DEAR ABBY: My wife and I made a serious mistake. We told some friends that we were planning a vacation cruise and when we were going. We always travel alone because who can take another couple 24 hours a day for 12 days? We like to do our own thing our own way.
Well, one couple -- good friends of ours -- casually mentioned they might be joining us and we are horrified at the thought. Where do people get the idea that they can invite themselves on someone else's vacation? We don't want to insult them or cause hurt feelings. How do we tell them that we prefer to travel alone without hurting their feelings? -- HORRIFIED IN FLORIDA
DEAR HORRIFIED: Some people assume they are closer friends than they actually are, and others do not understand boundaries. Waste no time in telling these "good friends" that you use these vacations to PRIVATELY renew the romance in your marriage -- and that as much as you like them, having them along on your vacation would destroy the intimacy. Then cross your fingers.
DEAR ABBY: Several years ago you printed a letter from a woman named Elizabeth, concerning your pecan (or walnut) pie recipe. You printed the recipe along with the letter.
I tried out both the pecan and walnut variations on my family. They liked both, but preferred the walnut.
In August, I entered a walnut pie (using your recipe) in the San Mateo County Fair. Abby, it not only took first place, but also won the Judge's Choice Award. (The Judge's Choice Award is first place among the first place winners!) Needless to say, I was thrilled.
Since you did say, "Please let me know how yours came out," I just thought you'd like to know. Thank you, Abby. -- CAROL TULLOH, SAN FRANCISCO
DEAR CAROL: My congratulations! I'm delighted that the pecan/walnut pie recipe served you so well. Your letter made my day! The recipe was included in my booklet "Dear Abby's Favorite Recipes" (my first of two cookbooklets). But for those who may not have time to order it before the holidays, here's the recipe:
ABBY'S FAMOUS PECAN PIE
9-inch unbaked pie crust
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 heaping cup pecan (or walnut) halves
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare pie crust. In large bowl, combine corn syrup, sugar, eggs, butter, salt and vanilla; mix well. Pour filling into prepared pie crust; sprinkle with pecan (or walnut) halves.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until center is set. (Toothpick inserted will come out clean when pie is "done.") Cool. If crust or pie appears to be getting too brown, cover with foil for remaining baking time.
You can top it with a bit of whipped cream or ice cream, but even plain -- nothing tops this! (Serves 8 to 10.)
TIP: The original recipe stated that the pie should be baked 45 to 50 minutes in a preheated 350-degree GAS oven. If an electric oven is used, it may be necessary to add 15 to 20 minutes to the baking time. (Begin testing the pie with a toothpick after 45 minutes.)
Abby shares her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "Abby's More Favorite Recipes." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 per booklet ($4.50 each in Canada) to: Dear Abby Cookbooklets I and II, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600