Thursday, November 22, 2012

Pick a Peck of Pecans

 Today I am thankful. Thankful for God’s love and grace, thankful for my family and thankful for my freedom. I am also thankful for the wealth of blessings around us. We live in a unique, amazing state that provides plenty of entertainment, beauty and stories to keep life very interesting.

One of the best things about living in Texas is the abundance of fresh fruits, veggies, nuts, etc. just growing wild. Blackberries in June, plums in July, pecans in November. Not even at famers markets or roadside stands-just out there free for the picking. The biggest problem with this wild abundance is that every year the places to find them get fewer and fewer.

The best blackberry patch I ever saw as a child is now a Super-Target. The great old pecan trees left over from two family farms nearby are now fenced in behind a construction site. The plum trees that grew along every fence line are now barely clinging to the few fence lines that are left.

You can, obviously, go to one of the myriad of “pick-your-own” farms in East Texas. Peaches, blueberries and figs are perennial favorites. There is just something about foraging for your own fresh food that feels a little more satisfying.

I’m not going to say that blueberry cobbler is less delicious because somebody planted the blueberry bushes in rows 30 years ago and they weren’t growing wild in the woods. It would be a bit more satisfying if that’s how you picked them, though. You Maine folks (Downeasters?) know what I’m talking about.

Anyway, the reason this is the subject of my post today is that we wound up with a great Thanksgiving pie from our spoils. It looks awesome and I can’t wait to throw some Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla on top and dig in!

But before we get to slice it up (stop drooling) we have to have a backstory…

Doodly doodly do…
Doodly doodly do…
Doodly doodly do…

*you should absolutely be visualizing Wayne and Garth saying this and waving their hands around, by the way.

I started noticing that the squirrels were deep into kamikaze street streaking-Frogger style. I saw that they were going from pecan tree to pecan tree. Aha! Pecan time. There are many pecan trees in our area that are natives, growing in common areas, greenbelts, empty lots and medians. I snagged a box and a few bags and stashed them in the car. Periodically I would pull over and hop out and gather a few that had fallen to the ground.

One day, I had the younger two girls with me. I asked if they wanted to go for a pecan hunt with me and they agreed. We advanced on a stand of pecan trees and started gathering. They were quickly excited as they counted out the ones they picked up. Not satisfied with the pecans we were finding (they were pretty small as most native pecans are) we moved on to other trees.
We finally found a bunch that were decent sized and we started gathering like crazy. At one point, we had to take the middle child to a birthday party and the youngest and I went back to our harvest.

“This is quite fun and we are quite successful,” she said. “We should do this again!”

We found a lot that had fallen in the wind still in their green cocoons. We peeled the casings back and tossed the nuts in the bag.

“I’m like a monkey peeling a banana,” she said.

I showed her my fingers and told her to look at her hands.

“Oh, they are so stained!” she said. Pecan juice turns your fingers a lovely brown shade.

We kept picking up pecans until we had a huge bag full.

I said, “So after Abby’s party do you want to come back and get more?”

The youngest child looked me in the face and said,” I’m good. I’m done.”

I guess we reached our limit.

Later that week, while the kids were in school, I decided to drive up to Muenster, Texas. About an hour north, the German-heritage community has a fabulous meat market-Fischer’s-and a place to have your pecans cracked. I decided to stop at the aptly named The Pecan Shop on my way to the meat market and see if I could drop off our pecans. Silly me.

I walked into the building and came face-to-face with who I am now calling “The Pecan Jerk”.

I said, “my daughters and I picked up these pecans and I was wondering if I can have them cracked.”

He looked in the bag and said, “Honey, I wouldn’t even turn on the machine for that few pecans.”


“Hasn’t that tree got any more nuts on it? Come back when you get more,” he said. “And tell those girls I’ll pay them $.55 a pound for any they want to sell.”

“Yeah, right! So you can sell them for $8.50 a pound? I wouldn’t even turn on my car for $.55 a pound!”

In my head.
In real life, I said, “thanks anyway.” And I left.

On my way home, I saw another pecan shop in Gainesville. I pulled over and the lady there said, “Sure we’ll crack eight pounds. Just set them there and we’ll get them done.”


So, back to today. We have apple, pumpkin and pecan pies ready to roll. The pecan is all our freshly found and gathered pecans.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

1 comment:

Lauren said...

Oh yes, this is precisely the type of crafty mania I was looking for. Of course, as you know, I cannot partake of a pecan pie but it looks beautiful. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I am thankful for a good friend like you.

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