How do you pronounce pecan?
Do you say, "pee-can" or "puh-kahn"?
Is it a North vs. South division? Old vs. young? Or maybe an urban vs. a rural thing?
Who knows? Who cares?
When we're talking about pecan pie, I don't discriminate.
Pecan pies are just plain scrumptious. If peach cobbler is the dessert of summer, pecan pie is my choice in the fall, especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Fortunately, my Dad (Bill Millians) is friends with two of the best pecan pie bakers in the area. He's been selling pecans as part of the Kiwanis Club's fundraiser for many years. And, of course, he buys enough to keep a good supply in the freezer for the rest of the year.
So he supplies pecans to Barbara Boyer and Tricia Fuller and they bake pies for him.
Thank goodness, he shares.
"He'll call me around this time of the year and say he needs some pecan pies for his boys," said Boyer, a senior deputy clerk for real estate at the Baldwin County Courthouse. "I don't know how many years I've been baking for him. I just love being able to give things to people, and your Dad's a sweet person."
Boyer learned to make pecan pies when she was 18 years old and working at the old American Mills in Gordon. Her boss gave her the recipe — "it's just five ingredients: sugar, Karo syrup, butter, eggs and pecans" — and her secret is the "love and joy" she puts into them.
She's the most popular person in the Baldwin County Courthouse when she shows up at work with a pecan pie.
Boyer's sister, Charlene Dominy, has a catering business, making cakes or entire meals for events such as birthday or retirement parties. So when Boyer gets too busy with work, she'll buy one of her sister's cakes. "It helps me and it helps her," she said.
So is it "pee-can" or "puh-kahn" for her?
"Either one," she said. "The old-fashioned way is 'pee-can.' But my sister corrected me the other day. She says, 'puh-kahn.' But when I pick them up from around my trees, I still call them 'pee-cans,' " she said, laughing. "But, it's 'puh-kahn' pie."
Fuller, whose daughter Anslee Goldsby is the administrator at Dana Leary's Edward Jones office in downtown Milledgeville, said she is always glad to swap a pie for bags of pecans. She made a pecan pie for Dad's 91st birthday earlier this month.
She learned to make pecan pies from her mother, Lillie Hewitt.
"My mom made them all of my life, so I took her recipe and tweaked it a little bit," Fuller said, laughing. "I just love brown sugar. I could just about eat it with a spoon. So I use half white sugar and half brown sugar. And I use real butter. It makes it more fattening, but to me, it's just delicious."
Her youngest daughter, Kinsee Fuller, has picked up the mantle and mastered pecan pies.
Fuller, who lives in Eatonton, said she's proud her three daughters and two sons are all good cooks. "We all love good food," she said. "I'm not bragging. We come from a family of good cooks."
Her late husband used to say that the only grounds for divorce would be if they ran out of peas.
As a toddler, daughter Anslee would stand in the playpen in the kitchen, watching her mother cook and ignoring any distractions. "She has always loved to cook," Fuller said, noting that Anslee now specializes in pound cakes.
Fuller says she doesn't have a preference between "pee-can" and "puh-kahn." "I say them both," she said, chuckling. "It just depends on who I'm around."
Now, I don't know how Dad wound up with two women making pecan pies for him.
But I do know both of them make the best pecan pies I have ever eaten.
They both ought to be on a "Food Network" TV show.
Happy Thanksgiving to Barbara and Tricia, and their families.
Rick Millians, a 1970 Baldwin High graduate, worked at newspapers in Georgia, Ohio and South Carolina before retiring. Reach him at email@example.com.