Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Entertaining with Kathi ~ November 22, 2007

From the November 22, 2007 Entertaining with Kathi newspaper column. Here is the original, unedited version that I submitted to the paper.

“Fresh Harvested Pecans” the sign read.

I couldn’t resist the temptation! I skidded on the brakes and maneuvered my vehicle into the crunchy, graveled parking lot of the roadside stand.

The sound of a shelling machine deafened the air.

“When did you start harvesting?” I asked the farmer.

“About a month ago….” he said before we trailed off in conversation about Gin Creek.

“I’ll take a five pound bag.” I said. But I probably should have gone for the fifty-pounder. With the holiday season coming and the launch of my new culinary arts studio and catering company, I’m sure to run through some pecans pretty quick.

Toting my bag, I returned to the car and headed south for the final stretch of my days adventure. I was thrilled. I had a regional culinary treasure to tote back to Tallahassee! Pecan recipes began sifting through my imagination alongside the captured memories of the afternoon.

Caramelized Pecan Oven-Fried Chicken…
Meeting with the plumber and electrician in Havana.

Marshmallow Pecan Divinity…
Getting lost beside South Georgia cotton fields.

Pecan Turkey Dressing…
Summoning patience while driving behind a colorful poultry housekeeper wagon that slowed the traffic.

Pecan Samosas…
Accepting coffee and directions from a kind-hearted transplanted grandfatherly Indian Inn Keeper in Bainbridge.

Dreamy Plantation Pecan Pie
Visiting Gin Creek and seeing the setting and vision for dream wedding receptions.

Caramel Apple Pecan Cake….
A delicious cake I tasted this year at a Halloween Party in Havana. The rich, wholesome flavor still lingers in memory, tempting me to create a similar version to send to my long –distance family for a Thanksgiving present.

Pecan Date Loaf Candy….
Memories of a friends heirloom holiday recipe resurfaced.

Bingo! Not only had I accomplished my mission of exploring the logistics of catering an upcoming wedding at Gin Creek, the day’s jaunt also provided an idea and recipe inspiration for today’s column...Pecan Date Loaf Candy . It is an absolutely amazing holiday treat!

Ten years ago a friend shared this recipe with me. He had invited me over to his new home in Lafayette Oaks. By moonlight and flashlight, we stalked the collard green patch. He filled shopping bags full of big, beautiful deep green ruffled leaves for me to use for my catering. No I didn’t chop them and cook them with ham hocks. But instead I used them as an edible signature liner for Canopy Rose party platters. It was on that same evening I was introduced to one of the most delicious Holiday confections I have ever put in my mouth.

But be forewarned, once you taste these treasures you just might not be able to resist the temptation to over-indulge.

Ozark Pecan Date Loaf Candy

3 cups sugar
1 package dates, chopped
1 cup canned evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons butter
one half cup white Karo syrup
1 cup chopped pecans
one eight teaspoon salt

Combine sugar, milk, butter, Karo syrup and salt. Blend until smooth.

Cook to 230 degrees, then remove from heat and add dates, pecans and vanilla. You must use a candy thermometer. It will make a huge difference in obtaining the correct consistence for the candy.

Beat until creamy and thick.

Pour onto a clean damp tea towel.

Make roll one and one-half inches in diameter, put aside or refrigerate until cool.

Break into bite size pieces and store in pretty air-tight holiday tins.

Kathi Dameron is up to her taste buds in setting up the new Canopy Rose Culinary Arts Studio and Catering Company for the 2007 Holiday Party Season. She can be reached at 850-539-7750 or at

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