Friday, September 28, 2012

Pecan Brittle

I talked to my great-aunt Helen tonight and she shared with me her recipe for pecan brittle. (Her chiropractor makes it with almonds.) It was the best time and we had the nicest chat. It was bittersweet in a way b/c talking to her brought memories of my beloved Papaw flooding back to me. I was struck by how much she sounded like him on the phone, strange b/c she's lived in Ohio for many years and he lived in Arkansas. I did have a tear or two, but they were happy ones.
Anyway, it was so good for my soul to talk to her and listen to her way of cooking. I loved hearing the little details of the steps in ways you'll never find in any cookbook. It made me long in a very real way for my grandmothers and their recipes but, more than that, for that connection that comes when you start talking about food and recipes.
I love this sweet lady and it was such a delight to share our similar viewpoints on local vs. organic or margarine vs. butter. I was slightly anxious to message her (on FB no less!), but I thought, why not? I'm infinitely glad I called her and that we talked food for just a little while. I hope wherever you are, you have someone you can call to inherit a recipe like I did. There's something electrifying about someone saying, "Alright, you got a pencil and paper? This is how I make..." It may feel awkward or strange, but something I have repeatedly learned through all of this is that people feel flattered when you ask how they cook something and love to tell you. People love to share their recipes and their methods for cooking. It definitely connects us all and it's amazing where a conversation that begins with food can roam.
So I wish for you tonight to have a roaming talk that begins with food. My heart is much fuller tonight and my grocery list is a little longer for having talked to my great-aunt and I hope she's feeling more loved knowing her little niece called her up one Friday night to find out how to make brittle (and pot roast... and fry eggplant... and ...) I feel so spoiled now with new ideas to try.

ps. Here's the sweet story of where she originally got her recipe.

My great uncle taught at a local college and one year the secretary in his department made all the teachers this brittle for Christmas. It was wrapped in plastic wrap with a bow on top. My great-aunt said that her husband loved it so much, she called the lady up and asked for the recipe so she could make it for him. She's been making it every year since and makes so much at Christmas that she begins a month early. 
Isn't it comforting when the themes of good food and love intertwine themselves and the recipe becomes a living thing?  What began as a simple Christmas gift, establishes roots as a wife shows love to a husband. It branches as a mother makes her annual brittle for Christmas. It blossoms as family members connect over much time and distance. Someday they will intertwine again and hopefully sprout new seeds as I tell this story and share this recipe with my own sweet girl. 

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