Saturday, May 7, 2011

Pecan pie (p. 682)

I will share a small story so you all know how obsessive I am about TJOC. I have a giant Google document that includes every recipe I have yet to make. It includes which recipes have strange ingredients, which have strange equipment, and who (out of the friends and family I often cook with) would like to help me with each recipe. I am rather embarrassed about this because it seems over-the-top and share it sparingly (I think I've shown it to about 6 people). When Josh and I decided to go to his brother's graduation, I knew I wanted to make a dessert from TJOC. So I sent my BIL the document and let him pick what he was interested in.

He chose Pecan pie (p. 682), after slogging through about 600 desserts.

I blended together eggs, brown sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, vanilla, and salt.

I mixed in two cups of...pecans...(Mom didn't actually have two cups of pecans so my pecan pie became more of a pecan/walnut pie):

I poured the nut mixture in to a baked crust:

It was baked for about 40 minutes (make sure to cover your crust so that it doesn't burn--I have a new paper clip trick to try out and show you next time):

It was oozy when we cut in to it:

How was it? Good! Again, I think it was a bit too loose and the crust stuck to the bottom of the pan, which I didn't like. Overall, it had a great flavor (not too sweet and full of tasty nuts) and it was a winner with the crowd. It was certainly full of nuts, which I like in pecan pie--it seems like sometimes I buy a piece and it's all filler and not nearly enough nuts.

I always associate pecan pie with my Uncle Dale. Dale was an incredibly amazing and incredibly eccentric man. He was the type of man who told his friends that he would marry the next women who got on the bus (and he did--he was happily married to my Aunt Patsy until he passed away a few years ago). He owned a chimney sweep company, wore a top hat like Abe Lincoln, and even had a Madame Alexander doll modeled after him. He was an incredibly nice man (he would literally give you the shirt off his back), a super interesting person (he had gigantic collections of everything from Viewfinders to jukeboxes), and a great businessman (not a combination found in most people). And he made an amazing pecan pie. I don't think I ever spent any time with Dale which didn't, at some point, include pecan pie. So I reminisced about my late uncle while making the pie, making the experience bittersweet.

I have food memories about essentially all of my close relatives (my Aunt Charlotte makes the best gravy in the world and the best vinaigrette, I ate caviar and blini for the first time with my Aunts JeJe and Jen, I always associate vichyssoise and beef tartar with my Uncle Denny and my Aunt Ginni, and so on...) so when an association that I didn't remember until I was actually baking the item pops out of the woodwork, it's a nice surprise. Does everyone associate their family with food memories as strongly as I do?

(Photograph: The Augusta Chronicle)

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  1. Nice memories of Dale (my brother). I too, enjoy a good pecan pie full of nuts, and often think of Dale while eating it.

    What you left out out about Dale is that part of his background was a baker/cook on a US Navy ship, so he served his country while learning to make the best pies in the world. I don't remember Dale ever using a recipe to make these great pies but instead used instinct and maybe some adjustments based on temperature and humidity, how much liquid was in the fruit, etc.

    The bottom line is any great result comes with a few mistakes along the way but mostly from a lot of practice.

    Derryl M.

  2. What a yummy-looking pie! Pecan pie is my favorite & I do remember Mr. Dale & Ms. Patsy. I was just a child & my Dad & Mr. Dale were both in the Navy stationed in Charleston. I am so happy to have talked with Ms.Patsy again after all these years, her voice hasn't's still as sweet as it ever was back in those days!

  3. In TJOC, they do tell you to toast the pecans lightly first. Amazing flavor from that!


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