Candied Spiced Pecans

These spiced pecans are from China Grove, NC. A friend of our has a grove of pecans that produced a bumper crop this year. The three boys use the pecans to raise money for music instruments. So it is a great cause to support.

Pecans are common throughout Kirby

I look forward to the Helms Farm Pecans every year.

There are so many spiced and candied nut recipes out there, you can modify any one of them to fit your tastes. Personally, I love the sweet, salty, slightly hot flavor of these nuts. The warm spices enhance the amazing flavor of the roasted nut, the chili powder gives a slight amount of entertaining heat and the sugars make them indulgent.

Imagine these with fresh pears and bleu cheese! Now, that is an amazing platter to put out with pre-dinner wine and champagne.

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Candied Spiced Pecans

Pre-heat the oven to 300°F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment or use a silpat.

  • 1 ounce egg white (1 white from 1 large egg)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 pound raw pecan halves

Beat the egg white to soft peaks. If it is properly beaten, there will be no liquid in the bottom of the bowl.

Tip: Wipe the bowl and beaters with vinegar to remove any possible oils that may be on the surface. This will ensure a successfully beaten egg white.

While the egg white is beating, mix the sugar and spices in a small bowl.

Beaten egg whites mixed with seasonings.

Beaten egg whites mixed with seasonings.

When the egg is properly beaten, add the seasonings.

Fold in the pecans and toss to evenly coat all of the nuts. Separate any nuts that stick together.

Spread onto a lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for 30 minutes. Stir them occasionally for even roasting.IMG_4831

Cool, separating any nuts that stick together again after roasting.

Package and present as a wonderful gift for anyone!

Please be aware that if you put these out for a party, they will disappear fast! I suggest you save them for a small group.

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Eating Local

This is my interpretation of “eating local“:

Local Fare

Local Fare

The multi-grain bread was made by me and cooked on the grill. The sourdough culture I use is nearly 2 years old and came to me from a friend.

I grew the lettuce.

I made the goat cheese from milk from local goats. I could find out the names of the goats if I wanted. I buy the milk from our organic farmers market who bring it in fresh. Low-temp pasteurized, yeah buddy!

The tomato is from a farm just down the road whose family has been growing vegetables and operating a working farm on the land since 1775. These tomatoes are the first to ripen with any flavor, just perfect for the goat cheese!

So there you have it. Local food for lunch.

In My Kitchen, March 2013

In My Kitchen this month are many things.

Freshly made croissants

Freshly made croissants

Croissants, Hamentashen, Almond Cakes, so much to give away!

My hairdresser got the croissants (some had lovely chocolate in them),DSC_0043 Hamentashen went to many Jewish friends, IMG_5083Almond cakes went with the TV crew and one got scarfed by us smothered in lovely berries and vanilla yogurt.

There is a Peruvian Blue potato that has  sprouted so I decided to try to grow it. So far, there are at least three areas

Sprouting Blue

Sprouting Blue

“rooting”.  I think these may get grown in a bag, if I can find one, to help with harvesting later.

There is a Vita-Mix in my kitchen this month, to “play with” for school. Also included is the large Whole Foods Cookbook they produce for using the Vita-Mix.

My assignment is to come up with something to use it for next semester when my class is “Global Cuisine”. One thing I have learned is that I really like my food with texture, and I like to chew my food rather than drink it.

Visiting Vita-mix

Visiting Vita-mix

I made a wonderful tasting marinade – Citrus Ginger Marinade – that we really liked the flavor but not the emulsified texture of the marinade,sauce or dressing it could be used as. I’ll play with it for a little while longer to see what else it can do, but so far, while I like a powerful blender, it isn’t something I’d really use that often. Smoothies aren’t really my thing, eventually pureed soups need something more interesting than a smooth texture. My opinion, you may love your Vita-Mix! If so, please comment on how you use it!

Perennial herbs are beginning to show signs of growth as winter wanes.

Emerging Garlic Chives

Emerging Garlic Chives

We only had one good afternoon of snow last Saturday and it was all gone on Sunday. But, the tarragon, chives and rosemary are all showing signs of Spring.

I love eating Rosemary flowers! Right now the plant is bursting with the pale purple flowers.

Rosemary Flowers

Rosemary Flowers

Sage flowers are next and then chive flowers. Gather a bunch of them from your herb garden and pop them onto vegetables, salads or garnish almost any dish with them. The flavors are amazing, be sure to linger over it, notice it and enjoy.

Shout out to Celia over at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for hosting the monthly In My Kitchen Posts!

There are many more things simmering away in my kitchen so I’d better grab my camera and get busy documenting.

March 2 and it has been snowing all morning. 2 weeks ago we had “thunder snow”. Local weather lore says if you have thunder snow, you will have another snow 10 days to 2 weeks later.

We had thunder snow 2 weeks ago and this morning we have lovely big fluffy flakes that have been falling all morning. The ground is far too warm for anything to stick so it is really nice to watch.

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Butternut Squash Soup and Grilled Cheese and Tomato Sandwiches for lunch.

Spring is near!

And that is what is happening in my kitchen this month.

Fresh Herb Wreath

DSC_0007Making a fresh herb wreath is easy and very fragrant. I love fresh herbs which is why I grow them, lots of them. If you don’t grow them now, consider starting a herb garden. It will save you a ton of money, you will always have fresh herbs on hand and you can have enough to make things like this. So grow yourself a money-saving herb garden.

You will be dizzy with how great this smells!

Herbs: Thyme, oregano and rosemary

Herbs: Thyme, oregano and rosemary (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To make a fresh herb wreath, you will need:

  • 1 wire wreath frame
  • 1 package of fine floral wire
  • a bunch of fresh herbs
  • Whole garlic and shallots, not peeled

Cover your work space with paper to catch all the leaves that she during the wiring process.

Lay the wreath form on the paper and start attaching bundles of herbs to the frame.

For this wreath I used fresh Thyme and Rosemary.

Overlapping the ends of the herbs, fill the frame all the way around.

With a skewer, pierce a hole through the bottom of the garlic and shallots. Thread a floral wire through the hold and attach the garlic and shallots to the herb frame.

English: Christmas Wreath Being Made

English: Christmas Wreath Being Made (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: A basket of garlic (allium sativum) o...

English: A basket of garlic (allium sativum) offered for sale at the farmers’ market in Rochester, Minnesota (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tie a ribbon and hang. I made a small wire loop on the back of floral wire for the hanger.

The herbs will dry. You can use this in cooking if you like, but I am only using it for decoration this year.

It smells so good!

Fresh Herb Wreath

Fresh Herb Wreath

How to cook – Outfitting Your Kitchen

Dear Tyler,

SO! You are moving into your first apartment. What an exciting time of your life.

Let’s talk about how to outfit your kitchen so you don’t have to eat out all the time or depend on the university’s dining plan any more.

First you will need some decent pots and pans. There is no need to go buy a full set unless you are planning on doing a lot of cooking. It is best to buy pots and pans as your cooking skills grow.

Always buy the best you can afford. Fortunately for you, I have so many pots and pans to give you but only once. The quality of these should last you a lifetime.

All-Clad and Calphalon are great brands with quality products

A basic set of good quality pots and pans.
These are made by All-Clad – The best in my opinion.

There are a lot of cheap knock offs out there.

As a general rule, NEVER buy a pot or pan with a celebrity name on it like Emeril or Rachael Ray or Paula Dean. The stuff is cheap and not the best quality. It is all about looks not performance.

If you can’t afford All Clad or Calphalon, take a good hard look at them in the store. Pick them up and feel the quality, the balance, notice the construction: how is the handle attached to the body of the pot?

Then, when you shop for other lower priced pots, you will know what top quality feels like and therefore can choose quality when you find it in other pots and pans.

SHOPPING HINT:

You can find All Clad and Calphalon sometimes at Marshall’s, TJ Max, Homegoods, Tuesday Morning all at lower than normal retail prices. They don’t always have them but when they do, they are great values.

If you can’t find them at those stores, larger kitchen stores that carry these brands often have semi-annual sales with free gifts with purchase that are really worth while. No need to ever pay full retail price for them. Take your time and look around.

Yes, this means you need to pack them and move them as you relocate. Now you are accumulating the “stuff” you need to outfit your living space.

More than likely, you will always have a kitchen to cook in from now on.

This is what I recommend you start with:

  • 1- 7 or 8″ non-stick saute pan (frying pan for eggs)
  • 1- 10″ saute pan with lid
  • 1- 2 quart pot with lid
  • 1-5 quart pot to boil water for pasta, making soup etc.
  • A series of graduated stainless bowls – at least 5 in the set
  • A colander or strainer of some kind for straining pasta, vegetables etc.
    • You can have fun with these styles, there are some funky colanders in great colors.
  • A cutting board, get one you like; acrylic or wood, your choice
  • 2 heavy-duty sheet pans – commercial 1/2  and 1/4 sheet pans are best; they last and don’t warp.

Small wares: those things you use and keep in the drawer

  • Microplane–  a hand grater in various shredding sizes.

    Various Microplane shredders

  • Peeler
  • Manual can opener – be sure to wash it when you use it
  • Bowl scrapers are handy for scooping things out of bowls or off your cutting board
  • Large metal kitchen spoons: one slotted(rectangular openings), one perforated (round openings) and one solid – these really come in handy
  • Heat resistant spatulas and bowl scrapers

    Heat resistant spatulas – lots of uses – only buy heat-resistant ones. It says so on the label. Why? Because they melt if you use them on the stove and they are not heat-resistant. Who wants plastic in their food?

  • Various wooden spoons – use on non stick pans – they are usually inexpensive and quite handy. Just don’t catch them on fire
  • Professional grade stainless steel tongs – they become like your other hands. Great for moving things in the pan without piercing ( meat). Buy sturdy ones.
  • Wire whisk – the thinner the wires, and the more of them, the more whisking/whipping action you get. Thicker/fewer wires are for dense food items, thinner ones for whipping cream, egg whites or making hollandaise
  • A decent corkscrew – you never know when you will need one
  • Set of measuring cups – look for ones that have both standard and Imperial measures so you only need one set
  • Measuring spoons – You will need them
  • Off-set metal spatula – for taking cookies off the baking sheet and flipping food in the pan
  • Several kitchen towels, sponges and washing-up cloths. You will use these for removing hot things from the oven and for wiping up messes and drying your hands.
  • Three knives:
    • 1 8-10 inch Chef knife or santoku (Which ever you prefer)
    • 1 paring knife
    • 1 boning knife
    • Made from High Carbon Stainless Steel- all about knives may come later.
      • Safety Tip!
        When removing things from the oven, make sure your towel is completely dry or else you will end up with a nasty steam burn.

With all of this, you should be ready to start cooking.

When you get these things, wash them and give them a home somewhere in your kitchen.

These are not the typical cheap things you find in most college apartments.

Take good care of your equipment and it will last you a lifetime. I have sent you top-quality pots and pans.  Wash them up after each use. Don’t let your roommate burn them up! 😉

Good pots and pans wash up neat. Use Brillo or SOS pads to remove any baked on grease or stains as they happen. Bar Keepers Friend or Bon Ami are both scrubbing powders that so not scratch so get some to help keep your pans looking brand new. DO NOT use Comet or Ajax, it will scratch too much.

As a general rule, do not put the pots and pans in the dishwasher. Hand wash. Get used to it.

NEVER put your knives in the dishwasher. The heat can make them brittle and break easier.

As I said earlier, I am giving you a great set of pots and pans, just once! You should be able to give your set to your child when they get their first apartment.

Yes, they will last that long and still be like new if you care for them.

They will cost you a small fortune to replace so make sure you take care of them and take them with you when you move.

Next we will start talking about some basic cooking skills you can easily master that will take you a long way.

Let me know what you want to learn to cook. Tonkatsu?

You already know our family favorite: Sardine and Anchovy Pasta.

You are on your own for dishes. Get something you like and fits your budget.

Love always,

Mom