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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Green Tomato Pie or “Pied Green Tomatoes”

Final Harvest!

Final Harvest!

With a frost settling in, everyone is scrambling to gather whatever tomatoes are left on the vines.

Faced with a basket of lovely green orbs, here’s what I decided to make with them.

"Pied" Green Tomatoes!Be sure the tomatoes are hard and show no signs of ripening or else they will turn to mush when cooked.

Green Tomato Pie or “Pied” Green Tomatoes

  • 4 cups peeled and cut green tomatoes
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons instant tapioca
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • Pie crust for top and bottom crusts

Use a peeler to remove the skin from the tomatoes. Because they are green, the traditional method of blanching them in boiling water, shocking and then peeling does not work. The green tomatoes are hard, like an apple, so peel them as you would apples. No need to remove seeds, as the seeds are hardly developed.

Chop the tomatoes into bite sized pieces. Put them into a sauce pot with the lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt; bring to a simmer over low heat.

Chopped Green Tomatoes simmering for pie filling

Chopped Green Tomatoes simmering for pie filling

You will notice a lot of juice being released by the tomatoes. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

Stir this mixture often. When you see it come to a boil, add the sugar and simmer for 5-6 minutes. You want the tomatoes to become tender but not mushy.

Add the butter and instant tapioca to the simmering tomato mixture, remove from heat and cool. The tapioca thickens the juices as it cools. You want the mixture to be cool when you put it into the pastry shell.

While the tomato filling is cooling, make your pie dough, roll it out and line your pie tins or tart shells. If using already made (store-bought dough) prepare your pie pans.

Pre-heat your oven to 435°F while you fill the pie shell.

Fill the shells with the cooled tomato filling. Be sure to cut vents into the top crust. Seal the edges of the crust; brush the top with milk and sprinkle with sugar. I like to use raw sugar for the larger crystals.

Green Tomato Pie in the oven

Green Tomato Pie in the oven

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. You may need to add a foil shield around the crust edge to prevent it from getting too brown. Do this only after the edges are browned already, not when you first put the pie into the oven.

Additionally, place the pie on a sheet pan to catch any drips that may bubble out of the pie during baking. The sheet pan is easier to clean than the oven.

Believe it or not, I couldn’t find a single solitary pie tin of any kind in my kitchen! I used to be a pie making queen. Where are they? All I could find is the fluted tart pans. So I had to use them and put a top crust on anyway. I tried a strusel topping but I didn’t care for the flavor combination with the filling. So I suggest you use a top crust.

If you have a bunch of green tomatoes hanging around, try this pie. It tastes like apple pie made with Granny Smith Green Apples, the texture is the same too.

Whip up some whipped cream, add a dash of cinnamon and serve.

I still have a full basket of green tomatoes so next I’ll be making my Dad’s Green Tomato Chow Chow. Watch for the recipe!

In the meantime, make a Green Tomato Pie. You’ll be pleasantly surprised!

A delicious Green Tomato Pie

A delicious Green Tomato Pie

Another delicious slice of Green Tomato Pie

Another delicious slice of Green Tomato Pie

Green Tomato Pie

Green Tomato Pie

Ketchup or Catsup? Make Your Own

Whether you call it Ketchup or Catsup, we all love vibrant tomato ketchup for one reason or another. I can’t imagine eating pot roast without it, and it is divine with burgers and fries.

Did you know you can make it at home? Leave all the preservatives, artificial flavorings, high fructose corn syrups, red dyes behind you and follow this recipe. This looks vibrant, tastes great and your friends and family will simply LOVE it! Best of all, you know exactly what is in the food you are serving.

Picmonkey Homemade tomato ketchup

This is one small way we can take control of our food and avoid GMO‘s, high fructose corn syrup and other hidden sugars, fats, salts and preservatives. Take a stand against Big Food and learn to make your own ketchup! It’s small, but it will have a very healthy effect of your family!

Homemade Ketchup

For the spiced vinegar:

  • 1-1/2 cups white distilled vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon broken stick cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed

For the ketchup:

  • 5 ½ pounds tomatoes
  • 1 cup granulated sugar – separated into two ½ cup measurements
  • ½ medium onion chopped fine
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon non-iodized salt

Method:

Combine the first four ingredients. Bring to a boil; remove from heat then set aside to cool.

Wash the tomatoes. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Remove the core from the top of the tomatoes and cut a shallow X into the bottom end.

A "Tomato Shark" makes removing the blossom end simple and quick

A “Tomato Shark” makes removing the blossom end simple and quick

Scratch a shallow X on the bottom

Scratch a shallow X on the bottom

The skin will split when ready, the more ripe the tomato, the quicker this happens.

The skin will split when ready, the more ripe the tomato, the quicker this happens.

When the skin splits, plunge into ice water to stop cooking.

When the skin splits, plunge into ice water to stop cooking.

Slip the skins off the tomatoes, cut and squeeze out the seeds.

Slip the skins off the tomatoes, cut and squeeze out the seeds.

Set a large bowl of ice water near the pot of boiling water. Place the prepped tomatoes into the boiling water. As soon as the skin splits, remove and place the warm tomatoes in the ice water to stop cooking.

Slip the skins off the tomatoes. Slice them in half around the center of the tomato, not from top to bottom. Squeeze gently to remove all seeds. Do this over a strainer that is over a bowl to catch the juices that come from squeezing the seeds out.

Cut the tomatoes in quarters. Combine half of the tomatoes with ½ cup sugar, onion, garlic and cayenne pepper in a deep stainless steel pot. Bring to a boil and allow the tomato mixture to boil vigorously for 30 minutes, stirring often to avoid scorching.

After 30 minutes, add the remaining tomatoes and sugar and boil for another 30 minutes. At this point you will need to stir it often as the mixture gets thick.

Strain the vinegar and discard the spices. Add the spiced vinegar to the boiling tomato mixture, stirring constantly for 15 minutes or until the desired texture is reached.

Test the consistency by placing a small amount of the ketchup on a small plate. There should be no watery run off. If there is, keep cooking.

For smooth ketchup, puree using a stick blender, or use a blender to puree the hot mixture. Bottle the hot mixture in sterilized jars or another non-reactive container.

Store under refrigeration unless processing in a water bath canner. An “Old Wives” trick is to wrap each jar in brown paper to protect the color during storage. Not necessary if you store the jars in the refrigerator.

A vibrant bowl of homemade ketchup

A vibrant bowl of homemade ketchup