Roasted Pecans

Roasted Pecans

At my house during the holidays, expect to find small nut bowls of roasted pecans and chocolate candy placed where family and friends can enjoy them while they “visit.” Although my family dearly loves roasted pecans enough to want them all year, we do not acquire pecans until they are freshly harvested in the Fall and early Winter. Hint: Commercial pecan growers offer tempting sales in the summer to rid themselves of the older, drier pecans that they stored from the previous harvest.

Did you know that the pecan is the only original North American edible nut? The Colonials learned about it from the Algonquin natives, who called the nuts “pacane,” which meant “crack the shell, then eat the nut.” I wonder how pacane was pronounced, because there are differences in how people pronounce the word pecan. I am particularly amused by folks who imagine that there is either a “U” or a “W” in the spelling. I offer a “made up word” for them: “stophisticated.”

The Algonquin natives gathered pacanes from pecan groves, which were stands of trees in the wild. The nuts tended to be smaller and distinct in flavor. Web search varieties of pecans and you should find several named for tribes of North American natives, most of whom had connections with the Algonquin nation. I remember having access to wild pecans grown on my Grandfather’s farm. The nuts were small, but very tasty. The region was located in Northwestern South Carolina, where the Cherokee and Blackfeet tribes once roamed.

Alas, unless you can find a local source, most likely you will get your pecans from a major grower who emphasizes size and ease of opening the shell over taste and variety. Expect to see the words “mammoth” and “meaty” in their pecan descriptions. Don’t be frightened. Buy them during harvest season and roast them anyway!

I like the simple recipe: Place shelled pecan halves in a bowl. Pour melted butter over them. Sprinkle sea salt onto them. Use a spoon to get the salt and butter to stick to the pecans. Place the buttered, salted pecan halves onto a foil-lined cookie sheet. Pre-heat your oven to Bake at 325 degrees. The bake setting will roast your pecans. Get them out of the oven after ten minutes.” The delicious aroma will tempt you to nibble, but take care: They are hot right out of the oven. Don’t call them “puhcawns.”

The Christian Bible mentions pistachio nuts and almonds, but not pecans. In the Old Testament, the Bible does mention roasting as a cooking method that pleases God. Web Search Leviticus 2:14. In that verse, Moses passes an instruction to the newly freed Hebrews that it will please God if they would offer him the roasted kernels of fresh grain (the best) before they feed themselves. God was visibly with Moses and the Hebrew people for a long time (during the 40 years after they fled Egypt). God used Moses as a scribe to write and explain his relationship with mankind and to wake up the current generation of the sons and daughters of Abraham to who they were and what they were expected to do. Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament of the Christian Bible.

When you pull your roasted pecans out of the oven, close your eyes; smell the intoxicating fragrance of roasted pecans. Realize that God made us in his image. Is it a stretch to believe that he would love that fragrance too?

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