This was the first autumn in
years I didn’t cook my pumpkins. And without pumpkins there’s no fresh pumpkin pie.
But this year there would be no orange pulp to cook, puree, and squeeze through cheese cloth. No dough rolled out from my mother’s worn, wooden rolling pin. No flour dotted pages to turn on the warped old cook book (the one I didn’t need anymore as I knew the recipe by heart). It was the first cook book I ever had. The one given to me from my mother to make my first kitchen complete. The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cook Book.
This year the book would sit on a shelf. There would be no home made whip cream laced with nutmeg and vanilla to grace that gooey pumpkin custard. No flaky crust to hang down from the over sized pie dish with flowers on the bottom. My mother gave me that too.
I didn’t plan it that way. It just happened. Too busy. On vacation. For the first time it just didn’t feel important. I had proven to my mother once that I made a better pumpkin pie than her. She said so. And the truth was in her saying.
It was even good the year she pulled my pie from the oven and with one slip of her hands she flipped it over upside down on the oven door. We looked at each other and laughed. And as the guests waited in the candle-lit dining room with the cornucopia on the table, we quickly scooped up the mush and arranged it perfectly back in the crust. No one knew.
That was before the cancer came. Her body was strong and vibrant then, like her.
I think I’ve gotten my mother’s gravy down. The jury is still out. And my mother will never be able to tell me so. But I’ll know. Then there’s her southern biscuits to be made with sorghum, lemon meringue pie, and mincemeat pie.
There’s no rush. I have time ahead of me. Lots of time. And her notes in the margin to help. That swirly, on-the-go, right-slanted script I know by heart. It was shaky at the end. Unsteady and weak. But not this handwriting. The one in my cook book is dynamic and purposeful.
I don’t have to prove my pumpkin pie to
anyone anymore, least of all my mother. She’s been gone these last two Thanksgivings, but I know she’ll be part of my pumpkin pie forever.
Even if I don’t make it.
S. Cunningham Ortiz says
Talk about writing straight from the heart…Thanks for sharing such beautiful memories. I will forever equate you and your Mom with pumpkin pie. Both of you will be in my thoughts this Thanksgiving. (And good for you for not baking that pumpkin pie–as hard as it must have been!)
Stephanie, thanks for our sweet words. Yes, making pumpkin pie from scratch is a lot of work but worth it once a year 🙂 I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with special times and people!
J. Thomas Ross says
This is beautiful, Donna. Thanks so much for sharing. I didn’t have this with my mother, but with my grandmother. She was the baker, and she passed the traditions to me and I to my daughter. Unfortunately, I can’t find lard in the store anymore to recreate her crust!
Judy, how lovely you had that with your grandmother. Something always to cherish! Yes, “lard” is hard to find nowadays. I use a mix of shortening and butter. My mom used to use her own lard for the pie decades ago, although I cant imagine doing that now!
This is a wonderful reminder of how holidays are about remembering and giving thanks for people who have touched our lives.Thanks for sharing
Pauline, thanks for stopping by and so glad you enjoyed. Have a wonderful holiday!
Colleen Galanti says
Beautiful. I guess this year you will have to eat my homemade pumpkin pie. Probably not as good as your moms but I make it with love 🙂
Colleen, you’re a doll – thanks! 😉
Mina B. says
This is a beautiful post. It makes me miss my family too. Thanks for sharing.
Mina, so glad you enjoyed it. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Very beautiful words straight from the heart. Although she is not “gone”. as you know, we also will have an empty place at our table this Thanksgiving. But, we must count the blessings of the time we were able to share with our mothers and be greatful for the blessings we have with our family. We all have our own crazy ways, but, such as it is – we are still family and that’s what really counts. Life is precious.