I may be biased, but I believe there are some things (particularly produce-wise) that Louisiana does best. Strawberries. Sweet Potatoes. Rice. Honey. Tomatoes. Peaches. Greens. And pecans.
The northern half of the state (especially the northwest of the state…yeah…there is a part of Louisiana that is not in New Orleans) is home to several pecan groves. In our city, there were several pecan trees…and still are. In one of the city parks, you can pick up pecans for free (the park caretakers really appreciate it because then they don’t have to clean them up).
I will be perfectly honest. Last year’s pecan season locally wasn’t great. It was late, after Thanksgiving, really, before they came in. And the squirrels squirreled away most of those.
This year (for some reason, every other year is a good year), I was ready for it. I managed to scoop up (for my mom, my sister, and me) just over 18 pounds in shell. And, to me, they were great pecans…not bitter…full to the shell…and mostly without a blemish.
Cost (other than the gas to drive there and back): free.
Cost of the 9+ pounds that would come out of the shells (retail): probably in excess of $50.
And…we use pecans in our family. Luckily, we are nut-allergy-free. I make pecan pie, we use them in Nanaimo bars, and they are used in any other number of dishes…including pralines.
On a lighter note: I felt like I was in a nonstop Easter egg hunt (with tiny eggs) while I foraged for pecans.
Here’s some of the bounty:
Pecan harvesting has become one of our holiday traditions. Muffin sort of gets into it…but I did mention that the pecan trees are at a park, right? So…Muffin looks for about 10 minutes and then plays at the park under the watchful eye of Granny or his dad while Mama runs around in search of pecans.
My dad is in charge of cracking the pecans. My mom, my sister, and me usually “pick out” the pecans while we are at my sister’s over Thanksgiving. To me, this is one of the best memory making times of the holiday for “us girls.” We tend to laugh and joke and plan out the post-Thanksgiving shopping (also a mother-daughters bonding excursion).
What do you find locally for free or cheap?
Note: I am not including this week’s sales (or next week’s). I’m not too impressed by the offerings of Kroger or Albertson’s this week (and most of the deals last next week, as well).