The All American Nut

The Native Americans used them to make an intoxicating drink called "Powcohicora." George Washington was frequently seen munching them. He filled his pockets with them to continue munching throughout the Revolutionary War. Thomas Jefferson planted the trees at his beloved Monticello. In 1865, they became popular in the North when Union soldiers carried them home after the Civil War. They are called pecans, a Native American word of Algonquin origin that once meant "all nuts requiring a stone to crack." Today, the pecan is that All American Nut.

The pecan is the only major tree nut that grows naturally in North America. Wild pecans were so available they became a major food source for early American Natives during the autumn season. First to cultivate the pecan tree, these early Americans adapted their settlements near the plantings. Colonists in the late 1770's soon caught on to the versatility of the pecan and began exporting the nut to Europe. Demand for the pecan grew, resulting in the nut becoming a more valuable crop than cotton.

The recipe below is a delicious variation of Pecan Pie. It is hard to beat the traditional Pecan Pie but Cheesecake Pecan Pie meets that challenge.

Cheesecake Pecan Pie

1 unbaked Pie Shell

1 cup corn syrup

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 and ½ cup pecans

Beat eggs until light. Add corn syrup, melted butter, and vanilla to eggs. Beat well. Stir in pecans and pour into pastry lined pie pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and lower oven temperature to 300 degrees. Spoon cheesecake topping (below) over top of pecan pie. Return to oven and continue baking until topping is firm, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Cheesecake Topping.

8 oz. package of cream cheese

¼ cup sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg, beaten

Beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add remaining ingredients. Beat until light. Spoon on pie. Return to oven.

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About The Author,
Sandy Powers is the author of "Organic for Health," Finalist in the Health: General category of the USA Best Books Awards; Winner in the Health category, of the Beach Book Festival; accepted on file with Oprah.