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Baking Family Ties

After organizing my kitchen cabinets, I realized I have five pie pans. So when my sister Marilyn asked me the other day if I needed another pie plate, I just laughed.

Ever since I was old enough to sift flour, I came to the conclusion that you have to have more pans than you need for a good reason. Our mom taught us that you never go to a picnic, visit a friend, or greet the new neighbor without taking a gift of food.

Funeral home visits also meant taking along a plate of muffins or cookies for the bereaved family. Mom was big on breakfast breads or muffins that traveled well.

At dinnertime, Mom made extra plates of food we would take to several widows living alone in the neighborhood. It wasn’t so much the food as it was the time we spent with those ladies that meant the most to them. That’s the real definition of comfort food.

As we grew up and left the nest, we each developed our own special recipes for baked goods or dishes that came to every family function without fail. And as a result, sometimes we ended up taking home someone else’s pie pan, cookie sheet or casserole dish. I’m still looking for my favorite jelly roll pan I lost at a family Thanksgiving gathering seven years ago!

Marilyn is famous for her potato salad and berry pies. She honed her expertise for pies at the elbow of our late Aunt Louise who was known for bringing butterscotch, strawberry and lemon meringue pies to family affairs.

If our sister Denny doesn’t show up with a plate of fancy cookies and her sought-after Rice Krispy treats, there would be groans all around by other family members.

Our brother Jon has been known to wow us with his culinary skills with a plate of cream puffs.

I recently learned that our oldest brother Herk has been producing pans of tempting apple dumplings. He not only makes baked apple dumplings, he also has mastered our mom’s recipe for boiled apple dumplings. Either way, they are delicious with a scoop of ice cream or a bit of milk poured over top.

Sister-in-law Colleen, Bob’s wife, also can whip up a holiday pie or delicious salad to feed a small army. Younger sister K.C. has been known for her savory green bean dishes or other fresh vegetables.

Youngest brother Jamie’s wife Susie provides meat alternatives with interesting vegan dishes including cookies. Family meals also have included a crockpot of hearty buttered noodles from our brother Chris and wife Ellen.

Other family members, including brother Matt and wife Jackie, and brother Greg, fill in the food table with offerings of pepperoni rolls, homemade candy treats, salty snacks and liquid refreshments. Youngest sister Gretchen and her family, who live in Texas, have introduced many of their Texan friends to West Virginia’s popular pepperoni rolls.

As for me, I have been known to make a few dozen deviled eggs or a tasty fruit salad to share. I guess I should really get busy baking a pie or two and give them away, pans and all!

Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at hziegler@theintelligencer.net.

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