November is such a great month. The weather finally decides to be fallish, or to bring hellish rain in our case. Even so, trees are showing off their colors, and the air has become snappy. The clocks turned backward for an hour, so we come home in pitch dark, but the youngest can now wait at the morning bus stop in the light. Last week, he saw a deer across the road because it was neither light nor dark, and the deer hadn’t yet gone back into the trees.
We have the privilege of voting in November, and that makes it a month in which we hopefully contemplate and are thankful for our freedoms. We occasionally have a beautiful Saturday in November with which to rake or blow leaves, and we pick the last raggedy bit of the garden we planted months ago. We dig out our warmer clothes, fluff out the sweaters and hope we can fit into the same jeans from last year. We seriously shop for boots and scarves and begin to think about soups, home-made bread, firepits, and hot cocoa.
I love November because of the pumpkin pies, pumpkin bread, and sweet potatoes. A few weekends ago, our college-age girl came home and announced that it was time for her to learn to cook. She wanted pumpkin pie. I said, “OK,” and handed her the stuff to make it. She turned to me and said, “Now, for your perfect, mom-made, good-old, pumpkin pie recipe.” She held her hand toward me.
I smiled and put the can of pumpkin in her hand. “It’s on the back of the can.”
She gasped and rolled her eyes. “The BACK of the CAN? The back of the can? I thought…I thought you had some time-honored, all from scratch, fancy-dancy recipe for our pumpkin pie.”
“I do,” I said, “It is on the back of the can. I have been using the back of the can for my entire life. That makes it old, and it has always been good.”
She huffed, rolled the can to the back and kind of pushed me out of the way. “I got this, Mom.”
And she did. The pie was great, and I can’t wait for her to come home next week and make another one or two. We made banana nut bread last weekend and put two loaves in the freezer. We will make some pumpkin bread to go along with the coconut, chocolate, and chess pies that we will make when our son and his lovely new wife get in.
I do love to bake from old recipes, and November is the perfect month to warm up the oven and try new things. I want to share my recipe for Banana Nut Bread. Or, you can call it cake, if you want. This recipe is from my grandmother’s sister. She was a terrific cook, and she and I had a great friendship over the years. She also wrote a column in her local newspaper, which I grew up reading. One day, she and I were talking about cake, and she made me write this recipe down. I still use the same carefully folded piece of typing paper, I wrote on back in 1980. It has a few stains, but at the top, I titled it “Aunt Era’s Banana Nut Cake.”
3 Cups of Sugar
1 Cup of Shortening
2 teaspoons of Vanilla
4 eggs — add one at a time
Mix together until creamy then add the following:
3 ½ cups Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup buttermilk (if you don’t have any, you can pour a capful of vinegar into regular milk and let it set for a few minutes. It will curdle)
6 small Bananas - I mash these with a fork on a plate
1 cup chopped Pecans
Mix it all together. The mix will feel heavy and dry until you add the bananas. This is a thick cake batter. Pour into greased bread pans or a Bundt pan.
Bake at 350 for about an hour. Insert toothpick to check the center for doneness.
Make some for this week to test and then some for next week to share on Thanksgiving.
November has been great so far and will only get better when I get the text saying, “Our plane has landed. Come get us Gramsie!”