The calendar need only read December 1st and visions of orange zest, nutmeg, clove and spice start swirling in my head. How quickly I break up with pumpkin pie and move on to the warm, intoxicating smells of the winter holidays.
December is a month that I spend in my kitchen trying to recreate the traditions that made my childhood holidays so special. My Hungarian Grandma Foris would arrive at our house for Christmas with tins of Kiflis (Kee-Flees), nut roll and poppy seed roll. My Grandpa Brandeberry would spend weeks making candy to give as gifts. I can still see the white boxes with red bows piled high on top of his washer and dryer in the back room. If I came to his house on the right day, he would let me sit at his kitchen table and squish mounds of caramel between pecans while he dipped them in chocolate.
I like to think that my love of baking comes from a long line of proud cooks. I usually wear my Grandma’s apron and think about what life in the kitchen was like for her and her mother when they were in Hungary.
I think about my Grandfather and how, like me, he loved to give away what he made and how happy people were to receive the special candy crafted by hand just for them. But my Grandfather had more baking experience then I realized. My Dad came across this picture taken when my Grandfather was in the Army during World War II. He was a Master Sargent with the Artillery in the Philippines, but apparently he had some kitchen duty too!
This picture hangs in my kitchen with the ones above. Now I have some company watching over me when I make my pies. I also have some inspiration to find whatever genetic link I have to baking so I can make the best pie ever!