A taste for life

There is an undeniable comfort in the taste and texture of familiar food – not just the dish, but the recipe. A constant that a person can go back to again and again throughout their ever changing life. For me, it’s my grandmother’s pumpkin squares. My grandmother, and then my mother, would make them every Christmas Eve. Moist and fluffy with the perfection that is cream cheese frosting, they make you feel good every time you bite into them.

The first memory I have of them is not the taste or the sight of a tray-full, no, my first memory is seeing the recipe in our church’s cookbook. I was probably four or so and I thought that she would be famous because she’d written a cookbook with all of her friends at St. Paul’s. I think of all those ladies, their names typed next to the recipes they made for various church functions, fairs and family gatherings. Alice Dana, the woman who taught me to knit when I was four; Blanche Kraemer, my grandmother’s best friend who died close to twenty years ago; and Ruth Schuster, who was always large and full of life. They are all slipping away now, but still I have them with me in their constant recipes, recipes they were all very proud of.

A year or two ago, the church made a new cookbook with many of the same recipes originally published in 1981 only this time there were new names attached to them, names I don’t recognize. One such recipe was my grandmother’s pumpkin bars except the name Shirley Jennings was gone. She was furious. Someone had stolen her dish, her signature dish…she had been forgotten.

So here is the recipe, by Shirley Jennings, tried, tested, tasted and, as always, constant.

Pumpkin Bars

2 c. all-purpose flour

2 t. baking powder

1 t. soda

1/2 t. salt

2 t. cinnamon

1/4 t. ginger

1/2 t. cloves

1/2 t. nutmeg

4 eggs

1 c. salad oil (vegetable oil)

2 c. sugar

1 can pumpkin (16 oz.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg into a bowl. Combine eggs, salad oil, sugar and pumpkin. Mix until well blended and smooth. Add to dry ingredients. Mix well. Spread evenly into a lightly greased 13 x 9 x 2 baking pan. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until done.

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 pkgs. (8 oz.) cream cheese

1/3 c. butter

1 T. milk

1 t. vanilla

4 c. confectioner’s sugar

Cream together butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add milk and vanilla. Beat in confectioner’s sugar slowly, until all has been incorporated and the frosting is thick.


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Filed under Basics, Food

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