Karen Redmond is part of a multigenerational cooking tradition, one that dates back to her grandmother, Elizabeth Renghofer, who came from Austria to the United States when she was 12 years old.
Karen, 60, shares with us a recipe that was originated by Elizabeth and passed down to her mother and now to her.
"Every Christmas my mother would make what she called Nusse Strudel. Although not your conventional strudel, that is what her Austrian-born mother called it," Karen says. "They grew pecans on their property in College Station, Texas, so the pecans were plentiful for the delicious filling."
She says that, growing up, the aroma of the pastry instantly meant the holidays had arrived in her house.
"I was quite young when I remember my mom receiving large quantities of the pecans in the mail from my grandmother. The pecans were from my grandmother's pecan tree in Texas. When the pecans arrived, we knew my mom's holiday baking would begin," Karen says.
As a child, Karen would watch her mom make the yeast creation. She remembers always sneaking a pinch of the raw dough, and her mom saying, "Leave some for me to roll out!"
Karen says her mom likely gravitated toward this strudel recipe because it made two strudels, and there were five kids in her family.
"She was very good at stretching a dollar for a family of seven," Karen says. "Once it was baked for the holidays, we ended up eating it all day long. But my mom always managed to save enough for our Christmas Day breakfast."
Karen started making the strudel after her mom sent her a box of pecans from her grandmother's pecan tree almost 30 years ago. She says the strudel was originally made with walnuts, but her grandma used what she had.
Karen hopes the Nusse Strudel tradition will live on in her children, Colleen, 31, and Elizabeth, 26, who both like to cook. She says they would help out with this holiday dessert recipe when they were young, coming in toward the end of the process, since Karen would start it in the morning while they were still sleeping.
"They got a kick out of seeing the dough rise in the bowl," she says.
Until recently, Karen would call this dessert a "Neu Strudel"; her mother told her it's actually "Nusse," which means nuts in Austrian and German.
"I took German in high school and didn't even recognize the word nusse for nuts. My teacher would not be happy with me."