Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's the Final Countdown

Today was a busy one. I spent most of the day either cleaning my house or cooking, or both simultaneously. We will have a relatively small crowd tomorrow, but that is good, because we have a relatively small home. It should be sufficiently cozy, filled with family, puppies, and the smells of Thanksgiving pouring out of the kitchen. I have done as much as I can to get ready...and I think it is enough. I feel strangely peaceful, like the calm before the storm. I can only hope that tomorrow goes as smoothly as I imagine it will, but there are always bumps along the road...and that is what makes good fodder for family tales in years to come.

I've made pumpkin chocolate chip bread and cranberry bread (for our Thanksgiving breakfast), pumpkin pie, cranberry relish, and Parker House Rolls. I will also make New England Rum Pie, a family tradition for generations, before I go to bed. I have dried and cubed the bread for stuffing (and made the cornbread for that too), and defrosted the rich turkey stock I made earlier in the month. My house is a cacophony of smells (and sounds from excited children who have been cooped up all day due to rain), and I am looking forward to a luxurious soak later tonight after the children are tucked in.

I do love the holidays, especially Thanksgiving, where there are no expectations of anything other than a great meal and great company. This year I am especially grateful for the farmers who grew our food, and all of the hands who are helping to prepare it. It has been such a joy to put a name and face with my food, to shake hands, and offer up sincere thanks to the folks who work so tirelessly to grow it. I am so thankful for family, friends, and neighbors who make my life a joy every day. And I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving too!

This recipe is for a most delicious Thanksgiving morning treat. It would also work for Christmas morning, or any morning really. This quick bread, adapted from the Silver Palate Cookbook, is a fairly simple to prepare, and tastes wonderful toasted and spread with butter. I can't wait to have a piece tomorrow morning.

Cranberry Orange Bread
makes 1 loaf

2 C flour
1/2 C sugar
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
2/3 C fresh orange juice
2 eggs, beaten slightly
2 T butter, melted
1/2 C walnuts or pecans, chopped (optional)
1 1/4 C cranberries, pulsed in a food processor until finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease loaf pan.

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in orange juice, eggs, and butter. Whisk until just combined. Fold in nuts and cranberries and pour into prepared pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a knife, inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto cooling rack to finish cooling completely. Wrap well and put away for 1-2 days before serving.

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