Thursday, November 15, 2007


A few weeks ago Sheila, my neighbor, telling me the pecans at her father's place had gone completely nuts this year, said her father had asked if "that Yankee neighbor" of hers would like some.

Not just yes but HELL YES! Not that I'd say the word hell around her father.

Sheila's parents and I have always gotten along, especially "Mister" and me after he decided somewhere along the way I'm not too bad for a Yankee. I think it may have started when I was picking okra in his garden.

For as long as Sheila can remember her father has always planted a huge garden. Growing up that's how his family fed themselves and 80 years later, he's still doing it each and every year. After Mister and his wife, "Lady," can or freeze whatever they figure they'll need for the year, he opens the garden up to Sheila first and then other family members. (Then his neighbors and after that, members of the church they attend. Yes, the garden's that big.) Somewhere along the way he began -- when he calls Sheila -- including me.

Sheila and I had already been "swapping food" for years. If the garden Hubby and I used to keep produced an overage of something, I'd take it over to Sheila. If she had more of something than she thought she needed, she'd bring her overage to me. Over the years it's even evolved to ... like, whenever she makes potato salad she sends a container over to me, or chocolate cake.

Mister wasn't feeling well one year when his garden was coming in, so I went over with Sheila to help pick ... whut.ever he told us to. Which was field peas, okra and peanuts that go 'round. He got the biggest kick out of my discovery that peanuts don't grow on the plants leaves (which is where I'd been looking), but are underground attached to its roots.

("I was born a Yankee! What do I know?")

Anyway, it's pecan time. Sheila will bring me some. No, I suggested. Why not let me help you shell yours . . . and then we'll work on mine together! Nothing new there. We've worked together shelling bushels of field peas from Mister's garden. (For the uninitiated, this is something that should only be done with plenty of cold beer available). Worked together on other massive quantities of vegetables, too. But I'm dreading the pecans.

Picking the meat from the shell isn't too bad, it's cracking the nuts I learned long ago that's the real bitch. After even just a few minutes your hands start getting sore. They only get worse, and then the fingers start in. Next, wrists.

It's agony, with my hands frozen in place like claws long after.

But there's this ... this thing I've seen once or twice that I've been looking for for years. I didn't know what it was called but as soon as I began describing it, several people knew exactly what I was talking about. Few had one and had, themselves, been futilely looking for it for years. Those that did it said they'd finally stumbled across one at a flea market (Sheila) or garage sale, or had gotten theirs from a now deceased family member.

I doubted they -- whut.ever they were -- were even made any longer.

To cut to the chase in this already too-long saga, it turns out they are. Not that I ordered it directly from its manufacturer.

(If I had I would have saved a few bucks.)

Instead, I gasped when the cashier in a store that routinely stocks cherry- and olive-pit-popper-outers and hot pepper seed-taker-outers, but didn't have any "nutcrackers" except one that you can also use on lobster claws -- not believing that what I described even existed --pulled up on the computer screen the images of the chain's entire stock of nutcrackers.

And I saw IT. Thee one I've been looking for for years.


UPS delivered my "Reed's Rocket Nutcracker" Tuesday.


I showed it to Herself Wednesday, making her promise that one day -- when I'm gone and she's through using it -- that she'll pass it on to one my grandchildren.

"Sis" has one," she said nonchalantly.

"And where did she get it from," I asked.

"From Mama . . . who got it from Grannie."


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Blogger pamibe said...

Wow, I haven't seen one of those in years!! Happy cracking! ;)

6:37 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

My Dad has one of those! Still uses it every year.

10:06 AM  
Blogger GUYK said...

Yeah they do work pretty good. My sister and her husband have a big pecan ochard..several of the in Oklahoma. What they don't sell they take to a "cracker" who has a machine that does this..and does it fast. Still have to clean them but takes a lot of the work out of it.

They are in the orchards today and will be for another month shaking trees and gathering nuts..all done with tractor run machinery now adays..the hardest part is bagging them and taking them to market..and then crying over the low prices this year. Bumper crops always means low prices I reckon..such is agri-business.

4:24 PM  

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