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Autumn Cooking | Cinnamon Candied Pecans

Candied Pecans Recipe

I can remember my grandmother and mother making certain yummy treats beginning in September. Autumn would arrive soon, and that meant these delectable sweets would follow. As I’ve grown older, I’ve wanted to create those special memories for my little one too. But let’s face it, I love food, so I also wanted to make these recipes myself.

One of my favorites that I’ve had to perfect over the past couple of years has been candied pecans. I have tried recipe after recipe, and they just weren’t what I was looking for. This normally means I’m going to have to tweak it to what I think it needs — true cook, they say. I simple say it’s my love of butter. But also, my longing for simplicity in taste. I wanted something simple and sweet. That’s it. Doesn’t taste right?–add butter. Doesn’t look right?–add butter.

Guess what. I added butter, and now I can’t stop eating these things. Candied Pecans, that is.

Autumn reminds me of pecan pie and fried apples. And therefore, so do candied pecans. My favorite Autumn snack are these sweet little nuts, coated in sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter. Lots of butter.  This recipe calls for egg whites as well, and our farm duck eggs make this even more special. Once baked, they create an ooey gooey goodness that is incomparable to what you  might find at a fair or those hard, dried nuts you find in the special section at the grocery store.

I hope you enjoy this recipe — I know we certainly do!

Candied Pecans

 

Cinnamon Candied Pecans

4 tbs. butter, melted
1 large egg white
1/4 cup sugar (I use organic evaporated cane juice)
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
8 ounces (about 2 cups) pre-shelled pecan halves

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an entire 9×9 baking dish with aluminum foil. Pour melted butter in bottom of pan on top of foil, not allowing any of the butter to escape the foil lining.

2. In a large, separate bowl, combine egg white, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla extract, and cinnamon.

3. Pour pecan halves into egg white and sugar mixture, coating each halve evenly.

4. Pour the pecan mixture into the baking dish in a single layer (as much as possible).

5. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, stirring mixture every 10 minutes. Allow mixture to rest once done (do not go over 30 minutes) for 10 mins. Transfer to a separate dish until completely cooled. Back in an air tight container or in goody bags to share with friends and family or as holiday gifts.

** for a kick to your pecans — add a sprinkle of cayenne pepper!

 

photo (4)Amy Fewell is the Advertising Manager of The Piedmont Virginian Magazine, as well as one of our writers and graphic designers. She resides in Rixeyville, VA along with her husband, son and loveable lab. They run a small “mini-homestead” and Amy owns her own photography business. For more information, visit their homestead website and Amy’s personal photography website.

A Generation of Sourdough Bread

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I would tell a lie if I told you I eat a lot of bread. I actually eat very little bread. However, when I have it, and when I make it, I devour it in a heartbeat. You could say that bread is my weakness when it’s available. But it must be fresh, hot out of the oven bread.

It’s only natural that my very first job was working in a little Mennonite store in Remington, Virginia. I’ve always said that my cooking and baking skills came from that stage in life rather than from my mother or grandmother. I never got many opportunities to cook “with” my mom or grandma, or maybe I simply wasn’t interested in it at the time. But as I have grown and now have a family of my own, I often think of cooking and baking with grandma now. The sad fact is that I now cook and bake for her, instead of with her. Slow down, time….you’re taking the people we love away from us much too quickly.

A few years ago a friend of my mothers sent me a sourdough starter through the mail. I was terrified that the white powdery substance would be inspected as some chemical war of terror, but it made it safely to my mailbox in just a few short days — from North Carolina to good ol’ Virginia.

Sourdough was a brand new thing to me. I loved eating sourdough, but I never understood the complex science behind it. I’m a fermenting queen now, but back then? No way.

The history of sourdough is simple. People needed an option to preserve and make something on a regular basis. Fermentation was one of the very first ways of preserving food for our ancestors. Yes, it came long before canning.

But with something so simple, I failed. I failed miserably the first time. I even had to ask for more suspicious white powdery mailed substance so that I could start all over again — and then I failed again. Eventually I gave up because I didn’t have the time for this complex science. Recently, however, I discovered it’s not science at all, but an art.

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Fried Green Tomatoes

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When you say the name, you think one of two things — the 1991 movie, or the southern food staple. I can’t say I remember much of the movie, but I can assure you, I remember the taste of that bitterly sweet and fried goodness on a muggy Summer night. Front porches and sweet tea have never been complimented so well — and you’re not a true Piedmont food enthusiast if you’ve never eaten fried green tomatoes.

So many of our Piedmont restaurants offer this appetizing treat, but it’s the season of tomatoes, and as we do well here in the Piedmont, we like to make things ourselves when the opportunity arises. Most of our local Farmer’s Markets now offer hard green tomatoes for frying. So, even if you don’t have a garden of your own, there’s still hope for you.

There’s been an ongoing debate for the past few decades as to where fried green tomatoes actually originated. Is it even a southern food at all? Some believe that the method came from the Northeast with Jewish immigrants. While others believe that it was always a preferred way to use up unripened tomatoes before the autumn frosts hit, all across the United States.

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Easy Homemade Lemonade

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Last week, the backwoods kid and I spent a day at his grandparents farm. As always, everything at grandma and grandads is better than what’s at home. And it just so happened that today, it would be lemonade. That child can drink the heck out of lemonade. So, being on our journey of “all natural” and less processed, I thought it would be fun to make homemade lemonade at home for him this week. He was pretty excited about it, too.

Let’s forget about the fact that lemons aren’t native to Virginia.

Let’s forget about the fact that you just absolutely cannot find “organic” lemons at the grocery store, and especially not the farmer’s market. Although, I eventually found some at Martin’s Grocery.

And let’s just pretend it’s completely pesticide free, okay?

Ok, now that I got that off my chest…..

Lemonade is incredibly easy to make, and with just 10 lemons, a cup of sugar and some water — it makes an entire gallon of sunshine goodness.

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Breakfast for Dad — Father’s Day Weekend Recipes

I have the pickiest eating husband in the entire world. The madness never ends — one day he likes something, the next day it’s the worst thing he’s ever put in his mouth. So you can imagine how hard it is for me to choose what things to create for meals on special occasions like birthdays, our anniversary, and Father’s Day. Over the past decade of our marriage I have mastered a few recipes that he enjoys no matter what. If you have a picky Dad in your house, then these recipes will work perfectly for you this Father’s Day Weekend!

cinrolls2

©Amy Fewell

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

DOUGH:
1 Tbs or package yeast
½ c warm water
2 c milk
½ c butter
2 Tbs salt (unless you’re using salted butter)
1/3 c sugar
7-8 c flour

 

COMBINE:

In a mixing bowl add yeast to warm water. Set aside.
Warm milk (just slightly) on stove.
Add butter, sugar, and salt to milk. Stir until somewhat dissolved or until butter is almost melted.
Add milk mixture to yeast mixture. Combine.
Add 5 cups of flour and mix well. Keep adding flour until you have a smooth and elastic dough. Dough will be slightly sticky but not too sticky where you can’t get it off of your hands.
Flour your surface and knead dough for 5 minutes. Continue to flour your surface while kneading should dough start to stick.
Let dough rise in a warm place until doubled. (I like to put in a bowl on a heating pad for faster rising)

Once dough is risen, divide dough in half and roll each half out into a ½” thick rectangle. If you’ve done it right, you’ll notice that your dough is very light and airy feeling as you roll it out.

FILLING:
1/3 c butter
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 c brown sugar
2 tbs cinnamon

Melt butter. Mix sugars and cinnamon together in a separate bowl. Drizzle melted butter all over rolled out dough. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon mixture over top of butter until completely coated.

Roll dough, starting from a long side. Don’t roll too tightly, but make sure it’s tight enough to keep your filling in place.

Next, take a piece of thread and cut ¾” to 1” cinnamon rolls, depending on what size you’d like. Place in a buttered pan (I use 4+ round cake or pie pans, but you could use a rectangle baking dish). Let rise for approx. 20 minutes and then bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes OR until tops are hardening and start to color around edges. You do not want your cinnamon rolls brown on top. As soon as they start to turn, take them out. This keeps them extra moist. Allow to cool until warm to the touch, then add frosting while still warm.

FROSTING:
2 Tbs soft butter
4-6 cups powdered sugar
1 ½ tbs vanilla extract
3-4 Tbs hot water

Stir together all ingredients, starting with just 4 cups of p. sugar. Add sugar gradually until just “spreadable”. Frost rolls when they are still warm but not too hot. This allows the frosting to start melting, but still keeps frosting on top of rolls.

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© Amy Fewell

Quick and Easy Homemade Pancakes

1 + 1/4 cup flour
1 egg
1 + 1/4 cup milk
1/4 sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cooking oil

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl.

Mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients in large bowl.

Heat up a cast iron or non-stick skillet to medium heat. Melt a small pat of butter in skillet or use cooking spray. Pour pancake batter of desired sizes into skillet. Flip when golden brown. The key is to only flip the pancake once, otherwise it will become too dense.

Serve with organic maple syrup or King Syrup.

DSC_3998

© Amy Fewell

 Spinach, Bacon, Tomato and Cheese Quiche

6 eggs
3/4 cup heavy cream
Salt & pepper to taste (about 1 tsp each)
Onion and garlic powder to taste (about 2 tsp each)
1 to 1.5 cups of shredded mild cheddar cheese
1 box of spinach (10 oz, thawed and drained)*
Bacon (to taste), fried, drained and crumbled
Cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (again, as many as you’d like)

*You can use fresh spinach, however, you’ll need to wilt it in a skillet with some bacon drippings before adding to your quiche mixture.

Break open eggs into large bowl, mix until yolks are completely broken up and combined. Add heavy cream and seasonings, mix well. Add remaining ingredients and combine well. If you wish to  make a fancier top, you can place the tomatoes on top of the quiche instead of mixed into the quiche.

Place mixture in pan with raw pie crust (homemade or store bought) and bake at 400 degrees for 45-60 minutes.

You can use this same recipe for all types of quiche. The photo above is a spinach, mushroom and cheese quiche.

I hope that some of these breakfast dishes can bring joy to your sweet Papa’s face this Father’s Day weekend!  As always, these recipes can be tailored to suit your picky eaters needs if necessary (for example, my husband hates onions, so I use onion powder instead of onions). The best dishes are the ones made with love and thought!

Have a beautiful Father’s Day weekend.

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photo (4) Amy Fewell is the Advertising Manager of The Piedmont Virginian Magazine. She resides in Rixeyville, VA along with her husband, son and loveable lab. They run a small “mini-homestead” and Amy owns her own photography business. For more information, visit their homestead website and Amy’s personal photography website.

 

 

 

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