Pecan pie is a Southern staple and a perfect dessert for holiday meals. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, a certified pecan expert has shared her go-to pie recipe.

Karen Haithcock, a 1973 East Carolina University graduate with a degree in home economics, has been growing and selling pecans with her husband, Tim, for 20 years.

Their farm in Seven Springs has more than 600 pecan trees in 15 varieties. Tim handles the growing, and Karen takes care of marketing and selling. Their pecans can be found online, in local grocery stores and co-ops, as well as restaurants including Chef and the Farmer. They’re members of the North Carolina Pecan Growers Association, Southeast Pecan Growers Association and Goodness Grows in the state.

“It’s hard work, but the orchard is so beautiful and peaceful. And then you have all those pecan pies and all those desserts,” Karen said.

But you don’t have to feel too guilty about indulging, she said.

“Pecans are healthy for you —high in fiber, heart healthy, with antioxidants and 19 vitamins and minerals. It is a good feeling to work with a healthy and delicious product.”

To grow their business, Karen recently participated in the Accelerate Rural NC program sponsored by the Miller School of Entrepreneurship in ECU’s College of Business. The program helps small businesses develop e-commerce and innovative products in niche markets.

“It was nothing short of inspiring. We heard directly from many successful business owners, and it opened my eyes to new possibilities,” she said.

Last year, the Haithcocks had a record crop. “The limbs were breaking on the trees it was so heavy. This year is a little lighter, but should be excellent,” Karen said.

Whether you pronounce it PEE-can or Puh-KAHN, try out this Pirate-approved pie recipe.

Southern Pecan Pie

Ingredients:

3 large eggs

1/3 cup butter, melted


2/3 cup white sugar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 cup dark corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla flavoring

1 cup pecan halves or coarsely chopped

1 9-inch unbaked pie crust

Directions:

Heat the oven to 350 F.

In a bowl, beat the eggs thoroughly with the white sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, salt and butter.

Add pecans.

Pour mixture into the 9-inch unbaked pastry shell.

Place pie on a cookie sheet and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely.

For storage, wrap the pie with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Contact jstorm@reflector.com or 252-329-9587.