With editors and writers scattered around the world, online meetings are vital for keeping the Piker Press staff in touch with each other. The most common pleasantries exchanged in these meetings are "How's your weather?" and "What's for dinner?"
Those two questions dovetailed a few weeks ago, on a day when autumn was waving a gusty hand at the Midwest. Someone in California asked how my weather was. "Chilly. Breezy. Blustery. Gingerbread weather."
When I was a young child, "gingerbread weather" was a climatological event for our family, just like hail or blizzards. Some October afternoon, when the wind raised goosebumps on my legs as I walked home from school (this was back when girls still had to wear dresses), my mother would be waiting for me in the kitchen. "I think it's gingerbread weather," she said. I always readily agreed.
While my mom was a fine cook, for some reason, she always made her gingerbread from a boxed mix. It didn't matter to me. The sweet/spicy smell from the oven always made the house feel warmer, and mom always found a way for me to help. Usually I was in charge of the whipped cream, or rather, Dream Whip. Boxed topping for boxed cake, right?
When I mentioned gingerbread in the staff meeting, everyone started talking about their favorite autumn foods. Is it because the days are shorter and we spend more time indoors? Is it because the nights are colder and you don't care if the oven heats up the house? I don't know, but we all seemed to have a special fondness for casseroles and stews and baked goods, especially those we remember from childhood.
In this issue, Dan Mulhollen, Sand Pilarski, and Lydia Manx share some of their favorite foods, recipes, and memories. As for me and the gingerbread? I still make it just like mom did, straight from a box. I've upgraded the topping, though. My gingerbread gets a jet-propelled shot of "real" whipped cream from a can.
-- Cheryl Haimann
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Next week in The Piker Press: The Invasion of the Zombies! Just in time for Halloween, stories, poems, and art, all guaranteed to eat your brain.