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Homemade for the Holidays

2 December 2008 1,658 views 5 Comments

Dear Friends and Loved Ones:

angeldogI’ve decided not to give holiday gifts this year. I’m giving you advance notice so that we can avoid the annual guessing game of who we all need to buy for. You can go ahead and cross me off of your list.
I’m sending each of you my heartfelt wish for a peaceful and loving holiday season.
Hugs,
Jodi
On my way home from the airport this weekend, I stopped off at Berdoll Pecan Farm to pick up a bag of freshly harvested nuts. I was also really curious to see the vending machine they put in this summer so that customers can buy pies, nuts, and casign_008ndies at any time of day. You can’t miss Berdoll Pecan Farm if you are driving East from Austin to Houston. It’s off 71 and there is a huge flashing red sign announcing that they are open for business.
I ate my fill of mom’s delicious pecan pie in Maryland so I wanted to do something different with the pecans and I decided to try my hand at pralines. I found a simple recipe online at http://www.frenchquarter.com/dining/pralines.php. I chose that site because the fvending machineirst praline I ever enjoyed was in New Orleans about 5 years ago when German and I were driving from New York to Austin. Here is the recipe:
New Orleans Pralines
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup light cream
1 ½ cups pecans, halved
2 tablespoons butter
boilingCombine sugars and cream in a heavy 2-quart saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until mixture forms a thick syrup.
Add pecans and butter and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring frequently.
Remove sauce pan to a heatproof surface (such as a wire rack) and let cool for 10 minutes.
Use a tablespoon to drop rounded balls of the mixture onto sheet wax paper or foil, leaving about 3 inches between each ball for pralines to spread. Allow to cool.
The above was supposed to make 12 pralines but I doubled it and must have made my pralines small because I ended up with 50! I can’t keep temptation like that around the house so I cooled them overnight, bought some clear plastic bags and labels from Michael’s, and made each praline into a little present. I passed them out to colleagues today at work and am bringing the rest to a potluck dinner I’m going to later on this week.
giftsA little history for ya:
Pralines were an early entrepreneurial vehicle for free women of color in New Orleans. Pralinieres were often older black women who sold pralines in the streets of the French Quarter as early as the 1800′s.
And for the health “nuts”:
Pecans have more antioxidants than any other tree nut and are actually ranked high among all foods for antioxidants, an important component of disease prevention (although not sure how that works when combined with butter, cream, and lots of sugar).
Are any of you making your holiday gifts this year instead of buying them? What are your favorite food-related gifts?
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  • film

    similar recipe to mine… god I miss pralines. I can’t do butter or cream anymore… and the fake butter and silk just doesn’t fool anyone (plus it remains just goo). *Sigh*

  • Brittney

    I heard there were snacks? :)

    I’ve been to that pecan place on 71–they have some good stuff! For the life of me, I can’t remember the restaurant here in Houston that gives you old fashioned pralines with your check, but rest assured that they are–in fact–delcious.

    And I’m totally with you on the gift giving thing–I told everyone to cross me off their lists too!

  • double tonic

    My friends and family don’t get SQUAT. I’ve had a no-gifts rule in place for almost a decade.

    But I’m making a few batches of dog treats for friends with pups. Lucy will get a little Channukah bag ;-)

  • Jodi

    Another great recipe to try (thanks mom):

    Nutty Caramel Popcorn Love

    18 -20 cups of air popped corn
    1 cup of unsalted pecans
    1 cup of blanched almonds unsalted
    1 cup cashews, salted
    1 cup peanuts, salted
    1 cup brown sugar
    1 cup butter
    1 tsp salt
    Brown nuts in oven for 10 -15 minutes ( 9X13) pan in oven. (I would imagine at about 350…watch to prevent burning)
    Add popcorn
    Melt butter and brown sugar until bubbly. Stir into popcorn and nuts. Bake 10 minutes and stir after 5 minutes at 350 degree. Put into pretty cellophane containers and wrap with ribbon.

  • Jared

    how bout holiday granola… with PECANS! I was thinking about that as a nice homemade holiday gift.