Tag Archives: food

Black Friday in the kitchen

Forget Black Friday shopping, its more fun to spend the day in the kitchen making comfort food. The only thing I cooked on Thanksgiving was some hot spiced tea, so it didn’t quite satisfy the urge.

I missed my mother on Thanksgiving  and I was also away from my other mother- my dad’s wonderful wife.  She was across the country with her family, and baked a record 15 pies which I can guarantee (in absentia) were absolutely delicious.

Maybe it was the holiday spirit, the longing for far away family, or the desire to create with my bare hands. I stayed away from the mall and spent a freakishly-warm afternoon baking (84 degrees! Its supposed to be November!).  I chose pumpkin pie- my stepmother’s signature holiday treat and my very favorite since childhood.

I’m not a very experienced baker.  Surprising from someone who grew up in the Midwest, but I don’t remember my mom baking anything beyond a frozen pie from the grocery store or occasionally popping open a can of Pillsbury dinner rolls. And to be fair, it wasn’t something I showed any interest in until I was in my mid-twenties,and I was living across the country from my stepmom, the pie guru, and my stepsister, the cookie guru. Thank goodness there is the internet.

I don’t have 15 pies to show for my efforts, but for the first time I roasted a fresh sugar pumpkin to be used instead of the standard canned pumpkin.  I also made my own pie crust.  This newbie baker was proud of herself!  It tasted amazing, and I know my stepmom would give the pie her stamp of approval.

From cleaning out the guts of the sugar pumpkin to the delightful rhythm of flattening out dough with a rolling pin, the wonderful spicy sweetness of the pumpkin wafting through the house, and, finally, the first delicious bites, it was a wonderful day that brought those that I love just a little bit closer.

maybe someday I’ll learn how to make pie crust look pretty

Nelda’s Fabulous Pumpkin Pie

  • 2 cup (1 can) pumpkin
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 1/4 t ground cloves
  • 1 can condensed milk

Mix ingredients in order listed.  Pour into deep dish pie crust. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes and 45 minutes at 350.  When done, the top of the pumpkin will be rounded and no longer shiny.  Will deflate with cooling.

Breakfast Club

On Sunday mornings, I miss Breakfast Club.  This gathering of my mother, stepfather, and their best friends occurred at a greasy-spoon breakfast joint every Sunday morning. While Mom loved going out for breakfast her entire life, the regularity of this ritual started around the time I was finishing up high school.   While the core group consisted of the three middle-aged couples, I often attended, as did my best friend, our significant others, and any other random smattering of friends who happened to be around on a Sunday morning and were interested in breakfast.

As options for smoking indoors were dwindling by the late 1990’s and smokers were an essential minority in our group, Breakfast Club could occur in only several locations around Minneapolis.  The type of place where tattooed waiters hustled coffee and bacon, you had to talk over the crowd, and there weren’t such things as reservations, or many tables that could seat 8+. So, we needed to meet at a time that could seem painfully early to me – 8:30. This was before my status as a morning-person was fully established. But even if I was out cavorting till the early morning hours, I still tried to drag my ass to breakfast, because it was that fun.  I’m sure I had more than one boyfriend think I was nuts for pulling myself out of bed and inviting him to come along to breakfast with family and friends at the ridiculous hour of 8:00AM.  But I often did.

It was particularly hard to get up during the wintertime.  My body felt heavy, and I longed to singer in sleep a little while longer, but the promise of great food and even better company called to me, and I pushed myself from the cocoon of my comforter.  I remember driving down icy streets, which were Sunday-quiet.  The sun was up, but shined a dim, bluish light on everything.

But I’d soon arrive at breakfast.  I would walk through the door and be assaulted with the smell of eggs and bacon, the sound of silverware clanking.  A brave heater vigorously pumped out the heat, further warmed by numerous bodies.   I chased down some coffee and felt the fatigue melt away, and happiness set in.  We would sit around a table, laugh about our week, complain about politicians or our jobs.  Mom and her girlfriends would tease me about my longing for a particular waiter, a rather-Emo man named James who would patiently flirt with me.  It provided such entertainment my parents would request that he be our server every Sunday.

Breakfast with those you love is always enjoyable, but my mom provided the glue to this gathering.  I think it was her joyful spirit that laid the foundation for such a diverse, dynamic group.  She somehow made it all possible, for years.

Of course, nothing lasts forever.  Friends quit smoking, and much to my chagrin Breakfast Club started often meeting in more-refined, non-smoking suburban locations.  What had been once a week became once a month or so. I became a nurse and suddenly lost half of my Sunday mornings to working at Hennepin County Medical Center.  My best friend moved to DC.  I moved to Tucson. My parents and one of the core couples of breakfast club needed to step away from their friendship.  All things go.

It was wonderful to have the space of Breakfast Club for 5+ years.  It provided community and connection for all of us.  I’d like to recreate it somehow.

A more modern version of Breakfast Club. Sedona, May 2008