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Food, family and blessings abound at Thanksgiving

November 29, 2011

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was at my childhood home in Clinton with my mom, Rachel Marquez. I was sitting on a barstool that just barely put my head above the kitchen counter. My mom had a huge bowl, there were various items covering the counter and usually there was a good bit of flour scattered around. My mom was getting ready to bake pumpkin bread, and I cannot remember a Thanksgiving in my entire life that we haven’t eaten some.
I had one important job during the painstakingly long process — or so it seemed to my 5-year-old self — to sift the flour while my mom slowly stirred it in. At this point, I was allowed to actually sit on the counter so I could reach the bowl. I loved that old metal sifter and the crazy noise it made. More than that, though, I just loved spending that time with my mom. It made me feel important to be trusted with what I was sure at the time was the most magical and important part of the recipe.
Of course, as time went by and I moved on, it became a rarity that I would actually be at home while the baking was going on. But I can tell you this for certain: It just wouldn’t feel like home to me, no matter where I was on Thanksgiving, without knowing my family would be there and my mom would be sending me home with my very own loaf of pumpkin bread.
This year, since we had our dinner at my sister Amy’s house in Jackson, Amy made sure we had all of the trimmings covered. To be honest, we had so much food that I jokingly asked which small army would be joining us. There were four of us total and enough food for 20. She even made a new dish this year that everyone fell in love with, a baked macaroni and cheese made with Parmesan, cheddar and ricotta. I appreciate so much that my sister invites us to her house each year, takes care of all of the arrangements and graciously does the bulk of cleaning and cooking. As I sat at the table with my mom, my sister and my husband, with plenty of delicious food to go around, I realized how incredibly lucky I am. I was so thankful that we had plenty of food, knowing that so many would go without. I felt so blessed to have a mother who loves me, a sister who has always taken care of me and a husband who has a heart of pure gold that I will never stop thanking God for sending my way.
When it was time for us to go, loaded down with half of my sister’s tupperware and our very own loaf of pumpkin bread, I said a quiet thank you to God, knowing that I am blessed beyond the telling.
My Mama’s Pumpkin Bread

In a large bowl, combine:
u 3 cups sugar
u 1 cup oil
u 4 large eggs                                                
u 1- 15oz. can pumpkin
In a separate bowl, sift together: 
u 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
u 2 tsp. baking soda
u 2 tsp. salt                                                        
u 1 tsp. baking powder                                                        
u 1 tsp. nutmeg
u 1 tsp. allspice
u 1 tsp. cinnamon                                                        
u 1/2 tsp. cloves                                                        

Slowly stir dry ingredients, along with 2/3 cups water, into wet ingredients.
Use electric mixer to better combine wet and dry ingredients.
Grease and flour two 9-by-5 inch loaf pans.  Pour half of mixture into each pan. 
Bake on center rack of oven at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours, or until toothpick comes out of center clean. Very good served with whipped cream/cool whip.

My Sister’s Baked Macaroni with Parmesan, Cheddar and Ricotta cheeses
u 1 lb elbow macaroni
u 1 lb cheese (any combination of mild Cheddar, Parmesan and Ricotta)
u 1/4 lb margarine, melted
u 6 eggs
u 2-13 oz cans evaporated milk
u bread crumbs (optional)
u salt and pepper to taste
1) Cook macaroni according to directions in salted, boiling water. Drain well and dump in large bowl. Add cheese, grated. (Save 1/4 cup for sprinkling on top.) Stir in cheese until melted.
2) Stir in margarine and eggs. (No need to beat; just stir well to distribute evenly.)
Add milk. Salt and pepper to taste. Mixture will be fairly liquid.
3) Pour mixture in 9x13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle reserved cheese (and bread crumbs, if you want) on top. Bake in 350 degree over for 45 minutes, or until mixture is set throughout the entire dish.  

Angie Carnathan is a general assignment reporter for Starkville Daily News.  She can be reached at sdnreporter@yahoo.com.

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