We traveled to Seguin this weekend to see our granddaughter perform at the Haunted/Historic Magnolia Hotel and to attend the annual Pecan Festival. Unfortunately the rain drove everyone indoors and the festival was cancelled. I was disappointed because I had been looking forward to seeing what kinds of attractions there would be and also because I just love pecans.
Years ago we owned some property just outside of the little town of Brazoria. Every tree on the land was a native pecan tree. Come November of every other year we had a bonanza crop of small but incredibly tasty nuts. We would sit on the ground with boxes next to us and just move around picking up whatever had fallen from the trees. It was always a bit chilly but that actually made the work easier. We really enjoyed those times when we laughed and told stories and filled box after box. A long weekend might net us four or five big containers of booty from the trees.
Then the real fun began. We had to crack all of those pecans and store the meat in Ziploc bags. I used to set up a card table in our den crack nut after nut while watching television. At the end of a session my hands would be dark and dirty from the dust of the shells. Often they were cut as well. All in all it was always worth all the time and trouble. I’d freeze our treasure and use it at Thanksgiving and Christmas and throughout much of the rest of the year.
I usually gave several bags of shelled pecans to my mother. She was famous for her Pecan Pie recipe which she kept as a closely guarded secret. She made them only for Thanksgiving and Christmas and they were always the most coveted dessert. One time another lady brought her version of pecan pie to our Thanksgiving feast. One of my friends who absolutely loved my mother’s pie took a slice of the visitor’s pie and was startled. She realized that something was very wrong because the pie in her mouth was nothing like what Mama always made. She finally discovered her mistake and discreetly discarded the inferior pecan pie in favor of a slice of Mama’s.
My mother loved to retell this story over and over again as did my friend who wanted to be certain the Mama would continue to make pecan pies for her. Over time we begged and pleaded for her top secret recipe but she was reluctant to give it to the world. As she grew older she understood that if she did not finally share her special directions, one day the best pecan pie ever would be no more. The secret would die with her. Ultimately she entrusted the ingredients and the directions to my brother, Mike. He in turn gave it to my niece, Kim.
When I decided to create another story and a recipe I immediately thought of Mama’s pecan pie. It will soon be the holiday season and I wanted to share this wonderful gift with everyone. The problem was that I did not have the recipe. I asked family members and my jokester brother, Pat, said, “Buy a bottle of Karo syrup and follow the directions.” My equally funny daughter, Catherine, chimed in, “What Pat said, but use extra pecans.” Imagine my total surprise when Kim sent me a copy of the recipe. I’ll let you be the judge as to why I was in total shock.
Pecan Pie (NiNi’s recipe)
Purchase a 16 oz.bottle of Karo Syrup and 4 regular frozen pie shells. (No deep dish)
Follow the directions on Karo Syrup except:
- Use regular pie crust instead of deep dish.
- Make 4 pies instead of 2.
- Double the recipe on the bottle and use the whole bottle.
- Use 32 oz. of Pecans for the 4 pies.
I suppose it might be argued that my mother had indeed altered the actual recipe on the Karo Syrup by substituting regular pie shells and using more pecans but that is a little bit of a stretch. Her pecan pie does not have all of that goo that is usually the stuff of pecan pie, so there is a real difference there. Hers is more crunchy and I have to admit that it is more delicious than most that I get elsewhere. Still, I think I now understand why she never gave the recipe to me. She was able to convince all of us, except for Pat and Catherine, that she had indeed created the ultimate pecan pie.
Kim laughingly admitted that she also thought that my mother had invented cheese dip made with Rotel tomatoes and Velveeta. She began to wonder what other family favorites were simply based on ideas that Mama had seen in a magazine or cookbook. What I do know is that my mother was a very good cook. When something didn’t taste quite right she always knew how to doctor it to make it better. So if you wish, try the Pecan Pie recipe as listed above. If it turns out right you will be delighted.