Cooking with Joy

Pumpkin bread spices up Thanksgiving table

November 12, 2013 

Thanksgiving is one of my very favorite holidays. I love everything associated with it – food, fellowship, family, friends, a fire in the fireplace, and, yes, football on TV.

It just doesn’t get any better than that as far as I’m concerned.

Thanksgiving never fails to bring back warm and happy childhood memories of this special day. In my hometown of Roanoke, Va., there was a football game on Thanksgiving Day between VMI. (Virginia Military Institute) and VPI. (Virginia Polytechnic Institute, known these days as Va. Tech). The game, known as the “Military Classic of the South,” was played from 1913 to 1969. The VMI. Keydets and the VPI. Cadet Corps arrived at the train station in the morning and marched through town to Victory Stadium, about three miles away. It was quite a spectacle.

This great college rivalry evoked deep loyalties in us at an early age. Even in elementary school we knew who was for VMI. or VPI. My best friend’s father went to VMI., so naturally I became a Keydet fan. We actually dressed up to go to the game in those days and wore ribbon corsages in the colors of our chosen school. My ribbons were, of course, red, white and yellow to show my allegiance to VMI.

I can remember the parade, the excitement of the game, the sweet aroma of my father’s pipe tobacco, the chill in the air, the cheerleaders, and the roar of the crowd.

It was magical.

However exciting the game was, making things even better was the knowledge that after it was over we were going home for Thanksgiving dinner. Coming into our house after the game was awesome. The aroma of a turkey dinner in the oven has a powerful effect on cold, hungry football fans, that’s for sure.

We knew there would be something for everyone at dinner. There would be oyster dressing for my brother, rice and gravy for me, and green beans cooked with a ham hock for my father. Aside from these mandatory dishes, there would be stuffing, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, pumpkin bread, and usually a pecan pie for dessert.

I have most of mother’s Thanksgiving recipes but not the one for pumpkin bread. She must have loaned it to a friend because it was lost. I tried some recipes but they weren’t the same. Thanksgiving dinner just didn’t seem complete without that bread.

The good news is that our son solved the problem. He came home from a neighbor’s house raving about the pumpkin bread they served him. I immediately got the recipe and tried it. It turns out that our neighbor’s pumpkin bread was a dead ringer for my mother’s. The search was over.

That delicious bread is now on our Thanksgiving table again. Now it can be on yours, too.

Pumpkin Bread

3 1/2 cups sifted flour

3 cups sugar

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. allspice

1/2 tsp. cloves

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

2 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 cup water

1 cup oil

4 eggs

2 cups pumpkin

1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Sift dry ingredients together. Make a well in the center and add other ingredients. Pour batter into three greased loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Baste with some melted butter about 15 minutes before done. Let stand 10 minutes. Remove from pan to cool. Makes three loaves.

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