Pecans- truly a family tradition.

A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of going down to Savannah, Georgia, for the National Pecan Shellers spring meeting.  It was a lot of fun, and it was also very informative.  The one thing that has always struck me about this small (in comparison to other tree nuts) industry is that the majority of the people in attendance, as I, have grown up in the business of pecans.  Pecans, like country music, truly are as Hank Jr. would say, “A Family Tradition.”

Also, like the country music industry, the pecan industry is changing.  Some of the changes are great.   The processing of pecans has certainly come a long way.  What used to take a week or so, is now done in a day’s time.  Gone are the days when families would sit by the radio in the evenings and shell pecans.  This is the way my grandfather shelled pecans for our company back in the early Twenties.  He would take pecans around to the different houses and leave them a sack of nuts.  Then, he would go back and pick up the shelled nuts.  However, for small shellers like my family (a little over a million pounds of pecans shelled this past season), those changes are coming with considerable cost.  I was really touched by the passion in the voices and struck also by the sadness of those, like us,  who feel like we no longer have a voice or a “dog” left in the fight. Why? Because like my dad and uncle who own our company, it is all they have ever known, and the changes ahead can’t help but have an impact on our family’s business and theirs.

Let’s be honest.  America was founded by those who dared to dream of a better life-  those men and women who did not sit ideally by and let their futures be dictated by the monarchy of their motherland.  However, to me, and granted I am no business genius (don’t pretend to be) or economist, I feel like that is exactly what is happening to the small, family pecan processors and their companies. Our voices have been quieted.  Now, there are lots of arguments both for and against these changes.  And, I am not so closed minded to not see that lots of people will perhaps benefit from the changes (at least that is of what many are trying to convince themselves) . However again, at what cost. And let us not forget China’s involvement.  I am thrilled that the Chinese have discovered and enjoy consuming pecans, but that one variable is huge.  Cause no business degree or not, I understand the very basic of any business- supply and demand. This has caused in-shell pecan prices to soar, and has left the “little guy” plenty sore!  Enough of all that business stuff. It is depressing.

There are many families that my parents and uncle and aunt have grown very close to from this association.  These are the kind of friends that you may only see once or twice a year, but when you do get together, it is like no time has passed. These friends who come from different parts of the country. The kind of friend that you would call for help if need be, and they would be willing to do what they could to help you. (and they have) To me, that is the greatest gift of this business and other small family businesses.  The stories they can tell, and do.  They are priceless. You wouldn’t believe them unless you heard them first hand.  It is my hope that the stories will continue, and that maybe one day my children, nieces, nephews, or cousins will be a part of the new stories and that the pecan industry will continue to be a “Family Tradition.”

A picture is worth……….

You hear it all the time that a picture is worth a thousand words.  Well, I thought I would let this entry speak volumes.  The pictures were taken by Heather Harvey from Knoxville, Tennessee.  What a talented young lady!

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So, who is ready for some pecan pie or pecan tarts?

2 Great Desserts for the 4th of July

Ice Cream, Pound Cake, and the 4th of July

America is the land of the free and the brave. We are a proud nation filled with tradition. One such tradition is celebrating The Fourth of July with family, friends, fun, and of course, food. These two dessert recipes are absolutely delicious, and you would be proud to serve them at any celebration.

Butter Pecan Ice Cream

Ice Cream Assortment In White Bowls

Total Time: 5 hours

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Serves about 15

Ingredients:

 Ice Cream:

2 cup(s) whole milk

1 1/2 cup(s) brown sugar

4 egg yolks

Pinch of salt

2 tablespoon(s) unsalted butter

2 cup(s) half-and-half

2 cup(s) whipping cream

2 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract

 

  Butter Roasted Pecans:

1 cup pecans, chopped

salt to taste

3 tablespoon(s) salted butter

 

Directions:

   Prepare Ice Cream: In a medium saucepan, whisk together milk, brown sugar, egg yolks, and salt. Place pan over medium-high heat until mixture reaches a simmer. Lower heat to medium and whisk mixture for 5 minutes or until it begins to thicken. Strain mixture into a large bowl and whisk in butter until combined; then incorporate half-and-half, cream, and vanilla. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.

   Butter and Salted Pecans: Take three teaspoons of salted butter and melt it in the microwave, mix it with pecan pieces. Place pecan pieces on a cookie sheet. In an oven preheated to 350 degrees, bake the pecan pieces for 5 minutes. Watch them carefully!!! Allow them to cool. (Can be made a day ahead.)

Pour ice cream mixture into ice-cream maker; process according to manufacturer instructions. Once ice cream’s made, stir in reserved pecans.

 

close up on pound cake

Too Easy Sour Cream Pound Cake

Ingredients:

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (that’s

important)

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together the butter and sugar.

Add the sour cream and mix until completely blended.

No clumps of butter.

Sift the baking soda and flour together.

Add to the creamed mixture alternating with eggs, beating in each egg one at a time. Mix in vanilla.

Grease and flour a loaf pan.

Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the pan and cool on a rack.

 

The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays. These butter pecan ice cream and pound cake will be a hit at any July 4th celebration. May we never forget that freedom is an honor and privilege to never take for granted. God Bless America!

Images from BIGSTOCK

In the beginning…….

Hey there. My name is Ashley Summers, and I would like to take a few lines to introduce myself and what I hope to accomplish with this blog.

I am a fourth generation nut. Well, to be perfectly honest, I am a fourth generation pecan girl. Those of you who know me might say I had it right the first time. I live in the metropolis of Cameron, South Carolina, and work at Golden Kernel Pecan Company. I have been “full”time for about ten seasons now. I say full time because I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t involved in some aspect of the season. However, after college, I decided to teach middle school English until there was room for me full time here at GKPC. As you can imagine, going from teaching English to 6th, 7th, and 8th graders is not a big stretch from what I do now. That being working for my dad and uncle- the owners, bosses, chiefs, man- in -command, El Presidenta, etc. I know it sounds kind of weird, but like the farmer in those Ram truck commercials from the Super Bowl or those vampires and werewolves from those books and movies, it’s in my blood.

I want to accomplish a few things with this blog. One is to educate people about PECANS. They get the shaft a lot of times when people talk about tree nuts. I can not wait to teach you how awesome these little nuggets of gold are for you. Secondly, I would even like to make some of the recipes we have here at Golden Kernel Pecan. These little treasures come from my Memi Summers’s recipe books that she wrote all in the margins and tweaked where she saw fit. The recipes also have been passed down from others in my family and friends. Thirdly, I will also write a little about life in the South for me, a single(divorced), mother of two (19 year old daughter and 17 1/2 year old son). I live in the community from which I work. I have lived here most of my life except when I went to the University of South Carolina and when I was first married. I have a cute little dog named Ruthie. She is about four months old. I also have a very special, best friend who hopefully will be much more than that one day.

So, sit back and let’s get started. My next post will be a classic. I will teach you how to make our Golden Kernel Pecan Company Pecan Pie and Tarts from the recipe we use in our own kitchen here at our plant.

Thanks for reading, and let’s get cooking with pecans!