>apples & thyme

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I’m just under (maybe a touch over?) the wire on this one, but here’s my post for apples & thyme. A tribute to my mom, on a most apropos day.

Growing up, my mom cooked every day, wending her way artfully through four kids’ appetites and dislikes, plus a husband who had Midwestern tastes – Momma is Italian. She had such a knack for picking out recipes – amazing things like gumbo, chicken cordon bleu, bananas flambe. Not to mention the weekly (or so) pasta installment, with homemade spaghetti sauce that simmered all day.

Dinner in the Adams household was an EVENT – everyone knew not to call from 6 to 7pm because we would be HAVING DINNER. If you happened to be around, you would be ushered to the table with the rest of the herd; if you were there often enough to become one of us, Dad would correct your table manners.

Momma’s cooking was always surefooted, experimental, and full of love. She didn’t measure, winged things, made substitutions even when she hadn’t tried a recipe before. She inspired me. By second grade I was picking out recipes to make dinner for the family myself.

The true treasure, beyond all this, was the sense of tradition and joy surrounding certain culinary creations. Christmas brought strufoli, and autumn brought pumpkin donuts. I so vividly recall sitting watching Fraggle Rock, awaiting the donuts and the chance to start carving my jack-o-lantern. The donuts were our celebration of fall, a time to invite friends to come and join us in our warmth and familial ties. Every year, as soon as the school year dawned anew, we would start dreaming of those donuts.

When I was younger, there were whole donuts, cut perfectly with a glass and then a smaller one for the hole. But the larger donuts always sat, and over the years there were larger and larger preponderances of holes – till there were only holes. They became less perfectly round… but there were always more than we could eat.

When we came to Minneapolis three years ago, I wasn’t sure how to continue the tradition… but back home Momma started hosting an annual pumpkin donut party. She invited friends, made donuts, tea and coffee and opened her home, widening the circle of family ever outward.

The first year here I didn’t know enough people to invite, well, anyone. My mother-in-law came to visit and I initiated her into the tradition; we ate to our hearts’ content.

Last year I followed in Momma’s footsteps, opening our little home to friends. Five came and munched, sucking down cider with me.

Today there were nearly twenty people clustered in our tiny little abode, with fresh donuts churning out every few minutes – till we were nearly roll-able. My second annual Pumpkin Donut Party, with years and years of this ahead of me, and it was lovely – just like my Momma.

Pumpkin Donuts

2 eggs, beaten
1 cup pumpkin pureed
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
4 cups flour
2 tsp salt

4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger

Beat eggs and sugar together till light and fluffy. Combine oil, buttermilk and pumpkin and add to egg mixture. Sift the dry ingredients together. Add to the pumpkin mixture. Chill 1 hour. Turn out the dough on a floured surface. Roll it out to 1/2 inch thick and cut into desired shapes. Drop donuts into deep hot oil (375 degrees). Donuts will rise to the surface. Turn them once so both sides brown. Remove and drain well. Roll in sugar and enjoy!

** Best eaten hot and fresh out of the frying oil – unfortunately they don’t keep well once made. The dough DOES keep well in the fridge – we just keep the deep fryer out on the counter for a week or so for spontaneous batches.

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0 thoughts on “>apples & thyme

  1. >What a lovely post. I am copying that recipe madly. I go overboard with pumpkin recipes this time of year, and my family would love something different. Thank you!My parents hosted an open house buffet on New Year’s Day every year. I started the same tradition when I moved away. I don’t get the hundreds of people my parents did (thank goodness…no room for them!), but my neighbors and friends in my tranplanted home crowd in. Good times!SBW

  2. >I found your blog through ‘small is beautiful’ and i must say that I love your story about yuour mother in the kitchen. absolutely fantastic. thank-you. also the donuts sound very yummy.

  3. >Oh what wonderful memories. Your mother sounds like a tremendous woman and a spirited cook. I had forgotten the fall tradition of homemade donuts from my childhood until you wrote this. Thank you so much for participating!Jeni

  4. >Keri – you’re so close, next year you’ll have to come for the party!SBW – hope your family enjoys them!I’m liking the New Year’s Day event.. I might swipe that idea!Bhavana – thanks for stopping by! I’m heading over to your blog now…passionate palate – thank you so much for this wonderful idea. I can’t wait to read everyone else’s stories and recipes! And I can’t tell you how it warms my heart to know that we weren’t the only donut eating family each fall – it’s such a time of joy for me that I’m glad the circle went beyond just us. :)

  5. >Elle, I love how you’ve carried on the tradition of donut eating (and making). Not only is it comfort food, but comforting memories and associations as well. Thank you so much for joining us in Apples & Thyme

  6. >I am SOOOOOO excited to make this! I’ve been stealing recipes from Heidi and wooing everyone into thinking I can actually cook. I’m going to have to add this one to the repertoire.

  7. >I love family recipes and the stories behind them. What a lovely combination of ingredients in both that you shared with us here, Miss Eliza.The donuts really do sound scrumptious. I’ve never heard of a using pumpkin in this way.I will be checking out the other recipes contributed to “apples & thyme.” What a great blogging event. I hope it will become an annual tradition.

  8. >Kate (ooh, it’s hard to leave that i out!) – you CAN cook, you goof! I firmly believe that half of being a good cook is knowing how to pick out good recipes. You don’t have to make them up out of nowhere – otherwise we wouldn’t be eating much around here! :)QDB & Elaine – thanks for the compliments! I think this is my favorite meme (or whatever you’d call it) ever. Celebrating the women who inspired us and loved us through can never be done enough!

  9. >frances – you know what strufoli are?!?! Hooray! We’ll have to compare recipes… I’m planning on posting about it, too. Did you all have to sit around the table and cut them up? I have so many memories of us all doing that… :)

  10. >Hooray for family traditions, especially those based on sharing mass amounts of food! Oh man–Fraggle Rock. I grew up watching that, too.Thanks for sharing the yummy recipe and story! Now I want a donut!

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