Autumn in central Georgia brings but one certainty— pecans. Bushels and bushels of them. The state is the unofficial capital for the rich, buttery nuts, where they’re exchanged like social pleasantries. “Growing up in Georgia, you’re constantly loaded up with pecans by the sackful this time of year,” says Gena Knox, a fifth generation Georgian who, for the record, stands firmly in the “puh-kahn” versus “pee-can” pronunciation camp.
The cookbook author and owner of Fire & Flavor (fireandflavor.com), a line of natural cooking products, was brought up by a resourceful mother who took a practical what’s-around-orin-the-ground approach to sourcing ingredients for recipes. So Gena says, come fall, she’s always looking for ways to incorporate pecans into her cooking and baking.
The author’s favorite varieties come from Pearson Farm, a 4,300-acre grove in Fort Valley, Georgia, which harvests 3.5 million pecans annually— selling them both on-site and by mailorder (pearsonfarm.com). “Pearson has this great variety called Elliot pecans,” says Gena. “They’re petite and almost perfectly round, so they’re beautiful for pies and desserts because you can use them whole.” She spends the three