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A woodland in fall color is awesome as a forest fire, in magnitude at least, but a single tree is like a dancing tongue of flame to warm the heart.

~ Hal Borland ~

From the GTG Garden and Greenhouse

This year has been one of the toughest for plants and critters, including me!
Tornadoes, droughts in some areas, flooding in others have challenged many of us to explore near the limits of resourcefulness. I am hoping this newsletter finds you healthy and ready to enjoy the upcoming holidays with your loved ones.
I am giving special thanks for a nearly completely healed knee. Once again, I can work in the garden and enjoy the beauty Mother Nature bestows upon all of us.

Happy Thanksgiving, Belle

Green Thumbs Galore LLC

Going Nuts for Pecans

by Dava Stewart

Yummy, yummy nuts. Their nutritional value is hard to overstate, and from hazel nuts to cashews, there are flavors to suit just about any palate. One of my personal favorites is the pecan. They are good raw, and their flavor is frequently described as buttery and sweet. What’s not to love about a food that is good for you AND tastes buttery and sweet?

The history of the pecan mirrors the history of the settlement of the Americas, to some degree. Like so many other foods, pecans originated in the Americas, but quickly became a global favorite. Originally, people gathered the nuts in the wild, but in the 1800s a slave known only as Antoine perfected a grafting process that made commercially growing pecans a more reliable and profitable activity.

The pecan tree is a variety of hickory, and Native Americans from Mexico to Iowa to the East Coast made good use of wild pecans. The word “pecan” is actually a derivative of an Algonquin word, paccan, that means “nut requiring a stone to crack.” The Algonquin also called hickory nuts and walnuts paccans.

Growing pecans requires space and time. Most varieties - there are over 500 cultivars - take about 10 years to begin bearing, and they can grow to be 100 feet tall, have a trunk circumference of up to six feet and live for as long as 1000 years! However, just one tree can yield up to 400 pounds of nuts in a single season. That’s a LOT of pies.

Whether you grow your own or buy them, pecans are in season now. They are easy to shell, and are tasty raw, roasted, in recipes, and of course, they make perfect pies. Pecan pie is probably the most well known dish made from this buttery nut, and it is the third favorite pie in the United States - apple is first, and pumpkin is second.

Some people claim that the first pecan pie a person bakes is the best they will ever bake, but my own experience shows that is not always the case. When I was about eight years old, my mom let me make the pecan pies for Thanksgiving dinner all by myself. She showed me the recipe and we got out all of the ingredients and she left me alone in the kitchen.

The two most beautiful pies in the world came out of the oven an hour or so later. Everyone in the house admired them and said what a good job I’d done. An uncle from out of town visited the next day and raved about the pies so much my mom cut one and sent a piece with him.

He had a long drive and told us later that he was on the freeway, way out in the middle of no where, and heard that piece of pie calling his name. It looked so tempting he decided to eat it even though he didn’t have a drink.

And that’s when we found out I’d misread a crucial step in the recipe. It called for ¼ TEASPOON of salt. Not ¼ CUP of salt. Ooops.

My uncle spit out the pie, (eventually) found an exit, bought a drink and called us to warn us about the pies. I’ve definitely made better pies since that first one.

There is a little bit of mystery surrounding the origination of the pecan pie. The makers of Karo Syrup claim that the first pecan pie was made by the wife of one of their company’s executives in the 1930s. While that may just be marketing in action, no one has found a copy of a pecan pie recipe that dates prior to 1925.

However, the most commonly accepted story of the origination of pecan pie is that early French settlers in New Orleans concocted it. Most modern recipes call for corn syrup, which wasn’t available until the 1880s, so the earliest version of pecan pie may have been made with corn syrup, or like this favorite of ours, with brown sugar and melted butter:

Jeff’s Pecan Pie
3 eggs, beaten
1 ½ cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
4 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine above ingredients and stir in:
1 cup pecans
Pour into:
9 inch pastry shell
Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.  Let cool and enjoy.


November in the Garden
Practical & Pretty Holiday Gift Ideas for Gardeners:

Funny Plant Signs:
Wind Chimes:
Bird Feeders :