November 30, 2014

IMG_1513Dear friends,

The holidays are upon us. There’s no turning back. There are a few sure ways to make it the jolliest time of the year. And I’ll tell you about that in just a moment. And about some excellent spiced sugared pecans. But first…. let me help you get a special gift for someone on your list.

How about a signed copy of Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry? I’m going to be signing and selling and shipping out a limited number of books. Order before December 10 and I’ll mail the book to you or to your giftee. Send me an email  (mrswheelbarrow AT gmail DOT com) with your request, tell me what the inscription should say or who it is going to,  and the mailing address. I’ll send you a $40. invoice ; payments may be made via Paypal. The books are $35 and USPS media mail shipping is a flat $5.

Now, back to the holidaze. Shake it up. Decide to be happy. Enjoy the season. Go for a drive to see the light displays. Heat up some apple cider with cinnamon, cloves, lemon and orange peel and sip it while tucked into your favorite chair. Okay. Add some rum. Or brandy. Call an old friend. Send holiday cards to people you never see.IMG_1507Have a party. Impromptu or planned to the nines, just do some entertaining. Open some jars if you have ’em. Definitely open some bottles, if you do that sort of thing. Have nibbles. Don’t worry about perfection. Tidy up, even if that means throwing everything in a closet/room/car and hiding it temporarily. Turn down the lights. Put on some cheesy holiday music. If you have twinkle lights, now is the time to drape them over something, preferably a tree. Even a large houseplant will do. Open your home. Open your heart.

Also, while I’m doling out advice, I want you to get out and go to those holiday parties you’ve been invited to. I know. It’s late. You’re tired. You’re wondering why. Because you just never know who you might meet. What you might taste. What you might see or learn. Be a good guest. Have a few stories to tell, things to talk about. Perhaps a news item you read, a book you loved, or a movie you have seen. And carry a gift to your host.

IMG_1503These pecans will carry you through either situation: hosting or guesting. And they are quick to make, pretty as a picture in a jar or a gift bag.

Wishing you a very happy holiday.


Spiced Sugared Ginger Pecans
I’ve gently adapted a recipe from Martha Stewart.
Makes 3 gift bags

2-1/2 pounds pecan halves
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Heat the oven to 325°F. Spread the pecans out on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake the nuts until fragrant, about 12 minutes.

In a wide, large skillet heat the honey, oil and water until simmering. Add the pecans and stir well and thoroughly until well coated. Continue to cook until the skillet is dry and the nuts have absorbed the honey mixture.

Mix the sugar, ginger, thyme and cayenne in a large bowl. Add the honey coated pecans, leaving the parchment on the baking sheet and keeping it at the ready. Toss the honeyed nuts in the sugar mixture until well coated then spread the nuts out on the baking sheet.

Let them cool thoroughly before packing in jars or gift bags.


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