October Thoughts: The Fire Department and Pumpkin Pie

A slice of homemade Thanksgiving pumpkin pie s...

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Let me preface this article with a quick apology to my Mother. You will soon understand…

I received the “cooking gene” from my grandmother, not my mother. My Grandma is from the south and she married twice, both to Italian men. Everything she made was “Grandma Good”.  I learned to cook by watching her all through my childhood. The thing about my Grandma was that there were no recipes just dashes and pinches. While I use many of her cooking methods, my flavors are never exactly like hers because my pinches and dashes are different–but they style is the same. My mother, is not a natural cook. She can cook, she has developed many succesful dishes over the years, but time with her in the kitchen has always been an adventure. My mother doesn’t cook with the same style as my grandmother, she cooks with flair!

My mother is very social and loves company. Sometimes the company just happens to be the fire department. Growing up, we were the family that had the smoke detector hanging by its wires from the ceiling while one of us usually had the kitchen chore of fanning the smoke. Even if it was 20 degrees outside, we would have the windows and doors open trying to work out the smoke from our dinner.  I believe one Thanksgiving, we had the fire department at our house two times before we got to eat. They didn’t have to search our address on the map anymore, sometimes they would just call, since they were now on a first name basis with my mom.

One year, we were lucky. There was no extra company from the fire department and my mom prepared a very successful Thanksgiving dinner, pies and all! It was delicious! The adventure happened after dinner. Fortunately, she had made two pies because as it turned out, the cat liked pumpkin. Who knew? Our black cat, Popcorn, had eaten the center out of one of the pies! My Mom had been so close to the perfect, unscathed, un-flamed meal! Damn the cat! Of course, we laughed until we cried, especially when we smoothed out the top of the pie like nothing happened and served it to my step-dad. Yeah, I know! That wasn’t nice. But my mom didn’t want a perfectly good pie (except for the cat bit) to go to waste!

I would like to add, that even though one may have the “cooking gene” it doesn’t mean you have no kitchen fouls. My sister, who shall not be named but knows who she is, caught a toaster oven on fire and three fire trucks arrived with a complete company of fully uniformed fire men. They heroically barreled through her home, valiantly grabbed the smoking toaster oven and threw it outside. Then they made an “official” report of the incident (behind lots of snickers and chuckles). We told her that she was taking extreme measures to get a date!

As for myself, I have not graduated to the fire trucks arriving for turkey dinner, but I have my own fair share of kitchen fouls. One of my worst was my first Thanksgiving with my husband. We had only been married 20 days or so and I really impressed him when I spilled an entire uncooked pumpkin pie contents into the oven, through the door cracks, onto the floor and across the kitchen. We didn’t eat pumpkin pie that night. (I would like to add, I also tried to kill him with that dinner because I also served raw chicken.)

Mom’s kitchen has cat attacks– my kitchen, sneaky dog paws! Last year, over Halloween, a certain dog decided it wanted the iced cookies. Who knows how many she scarfed down until she was caught. The evidence was striking…. orange icing on her snout, dog slobber on the cookie plate, over crowded and shoved cookies tumbling onto the table. I removed the most afflicted cookies and my kids couldn’t tell the difference. Bad Dog!

I have to contend that I believe the kitchen is the heart of the home. So many memories are made there. Stories are shared, laughter is contagious, permanent imprints of family, love and friends happen in the kitchen. And if all else fails… order out! (thanks, Mom!)


5 thoughts on “October Thoughts: The Fire Department and Pumpkin Pie

  1. Whenever I burn toast – just like mom used to make – I do what Mom taught us and scrape off the top layer of “flavor” and eat the rest….yummmy.

  2. OK, you got me. But ya know? I got more stories where that came from. I forgot how humorous cooking/torching dinner can be!!!
    Lucky girl….cooking genes come from the MOM side……

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