I’ve had Georgia on my mind since visiting family in Atlanta for Thanksgiving. We took a road trip to Savannah and Charleston and discovered beautiful cotton fields, pecan trees and some amazing countryside. It couldn’t have been a more relaxing and enjoyable break. The food from the Low Country was for the most part great. It certainly was plentiful. The delicious seafood in Charleston and Savannah, my sister’s home-cooking in Atlanta (still dreaming about that squash and chipotle soup) and good old fashioned Southern cooking.
Georgia doesn’t feel like anywhere else I’ve visited in the USA. While we were there, we took a trip to an old Plantation House and were enthralled by the history of the rambling estate. Food played such an important role on these plantations and it would have been fascinating to see these houses fully operational and the fields flourishing with crops. En route, we saw many small wooden houses, boarded up and the nearby fields left fallow. It’s sad to see the economic decline has hit such a fertile and previously prosperous area.
I was really impressed with the quality of fresh ingredients growing in these parts. We took a little detour, about an hour and a half off the interstate to visit Ellis family pecan farm. Despite it being November, the sun was beating down and the trees still rich with their autumn leaves. Driving around here the vast cotton crops looked like fields of snow and the orange trees were abundant with glistening fruit. It couldn’t have been more idyllic. Ellis pecan farm shop is a quaint and simple affair. They sell numerous varieties of pecans and every permutation of pecan that you can imagine, spiced pecans, roasted pecan, pecan butter, pecan oil, pecan pie…I had thought that there might be some kind of a tour but when I asked, was told rather matter of factly ‘the pecan trees are outside’. Which of course they were, with the hard shelled pecans growing on the branches like shiny chocolate sweets. So we did our own tour around, marvelling at the majestic tress whilst eating homemade pecan-butter ice-cream in the sun.
I love this picture which shows the bountiful pecan trees and the bright red and orange pecan stores. We couldn’t leave without buying several large bags of a variety of different pecans. Alas, only a few bags made it home (salted pecans are my new favourite road trip snack). As soon as I got back to wintry Dublin, I couldn’t wait to crack them open and start cooking. As it’s so close to Christmas, I wanted to cook something a little festive and sweet. I came up with the pecan, cranberry and white chocolate chip cookie. It’s the perfect cookie to have with a cup of tea on these chilly evenings, and of course dream about that glorious Georgia sunshine.
Makes about 25 cookies
– 200g of flour
– 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 110g of butter
– 120g of castor sugar
– 1 egg
– 2 drops vanilla essence
– 3oz of cranberries, chopped coarsely
– 50g of pecans chopped coarsely
– 50g of white chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line 2 large baking trays with silicone or greaseproof paper. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until well combined. Next add the egg and mix in well. Sieve the flour, baking powder, and salt together into a bowl. Add the flour to the butter and egg and mix with a spoon until it forms a dough. Finally add the vanilla essence, chopped pecans, white chocolate chips, and cranberries. Mix well to combine. Form the dough into small balls (about the size of a ping pong ball). Place the dough balls on the lined baking sheet and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand. Ensure to leave about a one and half inch gap between the cookies. Place in the preheated oven and cook for 15 -20 minutes. They should be golden brown with a nice golden underside.