I’m in love with a bowl of the most beautiful spicy sweet and smoky flavored pecans or rather I’m in love with the memory of a bowl of the most beautiful spicy sweet and smoky flavored pecans. Did I also mention that I’m in love with ground red New Mexican chipotle peppers and Spanish smoked paprika? No, but I will tell you that I do like the deep smoky flavor they add to dishes – like potatoes, chicken, fish, salsas, soups and sauces. So when I reached in my spice rack to pull out a jar of something spicy to add to a bag of pecans about to be roasted- I thought right away of adding a smoky flavor. Ground chipotle peppers are used throughout Mexico as well as in Central America and Spanish paprika or pimenton is one of the main ingredients in Spanish cooking. Who ever came up with the idea to smoke peppers before grinding them into fragrant spices used for cooking was one creative person that I would have liked to meet. I’ve made several trips to Mexico and was also fortunate to visit Spain with my family a few years ago. We visited Spain with a very dear friend who is originally from Madrid as our tour guide. We have wonderful memories from the trip but the prize souvenir I brought home was the tin of smoked paprika that I tucked into my suitcase. We are still fortunate to enjoy home cooked Spanish meals at the home of our friend who lives close to us and I do hope that we have another travel adventure in Spain with all of us in the not too far away future.
One adventure we did recently enjoy was a tour at Safari West with our grandchildren last weekend. Safari West is a 400 acre private wildlife preserve in the hills of Sonoma County with mostly species native to Africa, including giraffes, rhinoceros, cheetahs, zebras and many unusual birds. The tour involves some driving and walking to see the animals up close and personal where they live. We started our tour in an open-air authentic safari vehicle, a jeep used in the Korean war that handles the rugged bumpy terrain very well. The boys, my husband and grandsons had a great view in seats above the jeep. While I rode down below with my 2 & 1/2 year old granddaughter, who wanted to get out and pet the animals at every stop- which is pretty much every few minutes. Thank goodness for our tour guide Aaron, who studies African animals and is very knowledgeable on the subject. He was very patient, answered all our questions and genuinely has a passion for giving the tours as well as the animals at Safari West. I can’t believe it took us so long to visit, we’ve been talking about taking our grandchildren on a tour all Summer but we were fortunate to pick a warm November day with clear blue skies. The kids loved our safari experience and in a few years I think it would be fun to return with them to enjoy a ‘sleep over’ in one of the tent cabins (I’ll bring the spicy-sweet-smoky pecans).
I included a link to their site above but just a quick note for visitors who would like to spend the night at Safari West they offer an African Tented Camp arrangement for groups. They also offer a dining experience at the Savannah Cafe which features the elegant Elephant room with safari ranch style BBQ meals. Here are a few photos from our tour of Safari West.
Adapted from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan.
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoons Chipotle Ground Red, Penzeys Spices
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon Paprika Smoked Spanish Style, Penzeys Spices
- 1 large egg white
- 2 cups pecan halves
- Preheat the oven to 300F.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment.
- In a small bowl stir together the sugar, salt and spices.
- In a large bowl beat the egg white until foamy, toss in the nuts and stir them to coat.
- Stir in the sugar and spice mixture, stir to evenly coat the pecans.
- Lift the nuts from the bowl, letting any excess egg white drip back into the bowl and spread out on the prepared baking sheet
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, until browned.
- Cool and then break apart, letting them cool completely.