Tuesday, October 21, 2008

PUMPKIN MUFFINS

This week Kelly of Sounding My Barbaric Gulp chose Pumpkin Muffins for us to bake. Thank you Kelly - excellent choice! I made the muffins for our Sunday morning "linger at the table, read the newspaper, guzzle coffee" kind of breakfast. I used Craisens, extra cinnamon and allspice (because I like a kick to my pumpkin), walnuts and sunflower seeds on top. Just loved it all. There is not much I can say about the muffins other than they were out of this world delicious. They are the type of food that warms your loved ones insides before heading out on a cool autumn day. Perfect for October!
A little pumpkin history:
Pumpkins originated in Central America.
In early colonial times, pumpkins were used as an ingredient for the crust of pies, not the filling.
Pumpkins were once recommended for removing freckles and curing snake bites.
Colonists sliced off pumpkin tips; removed seeds and filled the insides with milk, spices and honey. This was baked in hot ashes and is the origin of pumpkin pie.

I am dedicating my blog this week to my sweet mom who passed away this year. She would have been 88 years old had she lived just three more days. This will be my first Thanksgiving and Christmas without her.

She grew up on a farm, the eldest daughter of eight children. She learned early in life to be content with little and yet she was the most generous person I have known. She learned to be a mom long before she married dad. I have two older brothers, but I was the baby and only girl so she spent a lot of time teaching me to cook and sew while the boys went hunting or fishing with dad. She was a formidable Rook player, sewed like Betsy Ross, crocheted, cut hair, kept the cleanest house on the block, and could make a bed as crisp as any soldier's bunk. She made beautiful quilts and afghans. She was the "June Cleaver" of moms.

Cooking was such a huge part of her life and thankfully I inherited her love for it. My early memories in the kitchen include the jobs she assigned to me while she prepared the family dinner. She had a way of making me feel as though my little jobs were the biggest, most important jobs of the entire dinner preparation. I got a lot of stirring experience. At five, it was stirring the sugar in the tea, then being promoted to stirring the egg and buttermilk into the cornbread around seven. I stayed right by her side (or maybe under her feet?) as she made cakes from scratch in her stand mixer, always showing me the right way to scrape the sides of the bowl, being cautious of the beaters (we didn't want any fingers to go missing). She helped me bake my first cake when I was around eleven. It was a birthday cake for my grandfather. I'm sure it was probably a disaster, but she seemed so proud of me and that cake.

She made biscuits every morning and cherished her bacon and eggs. One of my best food memories was her old-fashioned chicken and dumplings. She cooked such huge quantities of food we often joked with her about when the army was expected to arrive. Our family seemed to be built on the wonderful meals we shared together and there was always dessert. I think everyone's favorite was her teacakes which were stacked high on our plate with drizzled chocolate sauce on top.

Thanksgiving and Christmas were her favorite times of the year because she was able to show off her culinary talents. Cornbread dressing was her specialty. I will try and re-create her recipe this year, but mine will lack her secret ingredient - the love she tucked inside. There were always pumpkin and mincemeat pies at Thanksgiving, and red velvet and fresh coconut cakes at Christmas. One week before she passed away, she insisted on having a family get together and wanted to cook the entire meal herself. It was quite an undertaking for someone her age who tired easily, not to mention she had pneumonia at the time (which we would find out the next day), but she managed to pull it off. The dessert for that evening was her famous chocolate pie which she referred to as her "water pie" because it contained no milk. This was one of the last photos taken of her.
I am a better person today because of mom. So thank you mom, we miss you, and here's to you!
1920-2008
Thanks for letting me share. Now, for a little FUN stuff . . . .

"Pay it Forward" GIVE-AWAY. In honor of my mom, next week I will be giving away a giftcard to one lucky TWD'r. I wanted to do this because of how down everyone is about the economy. All you have to do is leave me a comment next Tuesday (October 28) with a promise that in a month or so you will pay it forward by having your own give-away, something of your choice of course. I will be using a random number generator to decide the winner - sorry there will only be one winner! I wish I could do more! Be sure to leave me your email address so that I can contact you if you win. I will announce the winner on Halloween! Good luck!

35 comments:

Engineer Baker said...

What a wonderful tribute to your mom, she sounds like she had a profound impact on people's lives. I'm glad these muffins let you remember her.

Cathy said...

What a sweet tribute to your mom, Peggy! I know that she is proud that you inherited her love of cooking. I bet she would have loved these muffins!

Pumpkin removes freckles AND cures snake bites? Why, it's the ultimate miracle food! Your muffins look great -- glad they were a hit!

Marthe said...

Lovely muffins and a lovely tribute to your mom!

lusciousfood.com said...

what a beautiful, beautiful post. you and your mother are both very lucky people. thank you for writing this.

natalia said...

Ciao Peggy ! I really felt near you while reading this. I'm sure all the things you will cook will have that special ingredient !

Amanda said...

Peggy, I am so glad you posted about your mom. She sounds like an amazing person. Your pictures are fabulous!!! I want you to know that I am looking forward to your give away so much that I am going to try to log on to your site from JAMAICA to comment.....

Jamie said...

Such a great post and beautiful muffins!

Anne said...

What a touching post about a beautiful woman. It seems she taught you a lot and I'm sure she's proud of your great cooking!

The muffins look wonderful and I have to say, I would eat more pumpkin if it really did the freckle thing. I love the history!

Candy said...

Your mom sounds like she was a wonderful person. Your muffins would make her proud.

Flourchild said...

Your muffins turned out great.

I LOVE the story of your sweet mother. I know she was so blessed to have a daughter like you. You made me cry...Im a softie too! I don't look fwd to that day I have to say goodbye to my parents. I love them so much. Thank you for a reminder that life is short and to hold on and love our loved ones while we can. Your mom is one special lady with so many gifts she left you to remember. Bless you!

Megan said...

That was such a touching story of your Mom! I was the youngest with 2 older brothers and a mom that could cook wonderful meals also. She, like your mom, passed that love on to me! I lost my dear parents 10 years ago. I know the feeling of being orphaned when they pass and the pain of missing them. I'm so sorry for your loss but may her memorie live on through you! Blessings my friend!

Pamela said...

What a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing so much about your mom. My mom has been gone for 9 years already and I think of her and miss her every day. I wish for a 1/4 of your mom's patience. Whenever I have one of those crazy moments in the kitchen with my boys, I wonder how our moms managed to keep their cool?! It's a talent that I'm working hard to acquire/improve.

The muffins look wonderful, by the way. :o)

Sabrina said...

I like the craisin idea... sounds better then raisins, which i did not use.
And what a nice tribute to your mom... Im sorry she is no longer with you, but what great memories you now have.

pinkstripes said...

I'm sorry for your loss this year. Your Mom sounds great. She would have loved these muffins. Yours look delicious. YUM!

Prudy said...

How sweet to read about your mom. She sounds like one amazing little woman. There's nothing like learning to cook from your mother. It makes the rest of your life in the kitchen a treat and not a chore. I loved your pumpkin info too, good to know if I ever come across a rattler. And of course the muffins. Lovely!

TeaLady said...

You are lucky to have had such a Mom. Sorry she is no longer with you. But every time you cook, she will be looking over your shoulder.

Your muffins look great. Bet they were good. Thanks for the history lesson. Lots of good things came from the Native Peoples.

Mary said...

I love the post about your mom....it makes me want to write about family members too. I also really enjoyed your pumpkin trivia info :). -Mary

Michelle said...

what a lovely story...even the history lesson was much appreciated! thanks so much. your pumpkin muffins were beautiful too!

CB said...

What an amazing tribute to your mother. I am sure she is proud of you and missing you too. Sounds like both had a very special bond.
Clara @ iheartfood4thought

n.o.e said...

OK, I cried my way through your entire post, Peggy. Lovely, lovely tribute. It's wonderful that you've kept so much that she gave you - especially the lessons she taught you as she helped you acquire those wonderful cooking skills.
Nancy

The Food Librarian said...

What a lovely tribute to your mom. You have inherited her skills and heart. Her memory will live on every time you share one of her recipes with your family.

SiHaN said...

your family is a tad like mine. Built on great food. The tribute you made to your mom was really sweet.

kittymama said...

Oh, your mom sounds wonderful. What an inspirational story for all of us to remind all of us how cooking can bring us together and share love.

Mandy said...

Your post was a very lovely tribute to your mom. I'm sure she was very proud that you inherited her love of cooking and baking.

The muffins look great!

Carmen Cooks said...

aww, that is a sweet giveaway. and such a sweet tribute to your mother - what a lovely woman! your muffins are also delicious-looking!

Lady Baker said...

what a beautiful post...

she'll always be there, y'know...never further than just over your shoulder as you stir and bake. (at least, that's how I like to think about my mom, anyway.)

Thanks for sharing about your mom--(and about pumpkins!)

:)Lisa

Katrina said...

Cute blog, haven't seen yours before (there's SO many!)
Love that you give history info about the foods.
LOVE the tribute to your cute mom!
Thanks for visiting my blog. TWD is so fun.

Laura said...

Thanks so much for sharing those wonderful memories of your mother with us - I'm going to call my Mom right now and thank her for all the wonderful things she's given me and all that she means to me! Beautiful post (and your muffins look great too!)

Liz said...

What a sweet entry. This was so nice to read in the midst of my blog-hopping. Best to you and your family!

Marthe said...

I'm afraid my muffin top is already to far advanced to be helped ;)

bakingwiththeboys said...

What a great post! I am sure your goods all have the love tucked inside.

Di said...

Peggy--Thanks for sharing the memories of your mom. My mom died earlier this year, too. I could have written a lot of your post--my mom taught me many of the same things, including how to cook, sew and crochet.

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

That's a great tribute to your mom. Sounds like she was an amazing woman. That chocolate/water pie sounds delicious.

I loved your bits about pumpkin too. Who knew it was used to "cure" such things as freckles!

Amanda said...

Sorry it took me so long to get over! There are so many TWS blogs it's hard to get to them all :) Your muffins look wonderful! I will add you to my blogroll so I don't miss you again :)

LyB said...

What a great post, very sweet. And your muffins look delicious. :)