Oh my goodness. I always forget how entirely exhausting the holidays are. I get excited every year for baking, presents, family, and friends being home. And then I get caught up in this whirlwind of…baking, presents, family, and friends being home. It’s not a bad whirlwind at all. I mean, who am I to complain when I get to host a sleepover for eight lovely ladies at my house and paint our nails and make friendship bracelets?
I’m awfully lucky to be friends with these beautiful girls.
And why would I complain when I got to spend Christmas with my little family? Especially when they threw down in a huge way to put this under the tree for me!
Hello lover, we will be very good friends, I just know it.
Right before the holiday rush began, I up and went to North Carolina to visit one of my best friends in the world Bette. But I may have screeched about that on here earlier…
I don’t know if you have a place like North Carolina is for me, so maybe you won’t quite get what I’m about to say. But when I go down there, it feels just like I’m home, not like I’m on vacation. It’s like I’m just picking right back up in my other life, right where I left off last time I was there. It just…fits. So it’s no wonder that’s where I ran the second I needed to clear my head. And let me tell you, North Carolina never fails. Head? Cleared.
We spent most of our time in Charlotte, and one of our good friends from Raleigh even drove down to hang out! But, we also went up to camp. Talk about places where you just fit. We had lunch with old friends who are practically family in my mind. They care so much it blew my mind. Then of course the fact that people can care so little also blows my mind.
Anyway, Bette and I met at camp in the summer of 1995.
Some of the horses that we rode that summer we met are still there. We snapped some pictures with them.
Did you survive Christmas? Are you looking forward to New Year’s Eve? Is your belly so full of holiday food you may pop? Mine is!
Meanwhile, back at the Indianapolis ranch, a good month ago, I made some kickass quick bread. Cranberry orange cornmeal bread. I am BEGGING you to run to the grocery store right now and snatch up the last bags of cranberries you can find before the disappear. Please. I’ve become obsessed with cranberries this winter. They’re so deliciously tart and brightly, festively red. And they work so well with oranges, which are also in season during the winter.
So this bread is studded with cranberries, laced with orange flavor, and sweetened with cornmeal and honey. It’s just completely amazing. All day, every day, any time of day. Sadly, I took no pictures, but if you pop over to Joy the Baker’s site (link to her recipe to follow after the jump) you’ll see her photos, and I only made a few small changes.
Cranberry Orange Cornmeal Bread
adapted slightly from Joy the Baker
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour (if you don’t have whole wheat flour, just use all-purpose flour)
1 cup medium or fine ground cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup honey
1 1/4 cup buttermilk (I used the milk and vinegar trick here with soy milk)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of one medium-sized orange
1 heaping cup to 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
Arrange a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 350° F. Butter and flour one 9×5×3-inch loaf pan, or two slightly smaller loaf pans. I went with one larger loaf pan. Set them aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together both flours, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder.
In a smaller bowl whisk together honey, eggs, buttermilk, melted butter, vanilla extract, and orange zest.
Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until combined.
Fold in the cranberries.
Pour the batter divided between two smaller loaf pans or into one large loaf pan. Spread evenly. Set loaf pans in the center of the oven. For smaller loaves bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes of clean. For the larger loaf, bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Cool loaves in pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Invert onto a plate or board. Serve warm or wrap up and freeze (if you don’t consume the whole thing immediately).