Saturday, December 17, 2005

June's Sugared Christmas Pecans

I'll be baking this weekend, treats for family and friends, and one of the things I'll be making is a recipe for sugared pecans that I acquired from a woman I used to work with on Capitol Hill. June managed our four district offices, and she was a hoot. When I went to work in that office, she took me under her wing like a daughter and she made sure her charges gave me whatever I needed to work smoothly. She already had one office "daughter," and that was my best friend, Dee. Whenever we had to travel back to the State we represented, she would always have us stay in her home, and one year, when I had to be there just before Christmas, she made these sugared pecans as a special treat in honor of my visit. I was there with another coworker, Tim, and she spoiled us rotten, even though she was in the beginning of her declining health then.

June had a best friend named Marie and they had been friends forever. They knew each other so well, strengths and weaknesses, and they loved each other; two widowed women off having uproarious times. When Marie died, about a year before June, I knew just from talking with her that June's heart was broken. When Dee and I used to go out for drinks or dinner after work, we would usually wind up saying we'd be friends for life, and we would be exactly like June and Marie at their age, off having wild times and adventures and laughing our heads off.

Dee loved Christmas for all the right reasons. One night we had been out drinking and I took her to a house that was so over-the-top in decoration, I knew she would love it in all it's loud glaring vulgarity. We were a bit tipsy by the time we got there, and we stood out on the sidewalk to take pictures. Every time we saw one more thing on the house, tears would start rolling again, along with our roars of laughter. I knew the man who owned the house had a reputation of being a weird crank, and I had heard he had appeared to gawkers before, bearing a shotgun, so I kept trying to hush us down so we wouldn't be gazing down the end of a double barrel, but we couldn't stop laughing.

June had two stories that I loved that involved her friend, Marie. There was one main funeral home in the town where June and Marie lived, and one time the Congressman asked them to pop by and pay their respects to a constituent's family, only they had been to some reception just before and had a little too much to drink. When they got to the viewing, they walked up to the casket, then stood there, staring down at Joe Mosti and his distinctive nose. Looking down at the deceased, they began querying each other how the coffin lid would shut without smashing his nose, and they were so unconsious of others, they got into a heated debate about it. Another time, same funeral home, again drinking and popping in for an official visit, they walked up to the front of the parlor where the casket was and they started crying, remembering this person. At some point during their tears, they realized they were staring down at a stranger and that they were in the wrong viewing room, so then they started laughing hysterically at their mistake, and they were asked to leave.

June and Marie had a ton of shared history and stories, and Dee and I loved hearing them. Life has a way of playing tricks on you, and now when I hear women say, "We will be little old ladies together," I have to admit I wince in remembrance of saying the same thing to Dee. That was our big joke. One night we were out having drinks at a place on Pennsylvania Avenue, sitting side by side in the ladies room, and we started talking about how down the road we'd be out drinking, only with walkers and wheelchairs, and what a mess we would be.

Horribly eno
ugh both Tim and Dee passed on, way too young: both unexpected, both sudden, both within a year of each other, so I lost two people in my life that meant the world to me. Tim is the one I wrote about earlier on my blog that used to go out and watch planes land at National Airport with me. I was rooting around in a box of photographs this morning, trying to find this wonderful picture of June and Marie, but due to time constraints I had to give up. I did stumble on photographs of Dee and Tim, and I yanked those out to have on my desk so I can see them again. I was reading another person's blog the other day, and they talked about sending out drunk text messages to a friend that made no sense. When I read that I thought, "Yup. Sounds like what I would do with Dee."

This isn't meant to be a morbid piece, but rather a
remembrance of warm, vibrant people who bring joy to our lives. I hope you enjoy those you have during this holiday season. As promised, June's Sugared Christmas Pecans. I truly believe she and Marie are off somewhere, having more laughs.

June's Sugared Christmas Pecans

2 1/2 to 3 pounds pecans
1 stick of but
2 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon sal
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Melt butter on cookie sheet in the warm oven. Beat egg whites until foamy, gradually adding sugar, salt and vanilla. Beat until the egg whites form stiff peaks. Fold the pecans into the mixture, mixing well with a wooden spoon. Pour the mixture onto the buttered cookie sheet, and stir to coat the nut mixture with the butter. Bake for 40 minutes, but check the mix in the oven every ten minutes and stir, watching closely the last ten minutes to make the the pecans don't burn. Once done (or browned), remove pecans from the oven, let cool ten minutes, then shake in a bag with plenty of confectionery sugar. Store in sealed container.

Now, something silly in memory of June, Marie, Tim and Dee: WhiteTrashXmas*

* Thank you to friend Matt for sending me the link.


Blogger Megarita said...

This is a lovely tribute to hilarious friends. I'm sorry they can't be with you in person.

3:57 PM  
Blogger ThaiMex1 said...

Cube? Very touching piece about friends and good times. Allow their spirit to be with you always. They certainly would want you to revel in the joyous times and poo-poo the sad ones. Allow their friendships to be there like guardian angels on your shoulders laughing at the silly things in life.

6:49 PM  
Blogger always write said...

Well told, I feel like I knew them. Recipes are sometimes the purest way to keep someone's spirit alive. It's a way for us to literally carry their memory inside.

11:12 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Count yourself lucky to have had friends like these. You started me thinking about how I remember so many people from my little northern Florida town by a particular recipe they were known for -- there was Mary's chicken tetrazini, Margaret's chicken divan, Ruth's divinity, and Teeny's taffy. I hadn't thought about these people in years!

9:10 AM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

What is remembered, lives. Thank you.

10:16 AM  
Blogger Sub Girl said...

thats great that you have that recipe that will remain with you.

12:46 PM  
Blogger Chairborne Stranger said...

I love those pecans man!

Holy cow that biker picture was funny too LOL!!!

3:20 PM  
Anonymous John said...

This was an absoutely beautiful and touching tribute, and I got all misty-eyed thinking of my own loved-ones. Thank you for sharing it.

6:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BEVE said------- I did'nt think I'd get such a great jolt of good old laughter upon looking for a xmax pecan receipe { I just moved & could'nt locate mine} Laughing with you!!!!FOR SURE you ladies hang in there What a HOOT!!!!!!

9:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

drBEVE said------- I did'nt think I'd get such a great jolt of good old laughter upon looking for a xmax pecan receipe { I just moved & could'nt locate mine} Laughing with you!!!!FOR SURE you ladies hang in there What a HOOT!!!!!!

9:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just looking for pecan recipes and stumbled across you loving stories. A happy spot in an otherwise not happy day! Thanks for sharing your memories and your recipe. God's Peace...........

9:00 PM  

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