Sugar and Grease and Nuts, oh my. By Deb Lisa Daily

My family’s delicious holiday recipes are all filled with cryptic instructions and insider information:

Lisa, Mom & Grandma Vernie

“Add sugar to the chip in the blue bowl”
“Beat mixture ’till your arm falls off.”

I think this was to prevent our precious family recipes from accidentally falling into the wrong hands — Like the Nazis.
Or Mrs. Toomey, the little old lady next door, who occasionally tried to pass off recipes found in Good Housekeeping as her own.

One of my favorite holiday recipes is for Pecan Rolls — so delicious and irritating to make that they only make an appearance once a year, at Christmas. And, as Mrs. Toomey and the Nazis are no longer a threat, I thought I might share them with you.

Grandma Vernie’s Pecan Rolls

6 cups of sugar
1 can of evaporated milk
1/4 pound of butter
1/4 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1 pound of pecans

Pour 2 cups of sugar in a heavy pan to melt slowly. As soon as sugar starts to melt, pour another 4 cups of sugar and cream* together and let cook while sugar is melting. Pour melted sugar in small stream, cooking until it forms a soft ball.
*she actually means evaporated milk here, “cream” is just to throw you off track

Remove from heat and add baking soda, stirring hard. Add butter and vanilla. Set off for 20 minutes to cool, then beat it ’till your arm falls off. Mixture will be thick and creamy.

Pour into the Pyrex dish and divide into four equal portions. Divide roasted* pecans into four equal portions.

*another surprise attack — you’re midway through the recipe and NOW you find out the pecans have to be roasted? If you were a member of the family, you’d already know this.

When candy is cool enough to handle*, roll in nuts on waxed paper and shape.*

*if it’s not cool enough to handle, you’ll have second-degree burns on your fingertips.

*shape into logs, and then slice about 1/2 inch thick. Another family secret. Otherwise you’d end up with four giant lumps of candy.

(Actually, four giant lumps wouldn’t be so bad. Then, you wouldn’t have to share.)

Happy Holidays!

Fifteen Minutes of Shame by Lisa Daily

Author: Lisa Daily

Lisa Daily is a real-life TV dating expert on Daytime. She's a syndicated relationships columnist, a popular media guest seen everywhere from MTV to the New York Times, and the author of the bestselling dating advice book, Stop Getting Dumped! : All you need to know to make men fall madly in love with you and marry "The One" in 3 years or less. Visit lisa online at

17 Replies to “Sugar and Grease and Nuts, oh my. By Deb Lisa Daily”

  1. These sound delicious – and I love how family recipes are often so cryptic! I also had to translate my mother’s kugel recipe before I put it into my book. NO, Jenny, I’m not giving it up. Yet.

  2. What happened to Mrs Toomey? DId the Nazis get her or was she taken out by second degree burns from rolling the pecan logs too early? I loved this story- I have various recipes with tiny scribbles in the margins too. One recipe book my grandmother did has notes like “tastes too sweet.” “Nice for special occasions” or a personal favorite “tastes nasty”

  3. Joanne —
    Thanks, they are!! Mmmm…kugel…

    Eileen —

    Thanks! I love the old recipe books with notes written in the margins.

    Poor Mrs. Toomey was quite old. The poor dear went to her grave coveting our pecan rolls.

    I’m pretty sure the Nazis were not implicated.


  4. Oh, this is so hilarious, Lisa! My first laugh today, and my second and third! (The rest of my energy is being spent sneezing, blowing my nose and rubbing my forehead–urgh.)


  5. Dear God that’s funny! Yanno, Russell Stover makes these things and sells them for like a buck at the grocery store. Your recipe is fabulous though. I love to bake but stink at candy – my caramel sauce sugarized on me last week. I’m not patient or preecise (see?) enough for candy making.

    I found a stack of my Grandmother’s recipes and they too were in code. And marred by grease spots. I love those cards. A little bit of the past in my own hands.

    Merry Happies everyone!

  6. This recipe sounds amazing and I’m sure you’ve perfected it – therefore, I will be waiting for my box of Pecan Rolls to arrive from Florida. You do have my address, right? 😉

    Love the photo!

  7. The photo? Adorable! And I love the little comments on the recipes. I make those comments out loud but don’t write them in the books. Now I will!

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