From the Publisher's Desk: From soup to nuts – celebrate the harvest

By Michele Grgas Thomas The Triplicate January 28, 2011 03:25 pm

Do you believe the weather we had Saturday? It was a faux spring day but appeared so genuine that I had to put on my gardening gloves. I was thrilled to find young lettuce leaves thriving, seeded, no doubt, by last fall’s bolting plants. In the corner of one raised bed I found green sprouts about four inches above the ground. When I got close I could smell the garlic. Next to my three “adult” artichoke plants, I saw a “baby” poking through the compost.

I was so inspired by the rejuvenation in my garden, I got out some seeds I bought at the end of last season and planted three kinds of lettuce. Rick and I celebrated the summery day by thawing strawberries and blueberries we squirreled away last summer and tossing them with yogurt for a sweet lunch treat.

For dinner I put the last of our homegrown carrots and potatoes in a pot with our canned tomatoes, frozen green beans (from the farmers market) and made a soup that tasted earthy and fresh. We ate our way through the weekend with foods we canned or froze or put away, and it made me, if only for a weekend, feel like someone who actually lived off the land.

While I was foraging in our freezer, I was reminded of the woman I met at the Coast Guard Auxiliary Change of Watch Ceremony the week before. I accompanied Rick who is public affairs officer not just for our local Flotilla, but for the entire division (which stretches from Mendocino to the Oregon border). Rick was in uniform talking to other Auxiliary members while he waited for lunch in the buffet line. I was randomly taking photos of people filling their plates. A woman in line introduced herself. She told me she enjoyed my column, especially when I shared recipes, and she was sure hoping to see a recipe for roasted chestnuts one of these days.

Well, I don’t really have that one, I’m afraid. I remember my dad sitting in his recliner with a bowl of chestnuts on his lap. He took out his pocket knife and slit an “X” on the flat side of each one. He tossed them in olive oil, put them on a cookie sheet and baked them in the oven. Don’t know the temperature, don’t know for how long. But I do know they tasted yummy.

However, I do have a nut recipe I can offer up as a substitute. I found it when I was looking for a way to use up all the pecans occupying precious real estate in my freezer. I have a source — “the nut guy” —who brings pecans to Crescent City once a year. Last year I overdid it and purchased six pounds when I hadn’t even used up all my pecans from the year before.

This recipe is easy and these candied pecans are great in salads or as an appetizer. In our house, they’re dessert. I’ve made them several times and they always turn out the same – delicious!

Candied Pecans

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

2/3 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon hot smoked paprika

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 lb. pecans

Beat one egg white (at room temperature) with 1 tablespoon water, until frothy.

Whisk together sugars, salt, paprika and cinnamon.

Pour nuts into egg white and coat thoroughly, then sprinkle sugar mixture over pecans and stir making sure all nuts are covered

Spread in single layer on cookie sheet that’s been covered with parchment paper

Bake 30 minutes at 300 degrees, stirring occasionally

Remove from oven, put parchment paper with nuts on rack to cool and separate any clusters

Reach Michele Thomas, The Daily Triplicate’s publisher, at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it , 464-2141, or stop by 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.