It’s Autumn. The leaves are beginning to change, we are enjoying backyard campfires and the kids are drinking lots of hot chocolate and mom is loving this weather. This is my time of year. Not just my favorite time of year, but my time of year. I love the color changes in the trees, I love the crunching sound of the leaves beneath my feet, I love the feel of the cool wind on my face and most of all, I love the treasured scents of Fall. Most importantly, pumpkin and all the spices that make it amazing to eat.
I chose a pumpkin pie for this week’s #BakeForACure #SundaySupper for several reasons. One, it’s one of the few pies I actually know how to make. Two, and more obvious, it just goes perfectly with this time of year.
When I received this gorgeous Chantal Easy as Pie Dish (in beautiful Apple red), I knew that whatever I made in it, had to be special. Part of our theme for this week is to #BakeForTheCure. What we are doing is baking something and sharing it with a medical cancer treatment professional or someone who has been affected by cancer. Now do you understand why the pie dish, plus our mission this week just equaled special all the way around.
Before I share my awesome recipe, I want to talk about who I baked my Spiced Pumpkin Pie with the Cinnamon Roll Crust for and in honor of. In order to do that, I have to flash back to my senior year of high school and tell a story, a story that began when I was only in 8th grade. I’m not promising it will be short either. If you don’t want to hear it, and I’m warning you it’s sad, then just skip ahead to the recipe and ignore the rest of this long winded post.
When I was in 8th grade, my father was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer – cancer of the nasopharynx. The nasopharynx is the upper part of the pharynx (throat) behind the nose. The pharynx is a hollow tube about 5 inches long that starts behind the nose and ends at the top of the trachea (windpipe) and esophagus (the tube that goes from the throat to the stomach). Air and food pass through the pharynx on the way to the trachea or the esophagus. The nostrils lead into the nasopharynx. An opening on each side of the nasopharynx leads into an ear. Sorry about the science lesson but felt that should be explained. It is a cancer that in not usually treatable with surgery due to it’s location. Right at the base of the brain and top of the spinal cord – yikes. We went through a ton of Chemo and Radiation during the next couple of years, plus surgeries, long extended hospital stays and so much more.
Most people can recall lots of great memories from their high school years. I cannot. It’s not that I didn’t have them, I did. But at some point in my life, I have clearly blocked out most of what went on during high school. I have very limited and specific memories. Many times someone will say “Remember when…” and even then it takes a lot of story to get me to remember if even at all. I’ve clearly blocked that traumatic time of my life. Not intentionally, it just happened.
So flash forward to my senior year of high school which was the roughest of them all, and interestingly the year I remember the most. Over the summer I had just moved to a new home from the childhood home I had known since birth, I switched schools for my last year of high school (guess who doesn’t go to high school reunions?) and my father was quickly declining. After only a few weeks in our new home, it was easy to see that my father couldn’t make it up and down the stairs on his own and my mother could not support his weight on her own – we all tried to pitch in but that lasted about a week before we just knew we couldn’t keep doing that. He was getting up and falling (thankfully not down the stairs – but we were worried) and he so badly wanted to do things on his own, the problem was, he couldn’t anymore. He was moved to a hospital bed in our kitchen and hospice was called. My life changed quite drastically after that. My father’s bed was situated against these huge picturesque windows in our kitchen. Right behind my chair at the dinner table in our new house that didn’t even feel like a home to me at that point yet either. To this day, twenty years later, I still have a tough time looking at that area of the kitchen without seeing him there and I’m very grateful that my mom no longer seats me in that chair when we are invited to dinner.
After he lost his sense of taste, and then his ability to swallow – mealtime became an immense source of stress for me anyway, and that all happened before we even moved. My father loved food. In almost any form. He enjoyed gourmet, he enjoyed home cooked, fine dining and even junk food. Most people get their love of food and cooking from their mom’s and their grandma’s, but for me I am pretty sure it came from my father immense love of food and the fact that he was dedicated to having us try anything and everything. By six years old two of my favorite foods were frog legs and escargot. Yep. He loved food. This was never lost on me. I had a very difficult time with the seating arrangements and everyone was so lost in their own stress and discomfort with the situation I didn’t say anything. I sat there. I’m sure I lost weight my senior year. It was hard to want to eat, let alone actually do it in front of him. I felt so selfish. I was angry at my family for not noticing, I was mad at my dad for getting sick and making me feel guilty. He didn’t actually make me feel guilty, but it was a long time before I completely understood that.
During all of those years, my father was in and out of the hospital on a fairly regular basis. One nurse in particular became his favorite. I remember we all made jokes about the fact that she was young and pretty and that’s why my father adored her, but I can honestly tell you that wasn’t it (I’m sure it helped – she’s gorgeous and she is a twin, so there’s two times the beauty!). It was all about her heart. She loves her job. It was in her eyes, in her smile, in every word she spoke back then. She was wonderfully made for this job. She has a compassion not just with her patients but with their families too. I’m sure my father noticed. I was still so young and I noticed. For whatever reason, Lisa brought me a great comfort that until I was much older I wasn’t able to express to her or even noticeably recognize. Even when hospice was called in, Lisa still visited my father as often as she could.
I remember Christmas of my senior year – 1991 (yes I know I am dating myself, I don’t care). The decline in my father was so obvious, I knew that his days were numbered and that it would be our last Christmas with him. We never spoke about it, but I felt it, it was with me everyday, every moment I remember wondering when it was going to come. Living like that is awful. It becomes difficult to enjoy even the smallest pleasures – it was my Senior year! I remember how challenging it was to get my father from that hospital bed in the kitchen to the next room over where the Christmas tree was and where we would celebrate and open gifts.
I remember every gift my father received that year, but I don’t remember a thing I got – not a single thing. The most significant gift my father received was from my mother, who had painted a beautiful painting that depicted a much younger me in a gorgeous sleigh pulled by our two dogs. I look at this photograph we took of him holding the painting and he looks so old. He was so young. He was only 51. He also received a shirt that year for Christmas. A really nice looking grey pull over. (the significance of that is important but later) I remember thinking “What does he need that for, he’s not going anywhere ever again.” What a sad, sad thought because I didn’t know then how true those words were going to be.
The morning of New Years Day 2012 my dad slipped into an 11 day coma and left this world on January 11, 1992. Quite possibly the worst day of my life thus far. The worst 11 days of my life. I remember absolutely nothing from those 11 days. Not a single memory, but one. Lisa. She came to see him. She was also at his funeral. I remember both of those things. I can’t explain why those memories are so strong, but they are. Lisa and I have stayed in touch off and on for years. We sent Christmas cards for many years but I’ve moved all over the place and she has two boys and her husband and a different job, you know – how that just happens. I found her again on Facebook (who can’t you find on Facebook?) and was really excited to find out more about what she was up to these days. What I found out, is she is still local – about 20 minutes from my house I believe, and she has a new job. She’s still an RN but she is now working with Multiple Sclerosis patients. She was in the video for the center she works for and that vibrancy, passion, dedication and heart are all still there and visible for her job and the patients.
And about that shirt I mentioned? The one he got for Christmas that year. The one I knew he’d never wear. Someone work it. I did. I’m wearing it this very minute. I wear it all the time. Looks adorable with a pair of jeans and it’s darn comfy to sleep in. Don’t know why I’m telling you that, but hey, it matters to me so it goes on my blog. haha
I’m so proud to honor both her and my father with this post and this delicious spiced pumpkin pie. It was AMAZING!
These Contributors, were given a beautiful Easy As Pie Dish by Chantal Cookware.
They have created these beautiful recipes to brighten someone’s day. The team was in agreement, we loved the Easy As Pie Dish! The patented design simplifies the art of baking the perfect pie.
Designed for ease, the interior ridges conveniently hold the dough in place and provide an even, uniform mold for the outer crust. A raised rim on the outside of the dish allows for precise trimming of excess dough. 9″ interior Diameter.
And the best part, it is microwave, Oven, Freezer and Dishwasher safe.
Check out these gorgeous Recipes:
- Pecan Pie by The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen
- Nana’s 3LB Deep Dish Apple Pie by I Run For Wine
- Upside-down Apple Pie by Comfy Cuisine
- Coconut Pie by Basic N Delicious
- German Apple Pie by Mrs. Mama Hen
- Funny Cake by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Sweet Potato Pie with Gingersnap Crust by Webicurean
- Lemon Meringue Pie by The Messy Baker Blog
- Ham and Spinach Quiche by Magnolia Days
- Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Streusel Topping by Juanita’s Cocina
- Grilled Eggplant Moussaka With Greek Yogurt White Sauce by Sue’s Nutrition Buzz
- Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie by Big Bears Wife
- Pumpkin Maple Pie by Mama’s Blissful Bites
- Spiced Pumpkin Pie with a Cinnamon Roll Crust by Daily Dish Recipes
- Butterscotch Pudding Triple Chip Cookies by Dinners, Dishes and Desserts
- Flatbread with Grapes, Gruyere, Rosemary and Red Onions by Shockingly Delicious
- Salted Caramel Filled Chocolate Chip Cookie by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Candy Bar Pie by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Garlic rosemary yeast rolls by Gotta Get Baked
- Italian Tomato Tart by She likes ruffles, he likes truffles
- Impossible cheeseburger pie by In the Kitchen with KP
- 10 Grain Muffins by Mangiamo!
- Date Crumb Pie by girlichef
- Gluten-Free Carrot Cake Doughnuts by What Smells So Good?