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Tiaras and Trucks

Monday, April 4, 2011

Christmas Begins - RemembeRED

This week’s RemembeRED prompt was to think of a sound or a smell that reminds you of something from your past and write a post about that memory.

I am positive I didn’t do my mom’s pumpkin bread justice with this post, but I had to write about it. Even now, it’s the smell of holidays and warmth and family for me. Pavlov should have ditched the bell and used a pan of my mom's pumpkin bread to show conditioned reflexes.  I get excited to buy a new pumpkin spice candle each year and can’t wait for the pumpkin spice lattes to hit the coffee shops. Despite having her recipe, it’s not the same unless she makes it, so I just wait for hers. Only nine more months…


Christmas Begins

Long before there were salmonella warnings, there were children leaning against their mothers in the kitchen, waiting to dip little fingers into some delicious, unbaked concoction that would later become a special treat.

I was one of those children.

Now, my mom isn’t the mom who always had fresh baked cookies on the table when we came home from school. She was more likely to be found cleaning the kitchen than baking in it, the scent of Murphy’s Oil Soap overtaking my senses as I walked in the door.

But when the weather turns cold, and Christmas carols begin to trickle onto the loudspeakers at department stores (which in my childhood didn’t happen until after Thanksgiving), my mother pulls out her baking shoes. Lying dormant the rest of the year, my mom’s baking genes come alive around the holidays, when she expertly crafts a few perfected recipes.

Every year, I fidgeted, waiting for my mom to open the canned pumpkin. Every year, I immediately poked my finger quickly into the bright orange mound and then quickly into my mouth, shocked each time that it wasn’t the sweet batter I remembered.

Calmly, she let my brother and I add ingredients to the mustard yellow Corelle mixing bowl, checking the blue and white recipe card, though she probably knew the measurements by heart.

Patiently, she folded in sugar and eggs and flour and spices, mixing it all with a hand mixer, making sure that my eager fingers didn’t find their way between the whirling metal beaters.

As the bright orange of the pumpkin darkened with the addition of flour and cinnamon and nutmeg, the familiar scent of Christmas flooded my senses. The slight bitterness of the pumpkin was coaxed into something warm, spicy, and sweet, a batter that promised to chase away the snow and cold.

With a practiced, steady hand, my mom poured thick batter into bread pans, sliding them into the preheated oven.

My brother and I were each handed a metal beater to lick clean, our little tongues wrapping around the metal to find every drop of the spiced, yet sugary, batter.

The warm smell of my mom’s pumpkin bread filled our house as she made loaf after loaf, allowing them to cool before wrapping them in aluminum foil to be stored the week or two until Christmas.

As the batter baked into bread in our brown oven, the Christmas season began.

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23 Comments:

  • At April 5, 2011 at 8:23 AM , Blogger livingsj77 said...

    You do a really good job of describing the smell: "The slight bitterness of the pumpkin was coaxed into something warm, spicy, and sweet, a batter that promised to chase away the snow and cold."

    I love that! I think you do the bread plenty of justice. I'm totally hungry now.

     
  • At April 5, 2011 at 10:40 AM , Anonymous Leighann said...

    That's a yummy memory.
    My mon didn't bake much so I'm trying to do more so my kids will have these memories.

     
  • At April 5, 2011 at 11:50 AM , Anonymous Amy said...

    My mom NEVER made anything, unless it was premade dough that she slapped on a cookie sheet. My Grandpa always, and still does, the baking.

    This makes me very hungry!

     
  • At April 5, 2011 at 12:15 PM , Anonymous Miranda said...

    Ugh. Today's posts are making me so hungry! I need some pumpkin muffins now and it's supposed to be spring time!

    Good job!

     
  • At April 5, 2011 at 1:16 PM , Anonymous Tracy Morrison said...

    This is wonderful. I can smell it baking. I still let my kids eat the batter. I think it's okay in moderation, please say yes? Lovely story!

     
  • At April 5, 2011 at 2:50 PM , Anonymous Mamatrack said...

    This is a great piece. It took me there with you.

    I love how you describe the smell of Christmas to you. I can imagine it. And it smells yummy!

     
  • At April 5, 2011 at 3:31 PM , Anonymous Roxanne Loop said...

    I think you did a fantastic job! I am right there with you, smelling the deliciousness.

     
  • At April 5, 2011 at 4:21 PM , Anonymous Kir said...

    Oh sweetie, I was standing in that kitchen licking that mixer with you. I could smell the pumpkin and the cinnamon, the heat of the oven, see the bread cooling.
    This was wonderful and warmed me right down to my toes.

     
  • At April 5, 2011 at 6:53 PM , Anonymous JennaFarelyn said...

    I loved this! Your use of color and scent were great, and I could sure remember the feeling of anticipation wanting for the batter spoon and bowl!! Great job!

     
  • At April 5, 2011 at 10:42 PM , Anonymous GalitBreen said...

    Oh I'm so with you right there in that Murphy's oil cleaned kitchen! Memories with food, cooking together are so very powerful!

    I loved this part: "As the bright orange of the pumpkin darkened with the addition of flour and cinnamon and nutmeg, the familiar scent of Christmas flooded my senses. The slight bitterness of the pumpkin was coaxed into something warm, spicy, and sweet, a batter that promised to chase away the snow and cold." because of the imagery, the descriptions, the powerful word choices.

     
  • At April 5, 2011 at 11:09 PM , Anonymous Helene1108 said...

    I loved this....I could practically smell Christmas in the air from the way you've written this!!!

    Best of all, you have a lovely memory to recall on every year at Christmas!

     
  • At April 6, 2011 at 9:40 AM , Anonymous Thekitchwitch said...

    What made me smile most were your remembrances of the colors of the mixing bowl and the oven. God, what were they thinking in the 60's and 70's? We had avocado green.

     
  • At April 6, 2011 at 7:48 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Weren't the colors terrible? No wonder they are so burned into my memory!

     
  • At April 6, 2011 at 7:49 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    And my mom's bread to eat every year at Christmas. Yummmm!

     
  • At April 6, 2011 at 7:50 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thank you! I could have just as easily written about the Murphy's Oil Soap; my mom loved that, and I still use it to do my wood floors when I am feeling ambitious!

     
  • At April 6, 2011 at 7:50 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Yes, how great was that moment when you were given the spoon to lick?

     
  • At April 6, 2011 at 7:51 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thank you :) I'll have to send some over at Christmas!

     
  • At April 6, 2011 at 7:51 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thank you! It is definitely delicious.

     
  • At April 6, 2011 at 7:52 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    It's my favorite holiday for sure (well, maybe now my kids' birthdays).

     
  • At April 6, 2011 at 7:53 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I hope it's ok in moderation. Abbey ate some chocolate chip cookie dough yesterday. Oops :)

     
  • At April 6, 2011 at 7:53 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I know! It's so cold & rainy here, and writing this makes it feel like fall instead of spring.

     
  • At April 6, 2011 at 7:54 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Aw Grandpa baking is fantastic! That's even better than a mom doing it.

     
  • At April 6, 2011 at 7:54 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Abbey loves "baking" with me. Of course, with my kitchen aid mixer, it's pretty much just dumping stuff into the bowl and mixing!

     

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