Maggie is a lovely modern day southern belle that’s not afraid to get her hands dirty in the kitchen or off the land and authors FromMaggiesFarm. Forever gardening and creating magical dishes along side her soothing yet delectable photos from her daily discoveries and down home gems –– FromMaggiesFarm is a little oasis in the chaos of the fast paced Internet world. Maggie pulls at our heartstrings with her beautiful story about how Ruthie’s Pecan Pralines recipe came into her life –– trust me, you may need a tissue, but it’s worth the read! Seriously, after you’ve wiped a few tears away, it will make you want to grab your apron and reminisce about days of old –– it’s THAT good and perfect for this time of year. Visit FromMaggiesFarm to learn all about a day in the life –– from just WHO is Maggie? to the adventures of her two and four-legged friends to her virtual farm-stand loaded with fresh from the garden delights, free-range eggs, bakery treats and artisanal foods ––hellllloooo homemade Smoked Brisket Tamales (QUICK order yours TODAY!!!). Be sure to check back often at FromMaggiesFarm to see what’s growing and brewing on the farm and in the kitchen.
Pralines, that’s prahleens to some of you and prayleens, to others are a southern holiday staple, and versions can be found as they are in New Orleans and surrounding parts, golden and chewy, or crisp and opaque, like you’ll find crowded around the cashier stand in many Tex-Mex restaurants. I’ve taken liberties here, a crisp version adapted from a recipe for Mexican Pralines, substituting Lyle’s Golden Syrup for corn syrup, adding a little half and half, a little more butter, a little less water, and a hint of warm spiciness. I’ve never been much for leaving well enough alone.
These pralines, and all the other versions I’ve tried over the years at Christmas, are prepared in honor of the memory of my Granny Ruthie. You’ll find the recipe at the bottom of this story. It’s a long one, and if you’re short on time, perhaps you can save it for another day–maybe a quiet morning. With a warm cup of coffee. And a praline. And maybe a hankie.
Famously fastidious, my mother was due to pick us up from our Granny Ruth’s, or Ruthie, as her family affectionately called her, within the hour, and we had been scrubbed and polished and starched to perfection. Granny, who, if we’re being technical, was actually our step-grandmother, yet never treated us with any less love and affection than any of her grandchildren, had entertained us while our parents we’re on some kind of no-children-allowed venture. Upon our arrival there, we soon forgot being left behind because there were adventures to be had! Corners to explore! Why, there was a whole HOUSE in Granny’s backyard, and a door that went down into the ground–something called a cellar, which we’d only seen in The Wizard of Oz, and about which we’d always been so curious.
She also had two front doors, though only one of them had easy access. She had a glider on the front porch, she didn’t drive a car, her neighborhood was what we called downtown, there were sidewalks, and an ice cream man that pedaled his cart and announced his presence with no more than a bicycle bell. To my childlike-self, it was different. It was wonderful…
1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
a pinch, each, of cayenne pepper, and kosher salt
1 tbsp. Lyle’s Golden Syrup
1/2 stick unsalted butter
2 tbsp. half and half
3 tbsp. water
2 c. pecans, halves or pieces
In two quart saucepan, combine sugar, spices, syrup, butter, and half, and water. Bring to a boil. Add nuts and return to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium, and continue until candy reaches soft ball stage or 238 degrees. Remove from heat and stir rapidly until mixture begins to lose its gloss.
Quickly drop candy from tablespoon onto waxed paper and allow to harden. Makes about 24 small pralines, or 6 gigantic, sprawling, good-for-the-pause-that-refreshes, too-large-to-dunk-in-your-cup-of-afternoon-coffee, just-this-side-of-tummy-ache-sized holiday delights.
Thank you FromMaggiesFarm for sharing your delicious recipe and lovely story!