It's pecan harvest time here at Meadow Knoll, and Bill has been busy--working hard to keep ahead of the squirrels. The trays in this photo contain nuts gathered from a single tree, and we have 20 bearing trees. They don't all produce as well as this one, but all together, it's a good year for pecans.
Bill grafted these trees, on native stock planted here and there by squirrels, floods, and other random acts of a kind and generous nature. He chose the natives for their sturdiness and location, and grafted them with scions (graftwood cut from the previous season's growth of a productive tree) of different cultivars: Choctaw, Desirable, Kiowa, Dobie. They usually bear in alternate years, but the drought confused them and they're out of sync.
Still, this year is a good year and there are plenty of nuts. Bill gathers them; we settle in front of the TV for a shucking party; and then he takes the nuts to a guy in Bertram who cracks/shells them for us. We store them in the freezer--they keep well until the next crop.
All of which means plenty of pecan pies, naturally, like this one I baked yesterday.
Bill's Absolute All-Time Favorite Pecan Pie
1 cup dark corn syrup (if you use light, use brown sugar)
1 cup sugar (brown sugar, if you have light corn syrup)
4 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons bourbon (rum, if you'd rather)
1-1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 (9-inch) unbaked pie shell
Mix ingredients in order listed. Pour into pie shell. Bake 10 minutes at 425 degrees, 40 minutes at 325. We like this warm, with ice cream.
Reading note, from Calvin Trillin, American Fried (a collection of his newspaper columns from the 1970s):
When it came to poetry, my father was not an absolutist. Pie was his favorite subject for a couplet, but every three or four weeks he would write about something else—perhaps a couplet like
"'Eat your food,' gently said Mom to little son Roddy.
'If you don't, I will break every bone in your body.'"
The next day he would be back to pies --
"Mrs. Trillin's pecan pie, so nutritious and delicious
Will make a wild man mild and a mild man vicious."