(This has nothing whatever to do with Catholic culture.)

If you are lucky enough to have a friend who lives in South Georgia and has a pecan tree, you might have received pecans this year for Christmas, and you might have thought, Now what am I supposed to do with this. Well, a word or two about pecans. There was a bumper crop this year. The local pecan-shelling place could hardly keep up with the traffic.

First, it’s good to know that in-shell pecans keep in the freezer for a couple of years or more; shelled pecans will keep in the freezer for several months. I’ve used them after eight months frozen and they were as good as fresh.

Of course, we make pecan pies here, but the treacle kind of filling is not to everyone’s taste. (it can send the pancreas into shock.) There’s been an abomination about in the last few years called chocolate pecan pie. No. Chocolate pie filling with pecan topping in place of meringue is okay, but NOT chocolate pecan pie.  More often than pecan pie, we have sweet potato pie with pecan topping. The flavors are wonderful together, much better than marshmallow topping. Also, sweet potato souffle sprinkled with chopped pecans is very good. It really is the very best Thanksgiving dessert, way better than mincemeat or pumpkin.

I have two trees in my yard, and this year they provided an unusually bountiful harvest. Neighbors are free to gather them, but even after that, and after the yard man chews them up with the mower, and after giving the postman, the UPS man, and the sanitation workers grocery-sized plastic bags full, I still had about 20 plastic bags full. I sent some to my aunt down in Florida, who, poor thing, has only oranges in her yard. Sometimes, people ring the doorbell to ask if they can collect them, and I say yes, as long as they don’t climb the trees or shake the limbs. The pecan company here buys them for thirty cents a pound or more, depending on their variety. There are pick-ups of families who drive round all day, gathering pecans from people’s yards. With the children helping, their labor amounts to a nice bit of extra money.

Pecans really are the best-tasting nut. They’re not the healthiest nut; I believe that honor goes to almonds, but they’re the most flavorful. I don’t ever buy pecans from commercial growers, and wouldn’t, even if I didn’t have trees. They’re full of all sorts of chemicals used to fertilize and of course, pesticides. This is an organic household; there is nothing on this property spelled with a -cide suffix. Nothing. And no one.

If you have pecans and don’t know what to do with them, try this:

Preheat the oven to 300.

For about 2 cups of pecan halves, use at least 1 tablespoon of eggwhite, beaten to a nice froth, swirl them around and spread them out on a bakng sheet, sprinkle with ¼ cup of sugar mixed with a teaspoon of cinnamon. Bake for about 20-30 minutes Don’t let them burn. Put them in clear jars or plastic wrap, put a bow on them, and use them as gifts for teachers, pastors, friends or neighbors, or droppers-in. You will want to keep some for yourself.