Last weekend rocked.
I celebrated St. Patty’s day by attending the Michael Jackson Immortal show, touring the Miller Lite brewery, discovering the best bowl of crab bisque in existence and exploring a fabulous all organic co-op.
Where did I partake in such fun? America’s Dairyland of course- good ole Milwaukee!
And for as much fun as I had, I couldn’t help but notice some bizarre happenings…or perhaps lack thereof.
I’m not sure if all the “honorary” Irish people from Milwaukee ceremoniously migrate south to Chicago for the holiday, but the streets were so empty that we could have driven the entire length of their downtown in the same time we would have flicked off eight swerving cab drivers in just one Chicago city block.
I’m accustomed to the most Irish of holidays boasting its arrival with main drags stuffed to the gills with drunken decorated nomads, rivers gone green and the general atmospheric alcohol content of all Chicago city boundaries to be at an all time high.
People were eerily friendly there as well. Several folks attempted to strike up a conversation with me in the elevators, in the line for the bathroom (thankfully not while using the bathroom) and while seated in anticipation at the Bradley Center. I’m sure I’d have some great conversations with the natives to share had I not scared the kind Milwaukee-ans away with a gaping mug reflecting utter shock and confusion at their neighborliness.
A clear weekend highlight though, was the Miller Lite brewery tour- and this coming from a wine gal.
Since that experience, I’m determined that beer tastes better in Wisconsin. My boyfriend insists I only felt this way because I was both ravenous going into the sampling and was biased to the rare, festive green libations that were offered.
I disagree. The green Miller High Life in Wisconsin was far superior to the Miller “Eh” Life they serve in my hometown. I believe the green coloring did in fact add that extra notch of holiday allure and enticement that the camel color lacked, but with it, a light, crisp wheat beer flavor followed. This differs vastly from the “blah”, “ew” and “ick” notes that dominate the beer by my house.
No joke. Beer + WI = Mmm.
The only thing that would have made the beer sampling better was a pairing of nut samples to accompany them.
And for some reason, that yearning for crunch has been clinging to me all week. So, I bring you the queen of all sweet nuts- cinnamon pecans.
Seeing as I’m out of Wisconsin and all, and I’ve gone the sweet route, I will have to tag in coffee for the beer. Ahhh…much better.
You start the coffee and I’ll whip up the nuts….
The bare and the beautiful.
Alert stations 1 and 2 for duty.
Whip that vanilla into a flavor frenzy.
Toss like a salad. A brown, sugary, sinful salad.
Let the toasty pecans sprawl out to cool before the munchies summon.
Click to see more updated photos of these for my blog’s 2nd birthday November 2013:
I got the base from my mom’s version that she makes for family gatherings. However, my style demands a little more crunch, a little more coating and a little more depth of flavor. Prepare that cup ‘o joe for a crunchy, nutty and sugary partner that will melt vanilla and cinnamon into the crevaces of your mouth.
- 1 lb pecan halves
- 1 egg white
- 1 T vanilla
- 3/4 C white sugar
- 1/4 C brown sugar
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 250 F. Line a large cookie sheet with the nonstick coating of your preference or a silpat mat.
- Retrieve 2 large bowls. In the larger one, mix the sugars, salt and cinnamon. In the other one whisk the vanilla and egg white until the mixture is frothy.
- Pour the pecans into the egg mixture and coat entirely. Then pour the wet pecans into the larger bowl with the sugar mixture. Use a large spoon to make sure all pecans are thoroughly coated.
- Spread pecans onto your prepared cookie sheet and bake one hour in the oven. Be sure to stir the pecans every 15 minutes while baking.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Store in an air tight container.
Some coffee talk…and tips:
- The nuts harden and become crunchy as they cool. One hour is always perfect for me, but you can always pull one out at each stirring point and let it cool to test it.
- If you really enjoy a cinnamon-y nut, I encourage you to add another half to full tsp of cinnamon to the recipe.