Thursday, January 2, 2014

Home Harvest: Pecans

When we bought our house last October, one of the "pros" on our pro/con list was the presence of a massive pecan tree in the backyard. It so far has provided summer shade, a place to hang our hammock, and as of last month, at least 40+ gallons of pecans. And there are still more on the ground, which I eye guiltily and step around because only so much time can be dedicated to picking them all up. And shelling them. But eating them? That's no problem, because these beauties can be used in so so many ways - pie, spiced, toasted, in quickbreads, raw and straight into my mouth, etc. Lots of possibilities, really. 

While other nuts might hog the nutritional spotlight a little (I'm looking at you, almonds), pecans are not lightweights when it comes to health benefits. Pecans contain a whopping 19 vitamins and minerals – including vitamin A, vitamin E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, several B vitamins and zinc. They're good for your heart and brain! Exciting, right?

Chris has made three much-fawned over pecan pies this year, and my mom came to visit over Thanksgiving and whipped up a batch of sweet and spicy pecans, but one of my favorite ways to eat them is simply toasted a bit, chopped and sprinkled over my morning oatmeal, to which I've usually added a handful of dried cranberries or raisins. 

Like so:

Mmm, hearty. One thing to note, though. Watch your pecans while your toasting them, lest they overheat and turn into molten oil nuggets. It happens, I know from experience. Last year, just after we bought the house, I was toasting (broiling) pecans in the oven and got distracted. I don't know how long they stayed in there, but by the time I ran into the kitchen after smelling smoke, they were on fire. Little puddles of pecan shaped fire bombs. I ran outside with the baking sheet and flung them to the ground and then went around stomping on the individual mini-fires...until I realized I was melting the bottoms of my shoes. So yeah, keep an eye on the suckers.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Frost, Harvest, Freeze...gardening in December

Living in the coastal southeast, our gardening windows are a little different. We go big in the spring to make sure things grow and get eaten before the heat (and bugs) of summer kick in, and we have a long and somewhat leisurely fall/winter growing season that we plant and hope that it doesn't get too cold before the harvest. So here it is, mid-December, and we're pulling in lots of gorgeous broccoli, kale, collards and cabbage with the occasional carrot or two in there as well. We've had a few frosts, but overall it's been pretty mild, so we're counting on at least a few more weeks to be able to get yummy greens out of the garden.


We are trying out a few new things in the garden this season, we met a "garlic guy" this fall so we're trying a few out, here are the tops peeking up through their covering of straw. We also planted parsnips, which are growing well but haven't produced any big roots yet, so we'll see...they're on the right in the photo below.


Broccoli may be my favorite garden veggie. I can always find something to do with it, and the chickens and rabbits love the leaves.