In one of my many former lives, I lived and worked in Columbia, Missouri, where I was a graduate instructor in English and a grader for an English professor at the University of Missouri from 1969-1971, while working on my MA degree in English there.
I recall clearly my first sight of the woman who became my friend Kathy. Sometime during those years, I had probably trotted past the quadrangle full of war protesters on my way to the next class on my teaching schedule, freshman composition. I may have been wearing my favorite leather miniskirt, which I wish I’d kept just so I could be shocked today at what I once wore out in public.
As I took roll, I became aware that the class was almost entirely young men, their fresh and pimply faces upturned with various teenage looks of disdain or eagerness. But in the corner of the back row as far as possible from all of them sat a young woman with long black hair and an expression of loathing-- whether for the boys, for me, or for the class, I wasn't sure.
I don’t recall the details of the class that day, but as the others filed out, I asked her to stay and tell me who she was and what she was doing in my class. As I’d guessed, she was a senior, an art major who had left the dreaded freshman comp class until her last semester, hoping she could wiggle out of it. But the University had decreed she had to take it.
I couldn't absolve her. I asked her what she was reading.
I had no knowledge of Goethe, but we worked out a plan whereby she would write a comprehensive paper on Goethe's writings, presenting it to me several weeks before the class was scheduled to be finished. I didn't want her to neglect the paper in the rush to graduate, but I also was protecting myself; if she failed to deliver, I'd have time to devise an alternate plan.
The next morning I rode my bicycle to work as usual, locking the frame to one of the racks outside the English building and hauling the front tire up the steps with me. I threaded my way among the glass-walled cubicles of my fellow slaves-- I mean graduate instructors-- and thumped my books down on my desk. As I tucked the tire behind my desk, I realized there was a shiny package on my chair: a loaf of bread wrapped in tin foil.
On the outside of the package was a note from Kathy, explaining that she had been in St. Louis recently, and been handed a recipe for Pumpkin Bread by a hippie who told her that receiving the recipe required her to give it away-- with love-- to anyone who asked.
The bread was delicious.
I learned that Kathy lived only a few blocks from me and we became close friends for the rest of the time I lived in Missouri. She graduated in fine style and eventually moved to Montana; we remain friends.
So now I've been baking the pumpkin bread and giving it away for at least 43 years, always with the recipe and the reminder to give it away-- with love.
This week I baked loaves of the bread to donate to the Hermosa Arts and History Association’s fundraising Winter Carnival on December 8. Inside each one, I tucked the recipe, with love.
Besides my pumpkin bread, I’m taking pumpkin cake and rhubarb dreams for dessert, and a roaster full of posole. I’m told that other volunteers will bring soups including cheese, beef barley, potato knefla, chicken noodle, cheese tomato, and gluten free chicken and rice.
You're invited to the second annual Winter Carnival, which is being held to raise funds to continue with our project to turn our building, erected in 1896, into a community gathering spot and museum. As usual, we will be serving soup and desserts created by HAHA members, and offering a huge assortment of tasty things baked by volunteers, as well as providing games and entertainment for children and photographs with Santa Claus.
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Pumpkin Bread Recipe
1 and 3/4 Cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon each:
1 teaspoon each:
1 and 1/2 Cups brown sugar
1/2 Cup oil
1/3 Cup water (but see below)
1 small can, or one Cup pumpkin
3 and 1/2 Cup flour
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 and 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoon each:
2 teaspoon each:
3 Cups brown sugar
1 Cup oil
2/3 Cup water (but see below)
2 cans, or 2 Cups pumpkin
Mix dry ingredients; mix liquids in separate, huge bowl. Add dry ingredients a little at a time to liquids, mixing well each time.
Grease pan(s) well. Bake 350 degrees F. for 1 hour and 15 minutes or so, until top springs back when you poke it lightly with one finger. Cool before removing from pan.
Doubled, this makes 2 large loaves and 1 small one or 4 9x3; grease well.
Substitute for brown sugar: 3 Tablespoons molasses added to 1 Cup white sugar
Can use whole wheat flour, but half white and half whole wheat works best.
WATER: If you use canned pumpkin, or frozen yellow squash you won't need the water, and no one will know it's not pumpkin. I've also used dried pumpkin and dried winter squash for this; just soak it in milk or water overnight in the refrigerator, and add the milk with the pumpkin or squash.
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For more information: See the HAHA website at www.HermosaHistory.org
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