I used to haaaate Thanksgiving when I was a kid. It was all food and football and lounging and there was nothing for a kid to do but watch the adults wear a path in the carpet from the kitchen to the couch. Luckily for my sanity (not my waistline), I grew up to discover what Thanksgiving is really about. It's not about the stuffing or the football - it's about family, free-time, and guiltless eating, three things that average adults don't get enough of. And now that I'm nearly 28 living a city girl's life, those three things are like pieces of heaven.
In the midst of that busy city girl life, it sometimes takes being surrounded by blessings to realize the ones you're missing. My grandmother passed away from leukemia last spring, and even though we rarely spent Thanksgiving together, I missed her in the kitchen this past week.
Among other things, she was a High School Home Economics teacher when my Mom was growing up and what stuck out in memory this week was her hands. Her small hands were always getting into something... shelling shrimp at the beach house, working in her award winning flower garden, or putting stray hairs into place before church on Sunday. She was an incredibly strong woman, and superstitious as it might sound I'm convinced she's still around - and am hoping she's finding some pride in my late-discovered baking passion.
I had 5 heavenly days at home last week and I made a Thanksgiving dessert as a nod to my grandmother's southern roots. I rounded up some Georgia pecans (pronounced P-CANS) that my Mom picked up last time she was down south and set to making our entire house smell like a maple sugar factory. It worked. This pie is DELICIOUS. I cooled it completely and it cut into pretty wedges. The pecans were toasted and the sugary filling was amazing.
I miss my grandmother a lot, and cancer really sucks (I know that is a ridiculous understatement, but nothing can describe the horror of it). So, here's giving thanks to the beautiful woman who taught me not only how to bread a catfish, but how to be confident in myself - and find the strength to truly miss her. And of course, many thanks for my incredible friends and family, near and far, who make my life worth living every day (and graciously accept the baked goods I force upon them on a semi-regular basis).
Hope you all had a wonderful holiday filled with family and good food :)
Maple Pecan Pie
3/4 cup pure maple sugar
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
Pie crust (like this one)
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups pecan halves
Stir syrup, brown sugar, corn syrup and butter in medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves and butter melts. Increase heat and boil 1 minute. Cool to lukewarm, about 45 minutes.
Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 350 F. Roll out crust dough on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch diameter glass pie dish. Trim dough overhang to 1 inch. Fold edge under, forming high-standing rim; crimp decoratively. Freeze until firm, about 20 minutes.
Whisk eggs, vanilla and salt in 4-cup measuring cup to blend. Gradually whisk maple syrup mixture into egg mixture. Stir in pecan halves.
Pour filling into crust. Bake pie until filling is slightly puffed around edges and center is set, about 55 minutes. Cool pie completely on rack. Cut pie into wedges and serve.