Ever since Woody moved to the east coast from Minnesota to be closer to Rose and his job, I've been looking for signs that he's started to lose his Midwestern-ness. So far I haven't seen any. For starters, he came back for a broomball retreat, which seems like the opposite of highfalutin. (Just to clarify, you are not highfalutin if you live on the east coast, but there is that danger if you move there from a more mundane spot. I don't know why; that's just how it is).
Here's one way I know he hasn't been citified. When I came home, he had already started on the pecans. I looked at the recipe and said, "Where are the pecan halves?" He looked a little sheepish, and said that his grocery store didn't have pecan halves. I told him it was because he insisted on shopping at the cheapest grocery store in town. I tell him he's frugal to a fault. He thinks, but is too nice to say, that I'm a wastrel.
We've had a lot of bird flu in Minnesota, so there is an egg shortage. I always buy organic eggs from small farms (wastrel!), and they weren't affected, but Woody had to pay the extra dollar for a dozen eggs. (I know that Rose uses locally laid eggs from happy Pennsylvania hens).
If further proof were needed that Woody has not gone hoity-toity on us, note the beer in the background. Woody and Jim sit around and drink a lot of beer while he's here. Although beer has risen in stature of late, both Woody and Jim drank it before it was cool. Or expensive. And I have a feeling that the broomball retreat involves a fair amount of beer drinking.
The pieces of pecans, none of which are very big, go into the egg whites.
And make a billowy mass of meringue-to-be, just slightly brownish from the brown sugar and nuts.
Woody shows me how to get the proper amount of egg white on the cookie sheet with two tablespoons and to shape them into comely blobs.
He tells me I can shape them with an offset spatula, implying, I think, that it's about time I did something useful. I tell him he's much better at shaping than I am, and, although he's too nice to agree, he doesn't argue with me.
They come out perfectly! They're the best meringues I ever made. Of course, strictly speaking, I didn't exactly make them, which may have something to do with why they're the best.
Before Woody takes the meringues off to the Great Northern Woods, I tell him I must taste them, so I let some vanilla ice cream soften slightly and don't even attempt to fill the cookies neatly, or it would all melt. They're really delicious. The meringues have so much flavor from the brown sugar and pecans; they're not just crackly sugar. And I think the vanilla ice cream is perfect, although I wouldn't say no to the other flavors that Rose and Woody recommend, namely dulce de leche and coffee. They're almost as delicious as pecan pie.
Sadly for Woody, the meringues did not take the car trip intact. They came out of their neatly packed nests in pieces, so they did not get filled with ice cream. But the broomball boys ate them anyway, apparently without complaining. These may become the only meringue in my cookie repertoire.