Maw Maw’s Karo Pecan Pie

26 12 2014

I had a sweet memory of my Paw Paw as I was chopping pecans for holiday treats. When I was a little girl we’d go pick pecans from the tree across the street from my grandparent’s home. While sitting in his lap, he’d take out his pocketknife and cut open the pecan—it was like he was peeling an apple—and let me eat the pecan meat.

My Mom and her Daddy, circa 1932

My Mom and her Daddy, circa 1932

The picture was my Mom’s favorite of her and her Daddy. I’m sure he peeled pecans for her just like he did for me. I imagine that my mom and her dad would eagerly await the delicious Karo Pecan Pie that my Maw Maw baked for her family.

recipe

Pecans are often given as a gift down here in South Louisiana. A pecan pie is about as Southern as a dessert can get. It’s been a family favorite for generations. I found my grandmother’s recipe on a small scrap of yellowed paper. If you received pecans as a gift (or if you didn’t, go buy some), here’s the classic dessert.

Maw Maw’s Karo Pecan Pie

pecanpie

4 Eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark Karo syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pecans (the fresher the pecans, the better the pie)
2 tablespoons butter (melted)
pinch of salt
1 deep dish pie shell

Crust: (I buy ready made though I’m sure my Maw Maw made her own.) Preheat oven to 300°. Prick bottom of shell several times with fork. Add mixture of sugar and flour and rub into the holes. Bake shell for 10 minutes. This keeps shell from becoming soggy.

Filling: Beat eggs and add remaining ingredients. Pour into pie shell.

Bake at 350° for 1 hour.

Goes well with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream (but what pie doesn’t).

Other recipes you may like:
Maw Maw’s Hot Milk Cake
Maw Maw’s Cocoon Cookies
Maw Maw’s Fresh Apple Cake
Maw Maw’s Chess Pie

I honor my maternal lineage: I am Connie Lee, daughter of Jimmie Dee, daughter of Jimmie Corrine, daughter of Minnie Mae; mother of Jade Lee-Mei.

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Yuletide: New Orleans style

16 12 2014

I only live 90 miles away, but New Orleans is a world apart. Every time I visit, I love it more.  My sweetie and I spent a December weekend savoring it all. Yuletide in this old city has it’s own feel; it’s not Mardi Gras or festival-time or it’s-so-hot-I-can’t-breathe-I-must-find-a-cold-bar-summertime.

NOLA

It’s beautiful and sparkly, people aren’t in a hurry, there’s more children with their families in the grand hotels all dressed up in their holiday best. There’s the odd mix of evergreen and palm trees and the illusion in hotel lobbies that it’s cold and wintery yet everyone is wearing short sleeves. The city feels more ancient at Christmas, maybe it’s the carolers dressed in vintage clothes sitting in the bars taking a break from singing their carols. Or maybe it’s the old spirits of those who have walked it’s streets, have once again come back for a visit.

NO1

I love the aromas of New Orleans
New Orleans has it’s own smell that’s like no other city. It’s the wet, humid, tropical, heavy air mixed with french bread, coffee, frying foods, beignets, alcohol and car exhaust. You sense the decay and the decadence and the history. It fills your senses the moment you arrive. For me it breathes welcome back.

musicians

I love the sights and sounds of New Orleans
Car horns, people talking, laughing, arguing, but mostly I hear music and as the sound of one musician fades you hear another. A trio of men singing Temptations-style wearing matching suits and standing in the middle of the street; musicians from different generations coming together doing what they all love; crowds dancing and clapping; young street people with matted hair making up for their lack of talent with their great enthusiasm.

I love the tastes of New Orleans
Almost immediately upon arrival, we go to have a drink at my favorite spot in the Quarter. The balcony at Muriel’s overlooking Jackson Square in the shadow of the Cathedral.  Muriel’s is a favorite place for a memorable meal; their crawfish and goat cheese crepes will remain a sense memory that stays with you for the rest of your life. But this is also a haunted restaurant. It was once a private home and the owner gambled it away in a poker game one night long, long ago. He came home and hung himself so the home wouldn’t be taken away from his widow. If you meander through the back hallway on the way to the balcony, you’ll see the table set every day with bread and wine for his ghost.

NO

Great food is so much the heart and soul of this city. And whatever restaurant you stumble upon will quickly become your favorite until you stumble upon another. Even the bread and coffee are better here. Herbsaint is a little bistro that we’ve been hearing about. I love to watch cooking shows and am always intrigued by the food combinations that I never thought could be put together. The magic that occurs when tastes blend and marry in your mouth with the perfect pairing of wine.  We had one of their signature dishes Housemade Spaghetti with Guanciale and Fried-Poached Farm Egg. I do not know how you can fry a poached egg with a crust and keep the yoke buttery. But they did it. When you cut that egg and it drizzles into the pasta, well, my eyes rolled back in my head, as I tasted total deliciousness.

A toast to New Orleans
When I win the lottery, I’ll buy a French Quarter home with a courtyard and a balcony. I’ll call to you from the street and invite you up for a drink, maybe a Pimm’s Cup or a Sazarac. And you’ll join me on the balcony and we’ll wish everyone below a Merry Christmas.

Wishing you a sparkly and  merry Yuletide. –Connie

Wishing you a sparkly and merry Yuletide.
–Connie


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The Pooping Holiday Toy Collection and other Traditions

8 12 2014
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It’s time to haul the boxes of decorations out of the attic, which hold my pooping holiday toy collection and other treasures. As each box is opened, memories and traditions spill out. My sweetie and I are still blending our lifetimes of traditions together. Happily our shared offbeat sense of humor has allowed our different customs to play well together. Thank goodness we’re both more Christmas Vacation style than Martha Stewart style. A tradition I hold dear is that my mom, my daughter and I must repeat the stories behind each ornament as we hang them on the branches of our fresh tree…every single year. Steve having a bourbon during the telling of these stories has now become part of this tradition.

The ornaments are eclectic and cross four generations; there’s ornaments from travels, tiny wooden shoes from Holland, an Elvis ornament from Graceland, a starfish dressed up like Santa from a beach trip; a glitzy fleur de lis from New Orleans. There’s the Disney IMG_0112princess phase my daughter went through represented with Snow White and Pocahontas ornaments. We have lots of handmade things too; the Wizard of Oz collection my Mom made when I was young that’s only a little chewed up from the dog who thought Dorothy was a chew toy; an empty beer can that’s painted with the pop off lid hole designed to look like an angel singing; lots of God’s Eyes—popsicle sticks with yarn wrapped around them—that my Girl Scout troop made me on a long ago campout; and even a faded crayon-drawn ornament on cardboard held together with lots of staples that survived from my early childhood when I had just discovered the magical properties of a stapler. My sweetie’s White House collectible ornaments from his decade in Washington blend well with everything. The blingy silver beaded garland and colored lights tie it all together.

We have several little holiday collections, none real large and none that really match. Other than the pooping toys I have nutcrackers, reindeers, angels, Santas; there are lots of candles, a Yule log and a menorah. Steve added his Holy Land village that he collected over decades with his children. It fits in our idiosyncratic collections and I agree with him, that a turkey is a nice addition to the traditional manger animals.

While I appreciate well designed, simple and tasteful holiday decorations, it’s the shiny, whimsical, silly and tacky side of the holidays that I’m drawn to. The classic wreath on the front door with simple white lights is lovely—but it’s the house with an over abundance of mismatched lights, a Christmas giraffe standing next to a penguin manger that’ll make me slow down to take a picture.

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When it comes to gifts, we believe in quantity over quality. A pair of socks equals two wrapped gifts. We’ll even wrap a package of Oreos and a six-pack of cokes. We have a large shabby bow that we call the family bow; it’s too ratty to give anyone outside of immediate family. It’s considered lucky to have your gift wrapped with the family bow.

This year we’ll be blending in a new tradition. My sweetie has little grandchildren so we will have Christmas dinner at their home where Santa will have just made a big stop. His adult children have requested a return of Steve’s Christmas spaghetti. As I understand it, you add green food coloring to the noodles so when the red meat sauce is added, everyone will have a plate of red and green deliciousness. I’m looking forward to this new tradition and love that it’s a revival of a treasured family memory for a new generation.

Baking Christmas cookies and making ornaments

Baking Christmas cookies and making ornaments

I’m going to make wine cork ornaments to go along with my Christmas cookies. I need to get started so it must be time open a bottle now that I’m collecting corks! Cheers to happy holidays and your own treasured traditions!

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