Recession-proofing the holidays: Plentiful pumpkins provide holiday cheer


With cash in short supply this year, and plastic not so trendy anymore, we may have to turn a little more creative in our gift-giving traditions this holiday season. I remember long ago when my children were small, and we faced a tough economy in the 1970s. With many children in school and many teachers to remember at Christmas, we thought hard about gifts to give them that we could afford.

Our pumpkin crop was plentiful that year and we stumbled on the idea of cooking up the pumpkins and making pumpkin bread for each of the teachers. We harvested and scrubbed the pumpkins, baked them in the oven, then pureed them in the blender. Many little hands helped measure and sift, stir until blended , then put the pans in the oven to bake. We used lots of cinnamon and spice that made the house smell really nice. After the breads were cooled each loaf was wrapped in foil with loving hands, then tied up with a cloth bow. We copied off the recipe on an index card, that we tucked into the bow. The kids proudly trudged off to school, all bundled up in their coats and scarves, to deliver the precious packages.

We used pumpkins for the bread that came from our garden. Watch for over-ripe bananas at the grocery store, or buy fresh cranberries at seasonal prices to make other delicious home-baked breads to give as gifts.

Mary Thoemke, a lifelong resident of Saint Paul, is a free lance writer for the Twin Cities Daily Planet.