Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Bread

As a child each Christmas my mom and I would make Jiffy mix banana bread to give to our neighbors. She and I would spend the Saturday before the holiday in the kitchen opening the little blue twenty-five cent boxes. We would add an egg, a bit of milk, stir and put into the greased bread pan. After the bread cooled we wrapped the loaf in plastic and put a bow on top. I was then sent out to deliver the bread to our neighbors.

We didn't have much but my mom always made sure I knew two things. One was how to give. The other was to be a grateful getter. These are lessons I haven't always practiced perfectly over the years but they are part of my core, my foundation.

Now that I have Jack and Grace watching my every move, I am responsible for passing along my mom's lessons. One tiny thing we did this year was make Christmas bread for a few of our neighbors. Jack and Grace helped crack eggs and stir batter. They licked spoons and munched on pecans.

We cooked our bread and waited for it to cool before wrapping it in plastic and delivering it to neighbors.

The lesson I want my children to have engrained in their hearts is that giving is not about the biggest or most expensive gift. A gift of time. A gift of love. That is what sharing is about. And I want them to receive the simple gifts with grace and joy. To learn to appreciate someone thinking of them and sending a blessing their way.

Here is Christian's favorite holiday bread recipe. A recipe his mother, Catherine Anne, made for their childhood holiday celebrations. This is now a part of our children's holiday memories. Plus this bread is crazy delicious.

Orange Cranberry Nut Mini Bread Loaves

Grease and flour 3 mini loaf pans (3 x 5 3/4 inch)

1 3/4 cups unsifted flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup cold butter
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons orange juice
1 egg beaten
1 cup cranberries halved or quartered (Do not use a food processor! You want them barely chopped)
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry cutter, cut butter into the flour mixture.
Combine the orange zest, juice, and egg. Add egg mixture to the flour mixture all at once. Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Mix in cranberries and pecans.
Spoon batter into pans. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. Cool loaves in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool on a wire rack. Wrap and refrigerate overnight before slicing. "If you can!" (Anne's note on the recipe that makes me smile.)

Here's wishing you all the joy of simple gifts this holiday season. Hug your babies and be grateful for this beautiful life.

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