I don’t consider myself a tolerant person. There are certain things I will never feel comfortable with. Violence in all its forms, and war in particular, is one of those instances where I am unapologetically closed-minded. I am not a moderate person in my beliefs, and I think that’s alright. Necessary, even.
Nevertheless, it is undeniable that traveling the world opens your eyes and broadens your views, to some extent. Back home, I never thought I could be friends, true friends, with someone who supported the idea of war. Imagine my surprise when, in Pennsylvania, my best friend turned out to be an aspiring marine. We used to have long, heated debates over coffee about those things that should have brought us apart. I never understood his reasoning. I think he never understood mine either. But last week we cooked paella and drank wine together. It’s been an 8-year friendship.
Well, there are exceptions to every rule, you might think. Let’s fast forward four years, when I moved to Arkansas. There, my sort of “adoptive” family had some members fighting in Afghanistan and several veterans, whom they fully supported. Actually, they even took me to shoot guns. This is the family who helped me through some dark moments when my actual family was miles and miles away, the one that invited me to Thanksgiving, the one that came to see my debut in college theater, the one that took me to the airport when the time came to say farewell.
And also the one who gave me this pecan pie recipe.
My history with pecan pie is one of prejudice as well. When I lived in the Deep South, I would see these pieces of cake in bakeries and the school cafeteria. I wouldn’t dare to try it. It looked disturbing –actually, my grandma calls it “cockroach pie.” One day, however, after months and months of neglecting this dessert, I came a little late to the cafeteria and I could choose between this odd-looking thing or a plain oatmeal cookie. The cookie was the safe choice, but boring. I’ve had so many cookies in my life.
Being the utter sweet-tooth that I am, leaving without dessert was never on the table, and I tried the pecan pie. It became my favorite pie ever –my mom’s lemon meringue aside, of course.
Just like my good friend back in Pennsylvania. Just like my second family in Arkansas.
I still feel conflicted, I am not going to lie, about loving so dearly these people who stand for things with which I rabidly disagree. But tasting that buttery pecan filling reminds me of the tender hugs of those amazing human beings who treated me with affection, respect and generosity when I needed it the most, despite our blatant dissent.
We will be coming back to this crust for sure because it is the one I use in almost all of my pies.
- 1 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
- 1 stick of unsalted butter, cut into little cubes
- 3 tablespoons of very cold water
- 2 teaspoons of sugar
- A pinch of salt
I place the flour, sugar, and salt in a large crystal bowl, forming the shape of a volcano. I put the butter on the crater, and start kneading, mixing the water little by little. The more you knead the dough, the flakier it will become.
I let it rest on the fridge for a while and then placed it into a 9-inch oven mold, buttered and covered in flour so that the crust doesn’t stick.
Pecan pie filling
- 1 cup chopped pecans, ground with a food processor
- 1 cup of brown sugar
- 1/2 cup of white sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 stick of butter, melted
- 1 1/2 tablespoon of all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons of condensed milk
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
Just blend it all. No need to whip, beat, whisk, and whatnot. Just gently blend all the ingredients with a wooden spoon, enjoy the sound and the smell, take it easy. Once the mixture is homogeneous, pour it into the pie crust. Then decorate with pecan halves, the usual pattern is a spiral.
Bake it for around an hour in an oven pre-heated to 300 ºF or 150 ºC. And don’t let prejudice prevent you from appreciating this wonderful southern delight.