Kay Wheeler Moore

Welcome to my blog

Hello. . .

The Newfangled Country Gardener is for anyone who has a garden, would like to have a garden, or who simply enjoys eating the garden-fresh way. I don't claim to be an expert; in this blog I'm simply sharing some of the experiences my husband and I have in preparing food that is home-grown.

About the author

Kay Wheeler Moore is the author of a new cookbook, Way Back in the Country Garden, that features six generations of recipes that call for ingredients that are fresh from the garden. With home gardening surging in popularity as frugal people become more resourceful, this recipe collection and the stories that accompany it ideally will inspire others to cook the garden-fresh way and to preserve their own family food stories as well. The stories in this book center around the Three Red-Haired Miller Girls (Kay's mother and aunts) who grew up in Delta County, TX, with their own backyard garden so lavish that they felt as though they were royalty after their Mama wielded her kitchen magic on all that was homegrown. Introduced in Kay's previous book, Way Back in the Country, the lively Miller Girls again draw readers into their growing-up world, in which a stringent economic era--not unlike today's tight times--saw people turn to the earth to put food on the table for their loved ones. The rollicking yarns (all with recipes attached) have love, family, and faith as common denominators and show how food evocatively bonds us to our life experiences.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pecans aplenty (and overripe bananas as well) call for a spectacular dessert

One thing we always have plenty of is pecans. I see big bags of them for sale (at big prices) in the grocery store and realize how fortunate our home is to be surrounded by pecan trees so we never have to purchase any of these cherished nuts. If we ever had a pecan shortage at our house, my mother's home, which still is in the family although my mother is deceased, has at least half a dozen pecan trees just down the block from us. This year looks like a lean one pecan-wise, but not to worry: the freezer is stocked with bucketloads from last year's huge harvest to last us until the next big pecan deluge. (My dad used to say that pecans arrive in tandem: one year plentiful one year lean, the next year plentiful, followed by the next year lean; whether that is scientific I don't know, but his observations over nearly nine decades certainly bore out his beliefs.)

His pecan trees were my daddy's pride-and-joy. He loved picking the nuts off the ground, cracking them with his thumb, and eating the sweet nut meat right there on the spot. I must say that we especially share this sense of pride as we tend our prized paper-shell pecan tree, with nuts so sweet, they're a dessert in themselves. The paper-shell is a mixed blessing. Situated right up next to the house, the tree has droppings that cause my eyes to itch and my contact lenses to become unwearable for a time, but the rewards are great when the sweet paper-shell nuts are harvested.

A dessert we've been enjoying all week showcases those splendid pecans while it uses up some about-to-be-overripe bananas and some wheat bread slices that were nearing the end of the line. Banana-Pecan Streusel Bread Pudding, which I first saw as a recipe from the Better Homes & Gardens website, looks sinful but is made with the healthiest of ingredients. Topped with sugar-free whipped topping (ice cream is recommended, but no ice cream for us, since Hubby's six-month physical is right around the corner), Banana-Pecan Streusel Bread Pudding not only is a wonderful dessert but also makes a great (and guilt-free) breakfast dish.

Banana-Pecan Streusel Bread Pudding

1 (12-ounce) can fat-free evaporated milk
1 1/3 cups mashed ripe banana (about 4 medium)
3 beaten eggs (3/4 cup egg substitute)
1/2 cup sugar (or sugar substitute)
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups torn bread cubes (from whole-wheat bread that's at least a day old)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar (if using brown-sugar substitute, use 1/8 cup)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon margarine or butter, melted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans
sugar-free whipped topping (or ice cream)

Lightly grease a 2-quart rectangular baking dish; set aside. Stir together evaporated milk, banana, eggs, granulated sugar, vanilla, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and the almond extract. Place croissant pieces in prepared baking dish. Pour egg mixture evenly over torn bread pieces; press pieces down to be sure they are all moistened. In a small bowl combine brown sugar, flour, melted butter, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Stir in pecans. Sprinkle over bread mixture. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean. Let stand for 30 minutes. Serve warm. If desired, top with whipped topping or ice cream. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

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