Once upon a time there was an innocent teenage girl who wanted to retrieve some vanilla ice cream to put on top of the pecan pie she just baked. So the girl opened the back door and walked out to the garage to check the deep freezer for a carton of vanilla ice cream. She tiptoed on the stone pathway between the back door and the garage so that her feet would not get wet from the day’s rainfall. She innocently reached her destination, opened the lid, and immediately shut it as soon as she saw the horrors residing within the freezer. Looking back up at her was a deer head complete with a set of antlers. After taking a moment to rid herself of the heebie-jeebies, she cautiously re-opened the freezer because it was very plausible that something may jump out at her. Ahhh there it was. Conveniently nestled between the deer head and the carcass of a copperhead snake, and to the right of some dead birds, was that desired carton of vanilla ice cream.
Yes, that girl is me.
I shouldn’t have been surprised. Some people classify my dad as a redneck, but personally I like to consider him an “intelligent redneck.” He did, in fact, graduate from Davidson College and wrote his senior thesis on the differences in boys and girls bathroom graffiti. To give him credit, he’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, and he makes a mean venison burger. And if I ever end up in the Cash Cab in New York, I sure as heck hope he’s with me.
Though, I must admit, he may give off a little redneck-vibe if you see him walking through Davidson in his Ducks Unlimited Hat, a camouflaged jacket (actually you might not see him…), and his beloved clown socks and sandals. My dad is a fantastic hunter, a successful scavenger, and a creative cook, so I really should not have been surprised when I saw that deer head and snake in the freezer. Upon inquiring about the contents of our freezer, he asked me to correctly identify this deer head as a “small four-point caped buck” (I hope I got that right). After a little scavenging around in the freezer, I noticed the contents of our freezer to include (but are certainly not limited to): ducks, catfish, crappie, trout, bass, chorizo, parts of five different deer, pigeons, and a copperhead snake. I would like to see anyone top that incredible list of “I-used-to-breathe-now-live-in-a-freezer” things.
The happy hunter claims that the fish are for eating, the deer are for burgers and venison jerky (yum—get in my belly), the pigeons are for training hunting dogs, the snake is for skinning, and the ducks are for his experimentation with the art of taxidermy (and then for eating). Part of me is dying to take a piece of his future taxidermy to my dorm room next year, while the other part of me fears the reaction of my future roommate upon seeing a stuffed duck on my desk…
I guess the point of this story is that I retrieved the vanilla ice cream from the freezer/cold animal storage space after finagling it out from its position in between the antlers of the deer. It was a heavenly addition to the pecan pie. You can’t eat pecan pie without a scoop of vanilla. You just can’t. So here’s the recipe for my Aunt Hannah’s pecan pie. And if you add a scoop of vanilla, you just might think this sliver of pie topped with ice cream fell straight from heaven.
Source: Hannah Owen, the recipe resides in Amy Weir’s ragged, tattered, ripped, and loved cookbook.
Ingredients for Filling: ¼ cup butter, ½ cup sugar, ½ tsp cinnamon, 1 tbl flour, 1 ½ tsp vanilla, ½ tsp salt, 3 beaten eggs, 1 cup dark Karo Syrup, 1 ½+ cups pecans (chopped or whole)
Directions: Melt the butter in a saucepan and then remove it from the heat. Then add the rest of the ingredients to the saucepan. Pour into 9 inch pie shell (deep dish). Bake 45 minutes at 350º. If using a 10 inch shell, use 4 eggs and a bit more flour.
Want to make your own crust? You totally should. Here’s what to do:
(Source: Willow Bird Baking): Pulse 2 cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt together to combine. Add cubes of ¼ cup shortening and pulse until the mixture has the texture of coarse sand, about 10 seconds. Add in ½ cup of butter cubed and pulse until butter pieces are no larger than small peas, about 10 pulses. Add 4 tablespoons water and pulse on low. If dough remains crumbly and doesn’t come together, add another tablespoon of water. Add as little as is required to enable the dough to be rolled into a ball. Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes (if you’re in a hurry, chill in the freezer for about 10 minutes). Roll disk of dough out to around ¼ inch thick.
So here’s to pigging out on pecan pie (don’t forget the vanilla ice cream) and loving all y’all intelligent rednecks. Bon appétit.