BAKED PECAN RICE

I found this cast iron nutcracker at a garage sale.  I bring it out every year around this time, and the kids enjoying putting the nuts in the squirrel’s mouth and cracking them.  I’m sure over the years other things have made their way to the squirrel’s mouth, but I am thankfully unaware of them.

I don’t know about you, but I think squirrels are the cutest members of the rodent family, not that there is a lot of competition for that title.  The squirrels in my neighborhood are hilarious.  Like this little guy that made himself at home in my neighbor’s bird feeder:

Biosphere squirrel

Another one of my neighbors has squirrels in her attic, and it’s hilarious watching them poke their faces out (she didn’t think they were so hilarious when I pointed them out to her, and called the exterminator):

Peek-a-boo!

 Is the pizza here yet?

There was a church near us that was completely overrun with squirrels.  They tried just about everything, but couldn’t get rid of them.  Finally, they baptized the squirrels and registered them as members of the church, and now they only see them on Christmas and Easter.

When my son was in fifth grade, he had one of those projects that make you want to call the teacher at midnight from a pay phone with a sock over your mouth, as you (and unfortunately, I do mean you) are finishing the project on Mother’s Day (thanks, Teach), and scream into the receiver “WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?”  The project was to write 25 poems using different literary techniques (e.g., alliteration, rhyming, etc.).  If you have school-age children, you know that the project didn’t end with the drafting of the poems — they had to be typed, mounted on construction paper, illustrated, and bound — after all, by fifth grade your mom should be pretty good at that.  He drew a blank when it came to writing a haiku involving nature.  This was at about the point where I didn’t care if he got an F on the project, so I told him to just write about the dead squirrel we saw in front of our house that morning.  This is what he came up with:

Dead squirrel on sidewalk

Did you fall from tall treetop?

No acorns for you!

We still laugh about that one.  (I am aware that in some parts of the country the word squirrel is pronounced as two syllables — i.e., skwur-uhl — but in our neck of the woods, and especially for purposes of coming up with a 5-syallable haiku line near midnight, we prounouce it skworl.)

Our neighborhood squirrels have lots of acorns, nuts, and seeds to choose from, but pecans are among their favorites.  Once, a squirrel in a tree in front of my house started screaming at me when I stepped out the front door.  It kinda hurt my feelings, as it had been one of those days when it felt like everyone was screaming at me.  I guess he felt bad about it afterwards, because the next morning I found this pecan on my doorstep (and I don’t have a pecan tree), which I honestly believe was the squirrel’s way of saying he was sorry:

Inspired by the squirrel nutcracker and the antics of my squirrelly neighbors, I made Baked Pecan Rice.  My Dad told me it tastes like Thanksgiving, so I think it’s particularly timely.  The pecans, butter, and herbs combine to make this a satisfying dish that goes nicely with a holiday meal.  I think I might put a little dish out for my squirrel friends to enjoy this year.

BAKED PECAN RICE
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Recipe type: Pasta and Rice, Side dish
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 cups uncooked white rice
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon thyme (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ¾ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ¾ cup diced celery
  • ¾ cup diced onion
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt butter in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add rice and cook until golden brown, stirring frequently. Transfer to a 2-quart casserole and add 3-1/4 cups chicken broth, oregano, and thyme, mixing to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and bake for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the remaining ¾ cup chicken broth, parsley, celery, onions, and pecans, stirring to combine. Cover and bake an additional 45 minutes.

 Browning the rice in butter

 A perfect dish for squirrels, family, and squirrelly family

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