Here's a big time, mondo, never-told-anyone-else and please-don't-call-the-truant-officer secret.
When I was in high school, my mom let me skip school one time. She had driven me all the way to my high school because I was only a freshman, but when I got there, I just mumbled 'Man, I really don't want to go to school today.'
And my mom said, 'well, do you have any big projects due?'
And I said no, and she said, 'why don't we just play hooky?'
So she drove me to a French bakery in town that she had recently discovered and we had one regular croissant and one pain au chocolat, both of which we cut in half and shared. Then we stashed my backpack in the trunk and went to the mall.
Have you ever been to the mall on a weekday morning? It's awesome. There's only elderly people doing their mall-walking exercises, and all of the stores are deathly quiet because the clerks all have hangovers, and there are no lines anywhere.
We shopped around the mall for awhile, then we got a snack and went home, where we probably watched The Golden Girls together for the rest of the school day. And before you jump on your high horse about the immorality and unethical nature of letting your kid skip school, know that that day was, to this day, the only time I've ever played hooky, and I went on to get a summa cum laude high school diploma, then a bachelor's AND a master's degree, so clearly it didn't affect me too much.
And although I don't remember the snack we got that day, I can pretty much guarantee you it was sugared pecans that came in a magenta-coloured paper cone from a kiosk in the middle of the mall. Those nuts, which made an entire half of the mall smell like Christmas, were my mom's favourite snack... and after making the mistake of letting me taste them one time, quickly became my favourite, too. It became a tradition-- if my mom was going to agree to take me shopping, we'd have to fortify ourselves with a paper cone of pecans first, eaten as quickly as we could, while they were still warm.
My mom is celebrating her birthday today, and I can't be there to celebrate with her. I'm sad not to be in North Carolina with her, and I've been thinking all day about some of my favourite memories of our birthdays past. So, in honour of my mom's birthday today, here's a homemade version of those pecans, which you probably shouldn't try to make, because they came out disastrously for me. Sorry, mom. But at least this way, you know I'm not over here in Scotland enjoying your favourite treat without you.
2 spoons out of five. I was excited for these, because, honestly, even if they didn't taste good, I at least anticipated that they'd make the house smell amazing. And the use of egg white as the binding agent made perfect sense to me-- it's practically glue, so it should have worked perfectly! But, alas, it just spread all over the cookie sheet and promptly glued itself to my cookware. The nuts I could get off the cookie sheet tasted great, but they were so hard to get off that it just wasn't worth it.
Butter a cookie sheet and preheat oven to 150C/300F.
Add water to beaten egg and stir lightly.
Add remaining ingredients except for pecans and stir well.
Add pecans and stir until the nuts are covered.
Spread pecans on prepared cookie sheet and make sure all pecans are separated.*
Bake 20 minutes, then let cool before removing from pan.
*Original version of that sentence read: 'make sure no nuts are touching.' But because I am a middle-schooler at heart, it made me giggle so I changed it.
1 egg white, beaten until stiff
1 tsp water
½ c sugar
¾ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
2 ½ c pecans