We are preparing for a big feast this week! I love big feasts, don’t you? This year, the cottage will be full to the rafters with family and friends. We’ve got some love and romance going on, some big challenges, and some adventure, too. We have very interesting guests…artists and stylists, lawyers and builders, IT execs and foodies, and one special little boy. When they all arrive on Friday, we’ll share a big welcome dinner, and the conversations will go on into the wee hours, fueled by tall tales, much laughter, and proper measures of Southern whiskey. I am thankful for many things this year, but most especially for the fact that we will all be together.
Saturday is when we will celebrate Thanksgiving. We’ve been catching up on chores and tidying up the garden. But mostly I’ve been cooking. While we will prepare most of our feast with fresh ingredients on Friday and Saturday, we have prepared a few things ahead of time. Since the crew will be here for the whole weekend, we have a lot of cooking to do! We’ve already made ginger and garlic breakfast sausage to go along with our farm-fresh eggs and homemade jams. And last night we made a big batch of chicken sausage seasoned with farmers’ market Roma tomatoes, dry red wine, and sweet basil and garlic from the garden. Hot-smoked over applewood chunks on the grill, I’ll serve the smoky sausage alongside baked penne pasta seasoned with the same ingredients, boosted up with a red wine vinaigrette and some great feta cheese.
To make things really festive for our big feast, I made party favors! I think grownups enjoy party favors just as much as children, don’t you? The gentlemen will be gifted with homemade smoked jalapeno salt composed of Kosher salt, Demerara sugar, our own smoked jalapenos, dried onion, and other herbs and spices. The jalapeno salt is perfect for dry-rubbing pork chops, chicken or steaks before they are thrown on the grill. The ladies will receive wonderful sweet and crunchy candied pecans. The pecans are so easy and quick to make, that I’m quite happy to share the recipe with you. These little tidbits of delight, made with just-harvested pecans from our local groves, are addictive. So make a double-batch! Not only are they good to eat straight from the jar, but they are excellent atop a salad of baby lettuces with Maytag blue cheese and tart green apple, dressed in a cider vinaigrette. Packaged up in Ball jars and tied with raffia and silver cord, the party favors will serve as place tags on the Thanksgiving table. I love the idea that our guests can take a little taste of Cowlick Cottage Farm home with them.
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
- In a mixing bowl, whip together the egg white and water until frothy. In a separate bowl, mix together sugar, salt, and cinnamon.
- Add pecans to egg whites, stir thoroughly to coat the nuts evenly. Pour the sugar mixture over the nuts, and toss them in the sugar mixture until coated. Spread the nuts out on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour. Stir every 15 minutes.