Holidays are my favorite. It’s not a secret that I love to decorate. You will get to know that about me the more time we spend together. And if you are my family or friend, well, you just know.
I grew up in a small house in Arizona. Well, the majority of it was spent in Arizona, although we moved quite a bit. I have little pockets of time that we stayed put, when times were good and things were happy. Some of my favorite memories were the holidays. My mom loved to bake and cook. She was so good at it. And she would go all out for the holidays. I also remember how hard she made making lasagna sound. She would go on for days about the work she put into lasagna for Christmas Eve dinners. And what a treat it was for us to have it. LOL. I know now, that lasagna is not that hard to make. But it was her little secret back then. It was one of my favorite meals and the holiday was always beautiful.
She would bake pumpkin and banana bread in Folders coffee cans. I remember this, but I never learned how to do it. But I remember how good the bread tasted. And breads are part of my specialty today. I think a piece of making them makes me feel like she is here with me and it’s a sweet memory I have of my mom.
When my mom passed away I spent a week at my sister’s house in Arkansas. And I got to spend some quality time with my sister and her beautiful grandkids. My little great niece Taylor had never baked before. What a sweet memory this will always be for me.
We went to the store and got all of the ingredients and when we came home I remember grabbing her hand and saying, “first, we take off our heels”. She is so fashionable, for a little 7 year old, and she had little bootie heels on like I did. I took mine off and put them in the entryway. Later I snapped this cute pic of our shoes. She took hers off and lined them up right next to mine.
We made Chocolate Chunk Pumpkin Muffins! My absolute favorite! During my trip we made 2 double batches because everyone was eating them up! My brother LOVED them and even my nephew Tyler who is really picky had a few.
My mom would have loved this scene. Her life was definitely not filled with bliss, but these are the moments she let me carry with me. The times she would bake in the kitchen. Banana Bread, Strawberry Rhubarb pie, Lemon Meringue Pie….she made amazing treats when I was little. And I carry the little memories of these sweet times in my pockets. And they help me push out all of the bad ones.
This January was the one year anniversary of her passing. And there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her. I hope she is dancing in heaven! She loved to dance! Just like me! I love you Mama!
Chocolate Chunk Pumpkin Bread:
1 c. cooked pumpkin, 1/3 c. vegetable oil, 2 eggs, 1 1/2 c. sugar, 1/2 t. salt, 1/2 t. cloves (most important ingredient, don’t skip it), 1/2 t. cinnamon, 1 2/3 c. all purpose flour, 1 t. baking soda, 1 1/2 c. chocolate chunks
Combine pumpkin, oil, eggs in a large bowl. Add sugar, salt, cloves, cinnamon, flour, and baking soda. Mix to blend. Stir in your chocolate chips at the end. Grease the pan (I use coconut oil spray) Bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. Or until bread tests done with wooden toothpick.
A few of my tricks (every good baker has them 🙂 You can easily substitute gluten free flour and it is delicious. I use Namaste Flour Blend (I get it at Costco) but Cup 4 Cup is amazing as well. I usually don’t bake it for the full 90 minutes. Depending on the pan size, it is usually 1 hour. (My cousin tells me it is SOOOOOO good! Love you Sammy) AND when you take it from the oven, flip it out onto a piece of foil and wrap it up tight, right away. This locks in the flavor and keeps it moist. MMMMMmmmm good! Moist and delicious! No dry bread in this house! Mama would be proud!
This recipe makes 2 loaves.