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.
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup pumpkin puree
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