Nuts for Thanksgiving Break
Katherine Rose Park 409 N. Walnut Creek Dr, Mansfield
Gallery: Cinnamon Toasted Pecans [1 Image] Click any image to expand.
Are you looking forward to the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, or dreading how to entertain the kids during their week long vacation, without draining your Christmas budget? Does a simple and fun activity, one that will get the kids out of the house, appeal to you? Then pack a lunch, and spend a morning or afternoon at the park, going on a nut hunt!
Katherine Rose Memorial Park, located on Walnut Creek Dr, is filled with beautiful pecan trees, just bursting with pecans! While the park makes a wonderful outing with your children, to enjoy the playground and walk or ride bikes on the trails, why not also take advantage of the plentiful bounty offered by the trees? Take a little bucket or basket, and fill it with pecans. Your children will love gathering them off the ground. Explain that the pecans are also a food source for squirrels and birds, and you should only take what you need.
It's a great lesson for kids to learn that food doesn't just come from grocery store shelves. Each time we visit the park, my children will gather a few pecans for snacking. I'll never forget the time one of my daughter's friends was with us, and was amazed that we were "eating off the ground". Once she cracked open a few, however, she was hooked!
If you have never harvested pecans, it's easy. The nut of the pecan lies inside a hard brown shell. The shell should appear solid, without any holes. Shake the nut to listen for a solid sound, a hollow sound is the sign of a poorly developed pecan. Shelling the pecans is easy, too. It can be a little messy, and better if you can do it outside. Remove the shell using a hammer, pliers or a nut cracker. Your kids will love this, and probably get a little too excited. Remind them to not hit or crack too hard, ideally you want to leave the pecan "meat" intact. Once the shell is open, simply pull apart the two halves. Use a pick to clean away any of the remaining hull, which has a bitter taste. The nuts have a high oil content, and once cleaned should be refrigerated. Delicious eaten immediately, but what's better than the smell of toasted nuts? Here's a great recipe, but simple and easy enough that the kids can do it, and they can even contribute to the Thanksgiving Dinner!
Toasted Cinnamon Pecans:
1 lb cleaned pecan halves
3 tbsp melted butter
3 tbsp corn syrup
3 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, then add pecans. Stir to coat pecans thoroughly. Lay nuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper for easy clean up. Bake for an hour, stirring every 20 minutes.
For more fun ways to enjoy our beautiful state, visit my blog at www.havingfuninthetexassun.blogspot.com or follow us on facebook at Having Fun in the Texas Sun.