Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pumpkin Cornbread

Today was a very emotional day for many people - not just in this country, but all across the globe.

I stopped by my grandmother's house (my stepdad's mom) for an early birthday celebration, and she has some friends visiting from the Netherlands.

When we arrived a little after noon, they were in the middle of watching the names being read at the ceremony held in New York City for the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

Her friends had actually insisted on watching it.  In fact, her one friend Nelly says she has watched it every year since 2002, from Holland.  And a few days ago, they visited New York City to see Ground Zero in person.

My stepdad and I were initially a little surprised to hear this, but they pointed out that the world changed after 9/11... not just America.

That comment really struck me.

Before I left my house, I had been watching the ceremony too - particularly to see my high school friend Mary's sister, who had the honor of reading their father's name.

He was in the South tower when the second plane struck it, and he never came home.

I can't believe that was 10 years ago. 

On September 11, 2001, I was a college freshman at the New College of Florida, in my first few weeks of school.  I woke up a little early that morning, so I went on the internet before class.

That was the heyday of Instant Messenger, and a friend of mine from home messaged me, asking if I heard about the plane hitting the World Trade Center.

I had no idea what he was talking about.

"Your class is probably cancelled," he wrote, but I wasn't comprehending the seriousness of the situation.

Wasn't it just an accident?  Why would classes be cancelled?

But they were, and this was no accident.  I didn't have a television in my dorm room, so I spent the rest of the day either glued to the TV in the student lounge or on my laptop.

I frantically tried to reach my father, who didn't work in the WTC specifically but sometimes had business there.  Of course, cell phones weren't working, so it took me a while to find out he and my stepmom (they also had an apartment in NYC) were physically fine.

Emotionally... not so much.

And then I heard about Mary's dad.

At the age of 18, I had little experience with devastating news of this caliber.

My heart went out to her, but I didn't know what to do.  I didn't know how to talk to her.  I didn't know what to say.

Watching that ceremony this morning, the same awful feeling of helplessness came back to me.

Seeing children pay tribute to mothers and fathers that they never really even knew brought tears to my eyes.  And my heart broke again for all the people that lost their family members & friends so suddenly. 

I look at Mary now and think how much has changed in 10 years.  She finished college, got a good job, and has an amazing husband and an adorable baby boy who's about to be a year old in November.

Her oldest brother is also married, with two kids.  Her older sister and other brother are happy and successful.

Why their father had to be taken from them in such a senseless act is beyond me.

But if there is another 'side' or another life out there beyond our understanding (as I like to believe) then I know that he is watching them, smiling, so proud of everything his family has accomplished and become.

Mary & her son Bryce, February 2011

Last week, I promised you the fall-flavored cornbread recipe I made with my slow-cooker chicken chili.

I think it's a good choice for today when we could all use a little 'comfort'.

Pumpkin Cornbread

  • 1 C. whole wheat pastry flour (regular all-purpose is also fine)
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 C. brown sugar
  • 1 C. cornmeal
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C. pumpkin purée
  • 1/4 C. canola oil
  • 1 T. molasses
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and grease an 8×8″ baking dish. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, spices, brown sugar, and cornmeal.

In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs, and then stir in the pumpkin, oil, and molasses.

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until combined, and then pour the batter into the pan, smoothing out the top as much as possible.

Bake 30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Serve warm, with butter if desired.

Recipe Slightly Adapted from Sugarcrafter


  1. Fantastic idea! Working from the 'sub applesauce for oil' idea, but with pumpkin which would be so amazing with cornbread! This recipe is a must make for fall! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Your recipe sounds fantastic! I love pumpkin and I love cornbread, what a great idea to combine them! Thanks for sharing your 9/11 story.

  3. Thank you for sharing your story. I remember 9/11/01 very vividly, too, and it's just crazy how 10 years has passed now. The cornbread looks absolutely spectacular and I can't wait to make it when the weather gets a little cooler :-)

  4. I'm so sorry to hear how the tragedy affected you and especially your friend. Comfort food like your cornbread is perfect for this anniversary date~

  5. What a heartfelt post. This cornbread looks so delicious. I can't wait to give this a try sometime. Perfect recipe for the cooler weather.

  6. What a heart wrenching experience that must have been for you and especially your friend. But this cornbread looks amazing! I love that you added pumpkin, can't wait to try this recipe out.

  7. What a wonderful post, it is always amazing how much happens in 10 years and how life changes. Senseless things always happen and it is nice to see that even though lives are affected they also move forward the best thing anyone can ever do is remember how wonderful the people in their lives were or are.

    The pumpkin cornbread sounds fantastic for fall.

  8. That cornbread is delicious! Yummy yummy yummy!

  9. " he is watching them, smiling, so proud of everything his family has accomplished and become" Oh I hope so. There is so much comfort in those words and this cornbread.
    I would love if you added this and any other pumpkin themed links to my "Happy Post" today.

  10. I think you're right - we could all use something comforting.


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