Sunday, October 28, 2012


Toasted pecans from CARTI's Festivities, Too cookbook
On many a November day, along tree lined roadsides and across orchard-clothed flatlands, you may see people of all ages engaging in a particular rite of autumn. Each man, each woman, each grandparent or child gazes at the grounds, bends over and picks up a handful of brown ovoid nuts and places them in whatever they manage to utilize to carry such a bounty. It is time for the pecan harvest.

Last year an estimated 2.6 million pecans were harvested from orchards
E's Bistro's Lemon Pecan Pie.
around the Natural State. With prices running around $3 a pound, pecans are big business.

Pecans are native to Arkansas. They were highly valued by Native Americans, who traded and consumed them. Spanish explorers thought they were another sort of walnut and called them nueces, or “fruit of the walnut.” They’re a great source of protein, and somewhat easier to crack than walnuts.

Blue Mountain Bakery's Sticky Rolls.
When I was a little girl, the weekend before Thanksgiving was a common time to pick pecans. You don’t pick them off the trees; instead, you get yourself some sort of container or sack and go walking out where the trees are and pick up all you can before your back gives out. My cousins and I would pick up all we could, shoving the nuts into potato sacks or
Praline pecans from Ozark Candy & Nuts.
grocery sacks, until we’d either give out or it got dark. The evenings we’d spend with a set of nutcrackers, carefully popping open each shell and extracting the soft part inside. That’d go to whoever was making pies – because there was ALWAYS pie at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, usually a Karo-nut pie. We’d also eat our share. You learned quickly to examine the nuts before you ate them, because those little woody bits in the center that held the shell together
"Pecan Row" by Grav Weldon, taken near Scott.
are bitter.

Pecan trees are common across the state, and you’ll see them here and there. I even have one in my backyard, though the squirrels seem to reap the bounty the tree offers before the nuts hit the ground. There is a stretch of highway near Scott where pecan trees line either side of the road, offering a shady tunnel during the summer and a stark
Pecan pie at Chip's Barbecue.
reminder of winter’s arrival each December. To get to this pretty place, take 161 south from where it splits off from Highway 167 by the Plantation Agriculture Museum.

Nana Deane's Coconut Pecan Pie, recipe in Arkansas Pie
As I mentioned, pecan pies are a big tradition in my family. We have our own pecan pie recipe, as many families do. While criss-crossing the state, I have discovered many other pie varieties that focus on the pecan. Of note: the PCP (Pineapple, Coconut and Pecan) pie at Ed and Kay’s Restaurant in Benton; Nana Deane’s Coconut Pecan Pie at Ray’s Dairy Maid in Barton and the Bourbon Chocolate Chunk Pecan pie at Greenhouse Grille in Fayetteville. The Backyard Bar-B-Que Company in Magnolia and the Red Rooster Bistro in Alma both make a marvelous rendition of pecan cream cheese pie,
Pecan fried pie at Grandpa's BBQ.
and Ms. Rhoda Adams still makes the traditional version in miniature pie pans down at Rhoda’s Famous Hot Tamales in Lake Village.

Some places, like Skinny J’s in Jonesboro and Grandpa’s Catfish in Cabot even serve up fried pecan pies.

Pecans can be found in sweet potato casseroles, mixed into the cranberry relish and even included in a good cornmeal dressing. What better food to celebrate during November?

Now, as many of you know, I've been developing a rather ridiculous intolerance to corn grain.  I apparently can eat corn off the cob; it's the corn that's used as grain that's been
giving me issue -- and that's the corn used in corn syrup.  I've been avoiding the heck out of corn syrup since February.  My few encounters have lead to some swelling... which is not what I want, believe me.

Most pecan pies are made with Karo syrup.  How am I getting around that?  Simple.  I'm thinking for Thanksgiving, a brown sugar pecan pie will grace my table.

Brown Sugar Pecan Pie

2 eggs, beaten
2 sticks (1/2 pound) butter, melted
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar (the white stuff)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup pecan halves
1 blind baked flour pastry pie shell (store-bought is acceptable, too)
Caramel Pecan Pie at Sweet Treats.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat the heck out of the eggs.  Pour in the melted butter, both sugars and the vanilla and incorporate thoroughly.  Shake chopped pecans with all-purpose flour and add to the mix.

Pour into pie shell.  Top with pecan halves.  Bake for 45 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.


  1. Oh yum!!! Love me some pecan pie. Luckily, we have pecan trees on our farm in NE Ark. So we NEVER have to buy them...

    Will have to try the pie at Greenhouse Grille. Love that place!

  2. When I was a little girl, my mother loved to buy the little pecan pies from Stuckey's whenever we would drive from Little Rock to Fayetteville. I couldn't imagine a pie made of nuts tasting good - but as an adult, it's become one of my very favorites. Thanks for sharing your stories!

  3. Loved this! Wish I could find pecans for $3 a pound! We have tried several of the ones you mentioned, but we will be on a quest to sample them all. I think Hubby's taking me to GG this weekend for a piece:). Hope you are doing well.

  4. Looking forward to your book. Do you have a book signing schedule? Also where In Little Rock would you take out of town business people to eat?

  5. You'll find the book signing schedule on It'll be updated as more dates are added.

    Business folks? B-Side or Ashley's for breakfast or brunch, Ciao or CBG for lunch, and Rocket 21 or Lilly's Dim Sum Then Some for dinner.

  6. One of the best "little" pecan pies is sold by the Magnolia Bake Shop on the square in Magnolia, Arkansas. If you get a chance, come on down, check out the little pies and the new "upscale" eatery on the square "The West End."

    We still pick up our neighbors pecans as well as buying them in 10 lb sacks from a farm in the Red River Bottoms in Garland Arkansas. We just finished shelling the last ones in our freezer last week.

    James F. (and Annette) McClellan
    "Old Poop" and "The Incredible Wife Of His Youth"
    Editor/Publisher "Bug's Bleat"
    NREMT-I, KC5HII, CSP (Retired)
    Magnolia, Arkansas USA
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    God's Bar of Soap - I John 1:9
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