We made lots of cookies in my house growing up, but the cookie that heralded the arrival of fall was pumpkin. When I walked in the door after school to that richly spiced air, I knew my favorite season was officially in full swing.
My mom snagged her pumpkin cookie recipe from another wife at an office party in the early 70s and has been making it ever since. That’s nearly 40 years of pumpkin cookies. It’s also one of the recipes I wrote home for when I lived in Yemen.
The passing of seasons was something I missed the most while living abroad. Yemen has dry and rainy seasons as opposed to our four distinct seasons in Arkansas. I wanted a way to help me feel like it was fall while the temperature was still in the 80s and the leaves still green and firmly attached to the trees.
My mom and sisters responded to my appeal and I soon had that coveted recipe. Now I needed pumpkin. More specifically, a pumpkin, since canned pumpkin was nowhere to be found in Yemen. Pumpkins grew in the north of the country, but they arrived by the truckload to the markets in Taiz and Aden where I lived. I purchased one and proudly carried it home.
I’d never used a real pumpkin to make pumpkin cookies. It seemed a daunting task, but when you’re away from home, you go to great lengths to reproduce something similar to home-cooking. I cut into my pumpkin, scooped out the seeds and goopy insides and sliced it up. After baking it in the oven, I peeled the skin away, chopped it again and finally pureed the pumpkin in a blender. After hours working with this pumpkin, I knew I’d never again undervalue the ease of canned pumpkin.
Finally, I had pumpkin puree and I was able to turn it into pumpkin cookies and share them with an international crowd in Yemen. They were well received and I had a food to remind me of fall and my family. I savored each bite.
The recipes we carry with us through life are important, aren’t they? Keeping those recipes alive, making them year after year, bring us closer to the loved ones who passed them to us in the first place, even if they’re no longer with us.
This fall I’m an ambassador for Project Stir. Project STIR is a series of documentary films launching this fall on Kickstarter. The films will follow Abuelitas, Nans & Mamaws passing down heirloom recipes in kitchens around the globe including countries like: Panama, New Zealand, Turkey, Croatia & England.
Fellow blogger Sarah Shotts is pioneering this amazing project. I invite you to check out Project Stir and all that Sarah is cooking up. Learn more about how to get involved at http://www.sarahshotts.com/projectstir
I’ll never forget cooking that pumpkin half a world away from home. Preserving our family stories and recipes is a way to bring our pasts and our families with us into the future. Join Sarah as she brings family recipes to life from around the world.
Now for those who love pumpkin as much as I do, here’s that pumpkin cookie recipe made every fall in my family for so many years. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. shortening/butter/or margarine
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1 c. pumpkin
Cream sugar, shortening and egg – Blend in vanilla and
Add flour/soda/salt/baking powder/cinnamon.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
Frosting: (I hardly ever make the frosting. The cookies don’t last long enough.)
3 tbsp butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. milk
Mix brown sugar/milk/butter and boil for 3 minutes Remove
from heat and add powdered sugar to thicken frosting to your preference. Spread frosting on cookies or spoon generously into mouth.