Pumpkin Bread Adventures


This past Wednesday, February 16th, marked what would have been my mom’s 77th birthday.  Since she slipped the bonds of time four years ago, I imagine she no longer counts the years in the same way.  “A thousand years are but one day with God,” 2nd Peter claims.  But we still count them!  And each year in her memory, my family has been celebrating her birthday by baking pumpkin bread.

Anyone who knew my mom knew of her pumpkin bread.  She baked it for neighbors and friends each Christmas, but also to welcome newcomers to the block or to acknowledge a family who’d lost a loved one.  She made it in 16 oz. tin soup cans, meticulously cleaned out of their corn kernels or green beans, lathered with with Crisco and dusted with flour.  As her children, we always hoped a loaf would break in the attempt to remove it from the can… because we would get to eat those.  Once cooled, loaves would be wrapped in saran wrap, then tinfoil, then a sheet of colored tissue paper secured with one piece of scotch tape and tied on both ends with curling ribbon.  If your family had more than four children, you would get two wrapped together like a long sausage, or one made from a 32 oz. can of crushed tomatoes.

The loaves were nothing fancy, but everyone loved them, mostly because they felt loved when eating them.  They knew that behind every flour crusted cylinder and sometimes slightly gooey middle  (It is VERY difficult to bake evenly in tin cans!) was a woman who was thinking about them, watching out for them, ready to listen to them.  A woman always available to laugh with you or cry with you or watch your kid when you needed to make a quick run to the post office.

Neighbors like my mom are harder and harder to come by nowadays.  My husband and I have lived for a year now in the same apartment building and we haven’t even introduced ourselves to our neighbors on either side.  Indeed we aren’t sure if anyone is living in the apartment to the left of ours.  That is rather embarrassing to admit, as my mom would have already organized an outdoor block party for the whole building.  But if you would like to join my family in trying to be a “good neighbor” this February, we would like to share our mom’s recipe with you.  I would say it was a “top secret” recipe, but honestly it probably can be found in the old Our Lady of Sorrows Parish Cookbook. So, we’ll just call it “tried and tested” instead.  It should make six soup cans, or for those of you who believe in more standard baking implements—two loaf pans.  But why would you want only two when there are so many neighbors out there needing a little love?  And a lesser chance that one would get broken… yum.

Dianne’s Pumpkin Bread

3 c flour

3 c sugar

½ tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp salt

1 tsp cloves

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

1 c vegetable oil

1 c water

1 can of pumpkin (16 oz)

4 eggs

1 cup chopped nuts


Bake at 350 degrees till a knife comes out clean from the middle.