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Cranberry Orange Bread for Christmas

I struggle hard with gift giving. There are very rare occasions that I really nail it… but it’s almost never on someone’s birthday or around Christmas. This year I agonized over presents for my family. My mom always tells me not to get her anything (classic). So I’m left guessing. I know she genuinely doesn’t care what I get her, but I have to get her something. I mean, she gave me life.

I have to be very honest here… I literally almost got her nothing. This is not a proud statement for me. I kind of just threw my hands in the air on Christmas Eve and yelled, “FUCK IT,” startling my cat and probably several neighbors. But then I got to thinking about it, and I remember that not everyone is like me. Some people like knick knacks and nonsensical pretty things. So I went to one of my favorite little shops with a certain someone who was able to finally help me make a decision. I wandered through the whole store bitching and moaning (honestly, I don’t know how he was able to put up with me) that she wouldn’t like any of it. He held up shawls and scarves. I scoffed and pouted as I continually elbowed my way through the crowds of other panicked daughters. We walked into the kitchen area where he suggested a cookbook. Sighhhh. She doesn’t really cook much – not from new recipes anyway. And she’s not a new kitchen gadget kind of person. It just ends up frustrating her, and then she asks what was wrong with the way she was already doing the thing that the gadget is supposed to make easier. “How about this?” he asked, holding up a tea steeper in the shape of an adorable animal. But she doesn’t like tea. Or coffee. I honestly thought about getting her a case of Tab (yes, in fact, it is 1976), but she flies back to Florida next week. Also, seems kind of impersonal. I was about to give up when he said something along the lines of, “She doesn’t care. She’ll love whatever you give her,” while holding a pretty candle holder that had a forest pattern on it when lit, and I was convinced. The madness was over.

My love language is acts of service. I mostly want to feed people to show I care. I want to help them with a problem, support them when they’re struggling, help them paint their new apartment, or move into a new place. That’s how I show love. That’s what comes most naturally to me. Gift giving is hard because I want everything I give to be meaningful – because I really want to be of service. Turns out gift giving doesn’t have to be that serious, and I just need to calm the fuck down sometimes. Shit. Like, what’s the big deal? Buy someone a candle and move the fuck on.

Also, who are those people that purchase the perfect gift whenever they happen to find it and then hoard it until that person’s birthday or Christmas? HOW DO I BECOME YOU?

I made this bread along with some pumpkin bread to give my family as well. Because let’s be real – I’m never going to stop feeding people.

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Cranberry Orange BreadIMG_20171223_130506

For the bread:

1 cup cranberries – fresh, frozen, dried (or a combo – I did mostly fresh and a handful of dried)

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg (at room temp… place into a warm cup of water for 5 minutes if you forget to set it out)

1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark)

1/2 cup white sugar

1 cup buttermilk (Don’t have it? Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to regular milk.)

1/3 cup vegetable/canola/coconut oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons orange zest

 

For the crumble top:

1/4 cup flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons butter, cold and cut into cubes

 

For the glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons orange juice (I used the juice from the orange I “zested” for the bread)

As much orange zest as you like!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×5 loaf pan (or several mini loaf pans!) and set aside. You’ll want to make the crumble top first and set it in the fridge, just so it’s all ready to top the batter.

For the crumble top:

Mix all the dry ingredients in a medium to small mixing bowl. Cut the cold butter in with a pastry cutter (for the fancy folks), a couple of forks (I found that to be impossible), or your hands (this is easiest!) until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set in the fridge.

For the bread:

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add in the cranberries and set aside. In another bowl, mix the egg with the brown and white sugars until smooth. Whisk in buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and orange zest. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing gently but thoroughly. No lumps allowed! The recipe says to not over-mix… not sure what happens if you do. Try not to fuck it up.

Pour the batter into grease pan(s) and cover with the crumble top, pressing it lightly into the batter. Bake for 45-60 minutes (the smaller pans need less time, so check them after 35 minutes).

For the glaze:

Whisk all ingredients together. Boom. Done. Allow to cool completely before removing from pan(s) and drizzling the glaze over the top.

Give these to everyone for Christmas/Birthdays/etc. Or just eat them all by yourself. Fuck it.

comfort food · dessert · easy · quick · snacks · vegetarian

Sugar Cookies and Christmastime

20151209_092140The Christmas season is usually one of my favorite times of the year. It’s not too cold out yet, and there is usually a light layer of fluffy white snow, covering all the ugly, brown plants. I love the cozy nights indoors, drinking hot chocolate, and watching Elf. It’s basically an introvert’s dream – I’m pretty much required to stop socializing and stay home.

This year is different. I mourned the loss of summer, and have not fully recovered yet. The only thing I’m fully embracing is Christmas lights. I didn’t even put up a tree this year. It just sounds exhausting. In my defense, the Christmas tree I normally put up is full size, and from 1986 (I live in a small, one bedroom apartment). It’s flocked and everything. I actually love it, as it was the tree I grew up decorating, but the idea of vacuuming up fake snow (and trying to keep the cats away) is overwhelming. So fuck it. I’m not decorating this year.

20151209_092219Also, presents are getting more and more difficult with the kids in my family. My twin nieces are now 3 1/2, and starting to notice the difference between what toys/colors/things are “for boys” and what are “for girls.” When I asked why they weren’t super heroes for Halloween, they proceeded to tell me that those are “boy” costumes. Sigh. I guess I need to pay even more attention to what I’m buying them as gifts. This year they are mostly getting books, all with strong female protagonists. They’re going to hate it, but maybe they’ll be grateful one day.

The struggle is real.

20151209_093125Speaking of my nieces – we all made frosting together last night for my nephew (who hated it). One of my nieces took it upon herself to make up for her brother’s lack of interest by shoving handfuls of frosting into her mouth with her bare hands. A girl after my own heart.

There are no rules when I babysit.

20151209_101555Another part of Christmas that I love is cookies. Cut-out cookies are cute, but a pain in the ass. Plus, they never taste very good. I opted to make plain sugar cookies this year, and I’m not sorry. They take all of 15 minutes to throw together, and are practically inhale-able. So. Fucking. Good.

I found this recipe on Baking Away, via Pinterest. It is going to live in my recipe book from now on.

20151209_101520Sugar Cookies

2 3/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar + extra for coating cookies

1 egg

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat over to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Beat butter and sugar together in a mixer, until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla extract – beat until smooth. Slowly add dry ingredients, with mixer on low. Roll about a tablespoon of dough at a time into balls, and coat with sugar. Place on cookie sheet, evenly spaced, and bake for 8-10 minutes. Let sit for a couple minutes to cool, and use spatula to place cookies onto a clean surface.

If you don’t eat at least 3 cookies worth of dough while making these, you’re doing it wrong.