Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Bear Gives Thanks: Candied Nuts

Bear Says Thanks is the newest in the Bear series, written by Karma Wilson, and beautifully illustrated by Jane Chapman.  I want to give an additional shout-out to Jane Chapman here: I LOVE her illustrations.  I would buy a print and hang it on my wall.  I mean, look at this!

Let me just say that I may be a little biased here: I love Bear.  I am a huge fan.  So when the newest Bear book came out, I had to buy it for my library, and I am so glad I did.

Bear is the title character in this and 7 other books, which began with 2002's Bear Snores On (in which our hero is asleep in cave despite the multitude of animals that join him in order to warm up).  Bear is usually doing something that everyone can relate to - such as getting scared when all alone (Bear Feels Scared), losing a tooth (Bear's Loose Tooth), or making new friends (Bear's New Friend).

Bear Gives Thanks starts with Bear feeling "bored, bored, bored" and missing his friends.  Then, he has a great idea - he'll invite all his friends over for a delicious feast!  Unfortunately, he finds that he has absolutely nothing in his cupboard.  This doesn't stop his friends from coming over, though, each bringing a tasty dish to share with everyone.  Mouse brings a huckleberry pie, Hare brings muffins, and Gopher and Mole bring fresh honey nuts!  As more friends arrive, Bear becomes more and more flustered - they have all brought food to share, but he has nothing to share with them! Will his friends mind that he has nothing to give?

Edited to add: This is also an excellent Thanksgiving book that really gets to the heart of the matter.  There are no pilgrims, there is no turkey, but there is a lovely gathering of friends, sharing of food and company, and general gratitude.  Thanksgiving is a holiday that too often gets shortchanged as an almost-Christmas holiday.

Though these are not honey nuts like Gopher and Mole brought, I figured I, like Bear, could be forgiven, because I misremembered the specific type of nuts when I was looking for recipes, and by the time I realized it, I already had all my ingredients (and realized I was out of honey).  So, we're having Candied Nuts instead.  And, oh! Are they delicious!  Just a note: This is not a recipe that the kids can help with all the way through, but they can help with measuring and mixing.  As a bonus, the kitchen smells really good.

Gopher and Mole's Candied Nuts
1 egg white (from an egg - this won't work with EggBeaters)
1 tbsp. water
10 oz. nuts* (I used walnuts)
1 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. salt

1) Preheat your oven to 250.  Thoroughly grease a cookie sheet (or cover with parchment paper), and set it aside.
2) Whip the egg white with the water until it becomes frothy (an electric mixer comes in REALLY handy here).  In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, cinnamon, and salt; set aside.
3) Once the egg white is frothy, mix in the nuts until fully coated and there is no liquid left in the bottom of the bowl.
4) Pour the nuts into the sugar mixture, and mix thoroughly, until there is no more sugar left in the bowl (it should all be stuck to the nuts).  Then, spread these nuts out onto the greased cookie sheet, trying to keep them from overlapping if you can.
5) Bake the nuts for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

*The original recipe, which you can see here, calls for 1 lb. of pecans.  I used 10 oz. of walnuts, and I did have a little much glaze on my walnuts - but no complaints from me!  You can try fiddling with the amount and nut variety to your own taste - and please let me know what you think!

This is what my walnuts looked like before being baked:

And this is what they looked like after:
Not particularly pretty looking, but pretty tasty!  I got this recipe from the website, where it's listed as Sugar Coated Pecans.

Kat's side note: Did you ever notice how many bears in picture books are named Bear?  There's Karma Wilson's Bear, Philip C. Stead and Erin Stead's Bear (Bear Has a Story to Tell), Bonnie Becker's Bear (of the Bear and Mouse series), Olivier Dunrea's Old Bear (Old Bear and His Cub), which is not to be confused with Kevin Henkes's Old Bear (Old Bear), Else Homelund Minark's Little Bear (a whole series of him!), Bill Martin, Jr.'s Brown Bear (Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?), and the entire lovably generic Bear family created by Stan and Jan Berenstain (The Berenstain Bears and Any Topic Ever).  You'd think I'd be complaining about this, and begging for more originality, but I'm honestly kind of impressed at how each of these Bears is his own specific Bear with his own specific personality.  Except maybe for Brown Bear, Brown Bear: he doesn't do much, though you can't visually confuse him as any Bear except one designed by Eric Carle.  So, tell me: who is your favorite bear?