Sunday, February 27, 2011

In praise of the pecan; or, sweet addictions.

Anyone who is more than a passing acquaintance of the Swede-Pole (or is that Pole-Swede) behind this blog must have noticed that he is a sucker for sweets. Let's be honest, let's face the facts: he is hopelessly addicted to chocolate. As his travel companions know, our temporary Oklahoman always carries emergency chocolate on him wherever he goes-and it is not a pretty sight when our mathematically inclined chocolate junkie does not get his fix in time. Our hero's health will, in time, no doubt be affected by his chocolate consumption, and interventions and/or rehab should probably be considered.

But now, instead of dwelling on this regrettable chocolate habit, let us instead turn to one of the best features of the South: the pecan! Or, as some call it, the king of nuts. Delicious, whether simply shelled or candied, whether served in a salad or used to flavor coffee, it grows abundantly over large parts of the Southern United States. (But to a Swede-Pole, it is an exotic nut!) Here is a picture of a genuine Texan pecan tree (recognize it, Austinites?):

Our hero has added a pecan addiction to his chocolate habit ever since he bought a bag of locally produced at the convenience store on campus, not too far from his apartment. These cinnamon-flavored candied pecans seem to be popular with other Stillwater residents also, so our blogger is pulling his friends down with him.

With considerable satisfaction, the Swedish-Oklahoman food blog presents its attempt to emulate the cinnamon pecans from Twentysomething. (Yes, that's what the convenience store is called.) Now that he knows how to make this cinnamonesque nutty delight, our hero will hopefully be spared those embarrassing late night pecan runs to said store...


3 cups of shelled pecans from the groves of Oklahoma
1 egg (we need the white)
1/2 cup of brown sugar
2 spoons of honey produced by the bees of Oklahoma

Turn up the oven up to 275 F (or 135C). Prepare some parchment paper on which the nuts will be baked.

Beat the egg white. Add 1/2 cup of brown sugar and about 2 spoons of honey. Add as much cinnamon as you like; being from Sweden, I used a whole lot. Stir the mix, and then pour in the nuts.

Stir again, until the nuts are evenly coated. Pour the coated nuts onto the parchment paper, and into the oven they go.

Relax for about 10-15 minutes; make yourself some tea or watch the Academy Awards if you have a TV. Turn off the oven, remove the pecans and let them cool off. Try not eating them all at once. This may well prove a hopeless endeavor-they are so delicious!

Serving suggestions: "Live at McCabe's" by Norman Blake on the side, a cup of tea.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Post-blizzard pesto chicken with leek

As the dedicated readers of this food blog (hi mom & dad) have no doubt noticed, it has been a while since this blog was last updated, and this time, our not-so-young hero can't even blame that fact on a busy travel schedule. Apart from a quick trip to Tulsa, which did feature a tumbleweed and a number of dead skunks and possums, he has been staying put in Stillwater. And during these last few weeks, many a Netflix movie has been watched. (Our blogger would like to share the following advice with his readers: if (an undead) Dennis Hopper ever asks you if you like beer, you better say your favorite is Pabst Blue Ribbon; also, when courting pseudo-intellectual college girls, remember that nice guys finish last, and that pharmaceuticals will get you nowhere. )

In fact, our mathematically inclined Swede-Pole (or is that Pole-Swede?) spent about 2 weeks in a state of hibernation while Oklahoma State University was closed due to an abundance of snow following the Great Blizzard of 2011. To get an idea of what has been going on in the Sooner State, take the small town of Nowata, Oklahoma. On February 10,  a record cold of -31F was recorded there, and a week later, the temperature had risen 110F to 79F! (That's -35C and +26C, respectively.) While Stillwater was not quite as extreme, the blizzard closures were followed by 80F-sunshine-cold beer on the patio weather. Very nice, but not at all conducive to blogging.

But now it is finally time for an old favorite to be featured in these pages. To avoid charges of plagiarism, I readily admit that I got/stole this recipe from kajsafs many years ago. (Let me know if you want to be named and duly honored, kajsafs!) In any case, I thought it was charmingly simple to make, and simply delicious when I first had it, and I have been making it ever since.


2 chicken breast filets (organic)
2 leeks
1/2 jar of pine nuts

olive oil
1/2 jar of pesto (I would have made my own, but I don't have a mixer!)
1 carton of half & half

salt and pepper


First, we roast the pine nuts. Do not add any oil or anything like that; instead, pour the pine nuts into a frying pan, turn up the heat, and make sure to stir the contents so that the nuts don't get burned on one side. Nibble on a few pine nuts to make sure they are thoroughly roasted.

Pour the roasted nuts into a bowl. Next, cut the chicken filets into strips. Fry the chicken in the frying pan in a generous quantity of olive oil, and some salt and pepper. Make sure the chicken is almost done before moving on, but do not worry too much. And you want it soft, and not crispy.

Next is the leek. Cut off the top part, wash it, chop it, and add it to the pan. Let the chicken and leek fry for a little bit; again, think soft but not crispy.  Then add some half and half (I always follow my intuition as to the quantity, but a little less under a standard half gallon/450ml carton is enough) and let everything cook for a little bit. Finally, it is time for the pesto. Add a couple of spoonfuls of pesto, and stir the sauce. Add more pesto. Add more pesto. Turn the heat down low and let the sauce simmer.

In the meantime, boil the pasta. It is not difficult, just add some salt and make sure to serve the pasta is al dente. Just before you serve the sauce, throw in the pine nuts, and mix it. Done!

Serving suggestions: "Oracular spectacular" by MGMT on the side, and in keeping with the theme of this entry, a Hibernation Ale from Great Divide Brewing Co., Denver, CO.