My grandparents had a large pecan tree in their backyard and it must have been a hundred years old. Summers in Louisiana are hot and in the fifties, no one had central heat and air. Most houses had window and ceiling fans, but they did little to cool the sweltering summer nights.
My family spent lots of time outdoors during the summers, not because they enjoyed swatting mosquitoes, but because it was cooler and more pleasant outside than indoors. My grandparents had a half-dozen or so lawn chairs and a garden swing beneath the giant pecan tree, and the family congregated there on many a summer night.
Grandpa’s pecan tree, it seems, produced tons of pecans every year and he always gave bushels to my mom and dad, and anyone else that asked. When I was young, my parents bought six mail-order pecan trees. None of the trees even came to my waist when Dad planted them.
Three of the pecan trees still survive. They are large, although none as big as Grandpa’s pecan tree, but they still produce tons of pecans. For years, while my parents still lived in Vivian, they gave us pound after pound of pecans, usually already shelled, thanks to my wonderful mother.
This past Thanksgiving, Marilyn used the very last bag of my parent’s pecans to bake a pie. Marilyn is a great cook and the pie was wonderful. When I asked her for the recipe, she informed me that it was in her head and sometimes changed, depending on the mood she is in when she bakes.
Here, instead, is a recipe from someone that is also a great cook and that knows firsthand how to make a great pecan pie – My Aunt Dot Pittman Pourteau. This recipe is from her cookbook All the Foods We’ve Loved Before.
Aunt Dot’s Southern Pecan Pie
3 eggs, beaten
2/3 cup sugar
Dash of salt
½-cup white Karo syrup
½ cup dark Karo syrup
1/3 cup butter, melted
1-cup pecans, chopped or whole
1 pie shell
Beat 3 eggs, thoroughly with sugar, salt, dark and light Karo Syrup, melted butter. Add one cup of pecan halves. Pour into 9” unbaked pie shell.
Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees) 50 minutes or until knife inserted halfway between center and edge comes out clean. Cool and enjoy.