After The Kid finished freshman year of college up in Vermont, an internship was landed in Woodstock, NY. Petey and I flew up, and would rent a car to lug child and possessions to a Craigslist-rented apartment in the Empire state.
*Here’s a piece of interesting trivia that I learned up there: the famous “Summer of Love” festival was not actually in Woodstock NY, but 60 miles southwest, in Bethel NY. And if every baby boomer that claims to have been there really was, no human under the age of thirty would have been present anywhere else on the planet that weekend. (Actually, I did go to school with a girl who was one of those naked toddlers in attendance, but she has no memory of it; coincidentally neither do many of the adult concert-goers.)
Anyway, back to the airport…Petey uses a walking stick, and I was concerned that it would be confiscated by the TSA. I’d done bounteous research, but the rules as written were vague, and open to wide interpretation. I was a little nervous that a grouchy agent with a toothache or one who’d gotten a call from the IRS would nix the cane, and my husband would be physically penalized for the duration.
I’d planned to make some treats to take up for The Kid to share with friends. So, I decided to put together goody bags full of my homemade cheese wafers and my creamy, delicious pecan pralines to hand out at security. I was hoping this good will gesture would facilitate smooth sailing through the line.
By the time Petey, his cane, and I got through security, we were on a first-name basis with the agents. We’d reduced one sweet woman to tears because the pralines reminded her so much of the ones her dearly departed granny used to make for holidays and special occasions.
Vanilla Bean Pecan Pralines
3 cups broken pecans
2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup whole milk
6 tablespoons butter, salted
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 vanilla bean, scraped
Place pecan pieces in a dry skillet on medium. Stirring constantly, cook until color deepens and they’re aromatic. Remove from heat, and let cool.
In medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, granulated sugar, cream, milk, butter, empty vanilla pod, and salt. Cook over medium, stirring constantly, until mixture reaches 230°. Discard pod, lower heat slightly, add toasted pecans and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until it gets to 236°. Remove from heat; let stand for 5 minutes. Add vanilla bean scrapings and stir with wooden spoon until mixture is thickened and slightly creamy, about 1-2 minutes. Using a small cookie scoop, spoon the pralines onto a sheet of parchment paper or waxed paper. If the mixture becomes stiff or grainy, return to burner and stir over medium heat until it can be easily scooped and dropped.
Makes 4 dozen.They were a hit in Montpelier, too.
Our first night in Vermont we were in a hotel, but The Kid was staying at the dorm to finish packing. A school friend, Chase (Northerner and praline neophyte), came over to hang out with our child. Despite dire warnings of the richness of the candy, and to his everlasting regret, he polished off the remaining 30 pralines in the time it took to watch Hot Tub Tome Machine.
You ever seen a praline hangover?
It ain’t pretty.
Thanks for your time.