You’re making a salad—say, for company, just to up the ante. You reach in the pantry for croutons—and come up empty. You search the cabinet. No croutons. The refrigerator is surprisingly free of croutons as well.
You remember the empty crouton bag you saw on the office floor. You suspect the dog, who is addicted to carbs. You should have paid more attention in obedience class.
There is no time to make more croutons, as is your wont. You remember seeing a bag of pecan halves in the same cabinet you searched earlier.
You heat a skillet, preferably cast iron, pour in approximately 1 cup of pecans, and toast, stirring often, for a couple of minutes. Then you pour in 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, stirring fiercely for a minute or so until the liquid has evaporated and the pecans are coated with the sticky sugar.
You remove the pan from heat, and when the pecans have cooled, you separate them gently and add them to the salad. You are glad you made extra, since your husband/daughter/dog keeps coming in the kitchen and eating them.
The guests arrive, wondering what that lovely maple smell is. You smile coyly, and serve the salad. They do not notice the lack of croutons, engaged as they are in trying to find all the yummy pecans on their salad plate.