This weekend, pecans. Candied and sticky, one batch then two and finally three.
The recipe was unearthed in a paleo cookbook months ago and I have, in many batches since, perfected them to the point of imperfection. I do this often, discovering an ideal recipe but in a mixture of laziness or self-expression or sheer lack of planning, I shift the ingredients ever so slightly until I cannot possibly remember its original intent or taste.
And so, I believe the actual recipe – for the lover of precision – calls for orange zest, ginger, arrowroot, sea salt and maple syrup and yet, somehow cinnamon and cloves have slowly crept in, with just a hint of honey on certain dreary Sunday afternoons.
Still, the process is the same. Toast raw, dry pecans for no more than five minutes, stirring often until you can smell them. Did you know you can smell pecans once toasted? You can. You must. Earthy, brown, dark.
Throw them directly into a large bowl with a bit of maple syrup, then sprinkle in dry ingredients. Be liberal with the orange zest, unless you’ve forgotten oranges at the grocery, and in that case they’ll taste much differently but still good, because after all, they are pecans. Mix, stir, mix, stir (I will never write a cookbook, will I?). Toddlers are especially gifted with this step. Leave them alone for a bit, stirring and imagining, while you pour yourself a fresh cup of coffee and avoid thinking about the resulting sticky fingers.
When properly mixed, when there is a hint of goodness on each piece, spread the pecans flat on parchment paper and let them rest for a bit. Give your toddler a bath – maple syrup will be between her toes, likely, for strange reasons – then return to the kitchen and sample your creations.
They will be finally lovely.
Package sweetly for neighbors, but save the largest portion for your husband – he cannot resist them – a small gift that says, “I’m thinking of you first, today. And tomorrow.”