Friday, December 4, 2009

Crows Ate My Pecan Pie

So, being a Southerner, love of pecan pie is part of my heritage. It's one of the things I really miss from before the low-carb Atkins days, and when I'm back home in Arkansas I try to go by the Magnolia Bake Shop and pick up at least one of their little (tart-sized) pecan pies. There are plenty of high-carb recipes that can be re-created in low (or at least lower) carb versions, but the corn syrup (=liquid sugar) plus the high-carb crust that make up two of the three essential ingredients of pecan pie had me stymied.

So, when Janice suggested I try it with Tupelo honey instead of corn syrup, I thought that had real possibilities. I made a low-carb (ground nut) crust, replaced the corn syrup that makes up the bulk of the pie with diabetic-friendly honey, and laid on the pecans on top with a generous hand. Since I wasn't sure how well the honey mixture would set compared with the corn syrup, I made them in tart form in little clear bowls rather than a whole pie (less messy to eat if it came out runny).

The results? Golden Honey Pecan Pie. Pretty good for a first effort: looked and tasted pretty much like pecan pie, but with a distinct dark yellow rather than brown coloration and an aftertaste of honey. So, discovery number one: it's possible to pull this off, though the recipe needs refining. Discovery number two: wow, these things are filling. Next time I should use smaller bowls (maybe the ramekins) so each individual serving is about half this size.

Unfortunately, having made them before Thanksgiving and then shortly afterwards being strickened with flu (which in my case mainly hit the stomach and, shall we say, digestion), I realized today that the two remaining ones have been sitting out on the counter for a week and a half. Having just recovered from stomach distress I didn't want to risk their having started to go bad, but just throwing them out seemed a pity. So, seeing how eager the birds have been the past few days for edibles in these first cold days of hard frost in the morning,* I decided to give them to our fine feathered friends (thinking that scavengers like crows wd have stomaches better suited to deal with any potential problems). First I pulled out all the pecans, washed them off, and chopped them up, thinking that these at least would be welcome. Then I scooped out the gooey center and crumbled ground-nut crust and decided why not? Put them on the other side of a little plate from the nuts and placed it on the ground out back beneath the suet feeder.

An hour later it was all gone. First came the chickadees and the juncos, but I also saw a flicker hanging round and, not long afterwards, a crow flying away from the empty dish. So I did the same with the second tart-pie. And sure enough, when I next checked back the little plate was bare once again.

And that's not even taking into account the goldfinches, juncos, chickadees, and red wing blackbirds (and yesterday a pigeon!) visiting the balcony itself. My work here is done.
For now.

--John R.

*just yesterday morning I'd been horrified to find little drops of frozen blood in the frost atop the balcony railing by our finch feeder. I assume the sudden frost of the night before had damaged one or more little bird's feet, though it seemed clear that whatever had been hurt had been able to move around a good deal. Also the two hummingbird feeders had been frozen, so I microwaved one a bit and cleaned out the other and filled it with fresh hummingbird juice (and was rewarded by seeing a hummingbird at it within a few minutes).
One good thing to come of this, though, was that I put out more finch food than usual to give them a little extra energy against the cold. Which meant I no longer had enough to make it all the way to the weekend. Which meant I had to drive over to Wild Birds Unlimited in Burien and buy some more Finch Mix, during which I got to pet their resident cat, Miss Millie.
On the way back, saw a hungry-looking hawk in a bare tree not too far from here, which made me wonder if on second thought the blood-drops might not have been from a raptor-strike at our feeder. No feathers though.

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