Mary Land and Pepper Pecans

pepper-pecansParties and family gatherings abound this time of year, and we’re faced with the same question each time we begin to ponder what we will bring.  That is, whether to rely on an “old reliable” recipe or come up with something new.  The only problem with trying something new is whether or not it will be “fit to eat”, as my Great Grandmother Addie liked to say back in the day.

But who has time to test recipes during the busiest holiday season of the year?  Nobody.  That’s who, so let me do the hard part for you.  I will be presenting to you a 2016 twist on some very old, yet simple recipes published in 1954 by LSU Press in a book titled, Mary Land’s Louisiana Cookery. Lest I be accused of plagiarism, I will slightly tweak each recipe to make it only slightly different, but the heart of these kitchen-proofed recipes of Mary Land’s (and other she does not name in her book), remains the same.  

louisiana-cookery1Louisiana Cookery has become a treasure that now takes up permanent residence on my bookcase headboard, where I refer to it whenever I want to remind myself about this amazing woman of days gone by and to be inspired by her writing, her cooking, and her love of the outdoors.

Several years ago, while searching for a book by a Louisiana author about his experiences after Hurricane Katrina, I was drawn to a book titled Louisiana Women, by Karen Leathem, and felt compelled to order it. When the book arrived in the mail, I had forgotten about making the impulse purchase.  Later that night, I crawled into bed with my reading glasses and my new book.

Enthralled by the book, I read chapters about fascinating Louisiana women until my eyelids drooped; but when I came across the chapter about Mary Land, sleep stepped aside while the 1940s and ’50s beckoned me to step back in time.  Wide awake, I read on about this woman, who I came to see as a foreshadow of myself (please excuse the narcissism) and a kindred spirit and mentor of whom I wasn’t even aware.  How could it be I’d never heard of this woman whose life mine seems to parallel some 60 years later?  

Photo Courtesy of Newcomb Archives, Newcomb College Institute of Tulane University

Through the words on those pages, the parallel lines between Mary and me became evident and drew me closer and closer to this woman I would never get to know on this earth. Her first published works were books of poetry in the 1930s, and in 1940 she went to work for the La. Department of Conservation. After a few years, she began writing articles about fish and game for the Louisiana Conservation Review, including fish and game recipes. After getting her feet wet with the Review, Mary wrote articles for other outdoor magazines and eventually, as co-author with Arthur Van Pelt, wrote an outdoor column for the New Orleans Times-Picayune. She was then invited to join the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association (LOWA), where she was the only female member.

Like Mary, I am a member of LOWA and have been for 11 years and still remain one of only a handful of female members. If, in this new millennium, I am the minority in a predominantly male field of outdoor journalists, how much more so was Mary Land the minority in the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s?  It appears the balance in outdoor journalism hasn’t changed much in 70 years.  Nonetheless, let’s move onto more parallels, shall we?

Unlike Mary, my first book wasn’t poetry but a children’s picture book that was written and published before any other of my writing.  Next, 50 years after Mary’s first article for the Louisiana Conservationist Review, I  had an article published in the same magazine. From there, I’ve gone on to write outdoor articles and natural history pieces for various magazines, just like Mary did.  Following in her footsteps, just this year my writing has expanded to include an outdoor column for a newspaper

As I continued to read Leathem’s piece, more similarities appeared.  If you’ve spent any time browsing this blog, you know that I’m a strong advocate for women in the outdoors.  The next parallel has to do with that desire to teach and empower women.  When I started my fishing charters back in 2008, my hook was “teaching women to fish in a comfortable, non-intimidating setting”. According to Leathem, “In 1940, after noting that only five percent of Louisiana fishing licenses went to women, Mary wrote this in the Louisiana Conservationist Review: 

‘Women think, for some inane reason, that fishing is a man’s sport.  This misconception has been planted in the female mind for generations. . . A man will make a kill, guzzle his bottle of brew, and blindly head homeward; a woman will be satisfied with one small perch and linger in the infinitesimal loveliness of the bloom on the Spanish moss or the haunting song of a rain crow at dusk.’

How right she was.  Mary is also recorded as having instructed women in one of her articles to wait until their husbands went out of town for the weekend before they raided the tackle box or practiced their casting in the backyard.  I regret not much seems to have changed in my lifetime.  Women I teach to fish on my boat, excited to hone their casting skills, still wait for their husbands to leave the house before practicing their casting in the backyard.  It’s become a running joke, but it’s probably more truth than fiction.

Just as Mary found a mentor in Arthur Van Pelt, I’ve found a mentor in Don Dubuc of “Outdoors with Don Dubuc” radio network.  Additionally, he writes for newspapers, magazines, the Internet, and produces a TV show called “Paradise Louisiana”.  Just like Arthur Van Pelt, Don is a lifelong member of LOWA and a past president of the organization.  Don took me under his wing four years ago, as Arthur took Mary under his wing, which leads me to one thing that Mary accomplished in her career, which I have not yet accomplished.  

She wrote and published her cookbook based on her love of and experience in fishing, hunting, and the outdoors.  Since I publish recipes here on this blog, maybe I don’t need to publish a cookbook?  In the age of Google, are cookbooks going out of style?  Why waste the time and paper?  I think Mary would be delighted to stumble across this blog and find revised recipes from her 1954 cookbook, especially if they were posted by an outdoor woman.  Reckon?

The last thing that I want to mention in regard to this remarkable woman, my kindred spirit of days gone by, is that Leathem’s article doesn’t mention whether or not Mary was ever the president of LOWA. Regardless, after I finished reading the article, I decided right then and there that I would do my best to become the President of LOWA and in so doing, I would honor her memory and her legacy as one of the very first Louisiana female outdoor journalists. 

Meanwhile, I’m going through her Louisiana Cookery for the umpteenth time, picking and choosing recipes to share with you between now and the New Year.  I will test as many of them as I can beforehand and share the favorites here with you.

bushel-1aHow about those pecans?  I picked up that half-a-bushel in no time from the one tree at Camp Dularge.  I used them in this recipe, and now I’m going to send a lucky reader a packet of fresh pecan halves.  All you have to do is leave a comment below. (Not on Facebook!!  Right on this page, please!)

Until next recipe . . . .
BW

 

 

pepper-pecans-2
Print
Pepper Pecans
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
25 mins
 
Quick and easy holiday snack
Author: Bayou Woman
Ingredients
  • 2 Cups pecan halves
  • 1/2 Stick of butter
  • 1 tsp . Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2-3 dashes of Louisiana hot sauce any brand
  • 1/8 tsp . White pepper
  • 1/8 tsp . Cajun seasoning
  • 1/8 tsp . Garlic salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees
  2. Melt butter in heavy skillet, add Worcestershire, hot sauce and stir
  3. Add pecans and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring well to coat with sauce

  4. Meanwhile, mix dry ingredients in small bowl
  5. Put pecans on baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, stir around, bake another 10 min.
  6. Remove from oven and sprinkle pecans with dry seasonings OR
  7. Put them in a zip-lock bag or jar, add seasonings, and shake.
  8. Serve warm.
Recipe Notes

This recipe is easily adaptable:
You may substitute Cayenne for white pepper, if you like more spice
You may use any Cajun seasoning you prefer
You may use plain salt rather than garlic salt.
Easily doubled

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

Mary Land and Pepper Pecans — 22 Comments

  1. Sounds good! But don’t put me in the running for pecans. We have picked up about 70 or 80 lbs and one tree isn’t falling yet, a second one is about half done and one is finished. I spent 2 1/2 hrs today picking up 2 gallons and then cleaning and cracking 1 1/2 gallons! I pick them out at night while I watch TV. So far, I’ve put four, 2 lb bags in the freezer plus used 2 lbs at Thanksgiving. And each of the kids got a bag.
    I’m looking forward to those recipes. I do have a ’50s, Louisiana cookbook. I’ll have to dig it out and see who the authors were.

  2. Tweaking is always a good thing. That recipe needs only the addition of Chex and pretzel sticks to transform it to the classic party mix.

    Another variation might be to add a little brown sugar after they are baked, but still warm.

  3. We always made what were called Swedish nuts. Those involved butter and egg whites, and sweet spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove, but they were baked, too, and usually lasted about two hours once people realized another batch had been made!

    ‘Tis the season, for sure. I’m going to try to cut back on the baking a bit this year, but these would make a great, easy food gift. Thanks for posting the recipe!

  4. This type of cooking can’t be found anywhere but our Louisiana. Living in northern La. Is not the same as southern. I miss my childhood and all the great people and food to be had. Memories are all I have now and I try to instill them in my grandchildren.Thanks for always making my day

    • Hi Connie and welcome. You are so right to instill those memories and nuances of the past to your grandchildren. So, so valuable to the culture and way of life, not to mention a continuation in the family! Good for you! Thanks for stopping by and for leaving such a great comment!

  5. I enjoy your blog. Although I now live in Tennessee, my roots are in Louisiana. A big pot of chicken, sausage and okra gumbo is simmering on my stove right now. Love Louisiana cooking!

    • May I have some, please? 🙂 Welcome, Debra, and thanks so much for dropping by. There’s just nothing like Louisiana cooking, is there? Merry Christmas!

    • We think alike! I purchased the ingredients for a pot of chicken, sausage and okra gumbo Saturday. Then discovered today that I am out of file’!! No matter what type of gumbo I make, I want file’ on it.

      I have been shelling pecans since a week or so before Thanksgiving and just putting them in qt. and gal. bags before putting in refrigerator freezer. I had so many in it they were falling out when I opened the door so today, I measured them all out and put them 4 cups at a time in vacumn sealed bags. They are now in the outside freezer. 9 bags of them!! And my toes are thanking me. I still have 4 gallons to crack and shell and a lot more on the ground.

      • I put them up in 2 Cup batches and came out with 17 bags, but there are plenty of more pecans on the ground . We’ve had rain for two days now, so they will need to dry out either before or after I’ve picked them up. I’m waiting for the rain to stop before I attempt a new praline recipe by Mary Land. We all know pralines won’t set up in warm, humid conditions. It’s cold enough right now but still too damp. I no longer have a deep freezer, so vacuum sealing is necessary to save space! I love my vacuum sealer!

  6. Great story. Talk about serendipity. Have you reached out to Karen Leathem in any way to let her know about this? I admire your goal to become president of LOWA. Something tells me you will do just that and also set up a Mary Land prize of some sort. All the best to you this holiday season, Wendy.

    • Yes, some major serendipity. No, I didn’t reach out to her. I wonder if I should? Well, you know me pretty well, but I can’t reveal all my secrets here for the whole wide world to read!!! But when things happen, y’all will be sure to be informed! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  7. It’s time for the random drawing for the pecans. And the winner is: Comment No. 4, and that would be Margie S. Congratulations, Margie! I will email you to let you know you’ve won! Next pecan recipe coming shortly! Merry Christmas! BW

    • Everyone is getting kind of late to this post . . . not sure why, though. I just did the drawing and already gave the pecans away. So sorry everyone didn’t get to comment in time for the drawing. thanks for the kind words. Hope all is well in Shreveport, and have a very Merry Christmas!

    • Hi Marilyn,
      The pecan prize has already been awarded. And I have some in my freezer for future use!
      Thanks for stopping by and come by any time.

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