, USA. (sounds like the setting for a play, doesn’t it?) The house had a feature fossil rock wall that was part of my bedroom and a huge, huge pecan tree in the back yard. When my parents bought the house it was a real wreck, a ‘fixer upper’–only worse! Dad remodelled every wall, floor and surface in the house, plus a bit extra. It had a beautiful yard with lilac bushes, mulberry and cherry trees and a little tiny rivulet of water that flowed in wetter years, separating the main yard from the big pecan tree at the back.
In summer, the pecan tree’s generous canopy would shade us from the hot sun. Dad built us a tree house in a nearby smaller tree, too. We spent a lot of time playing under the tree in warmer months and collecting pecans that fell in the autumn. Then in winter Mum would sit most evenings and crack and pick the nuts from their shells. I would help sometimes. Mum discovered that nuts freeze very well and so she would freeze packets of pecans to use year round for her baking; pecan pie, pecan sandies and fruit cake at Christmas. I loved them all. Pecans are still my favourite nut for flavour and versatility. (I have no photos of the tree, and sadly, it was cut down years ago)
We pause our scheduled post for this public service advice:
I think this must have been the beginning of my love affair with trees, nuts and food. I could see, and understand, the connection between them all. To that end, I’m going to share a link with you that is about trees, because I love trees so much. It is a six minute YouTube video by a rap artist I had never heard of before seeing this piece on blog friend Sara‘s post this weekend. I thought I’d pass it along because it is so good.
Back to our regularly scheduled blog post:
TIP: Since I am very familiar with the flavour of fresh pecans, my tip to you is they should taste sweet and nutty, not strong. I’ve noticed if I buy pecans in the winter and store them in my freezer for use in summer they are better than trying to buy them in summer (in Alice), when often they have become rancid through shipping and storage. Double wrapping them for the freezer is best.
This winter I came up with a recipe for gluten free muesli (granola) that uses pecans, cashews and pepitas and I have enjoyed it so much that I thought I’d share the recipe with you.
Nut and Cinnamon Baked Muesli (granola)
1/4 C roughly chopped pecans
1/4 C roughly chopped raw cashews
3-4 tsp Maple syrup
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of fine salt (I use pink salt)
1.5 C puffed millet
Preheat oven to 160C (325F)
Line a rectangle baking tray with silicon paper (don’t use foil, it will stick to foil making an impossible mess). Mix everything except the millet together until the nuts/seeds are evenly coated with the syrup and spice. Then add the millet, and again, stir thoroughly. Spread evenly over the bottom of the pan. Bake for 12-13 minutes, no more or nuts may be too brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Break it up roughly and put into a jar to store for up to 2 weeks.
This is fairly nutrient dense, so I use it on top of a bowl of fruit and yogurt, almost as a topping. Used in this way it makes about 6 servings, otherwise about 2-3 servings. Because I only occasionally eat grains I make it in this smaller quantity. Don’t tell anyone, but I sometimes just grab a little handful as a snack. Yummy.
The smell of cinnamon will perfume your house for hours. Wonderful to make in winter, especially. Of course you can change the nuts and seeds to suit your own taste, but the maple/cinnamon/pecan magic may be lost!! Also you can change out the millet for puffed rice or other puffed cereal as you like.
Have a delicious month. 🙂