To celebrate Thanksgiving this year we traveled to Indian Wells with Paul’s family. Amongst gorgeous weather, desert mountains, and the greenest grass I’ve ever seen (seriously, even Ireland isn’t that green!) we played bocce ball, went on bike rides and walks, and ate a ton of wonderful food.
What struck me most about this warm and enveloping family vacation was the obvious legacy Nana Darga has left for her grandchildren. At around 9:30 on Wednesday evening, the Darga grandchildren (ages 16-22) piled into the small kitchen to bake all of the desserts for our Thanksgiving feast. They melted caramels and chocolate, patted down and shaped pie crusts, folded pecans into batter, and triumphantly created homemade ice cream. All of this busy merriment (there was A LOT of laughing going on) continued through the evening as “Nana” looked on with pride and love.
The next day I called my parents to wish them a happy Thanksgiving and my mom, Grandma Chenoweth, had a similar story to tell. In her kitchen, she spent the previous day teaching Ellie and Kathryn (my nieces, ages 11 and 13) how to bake Hildegard’s cheesecake (a long standing tradition in our family bequeathed to us from our wonderfully charming German neighbor from Pasadena, I still remember her calling me “Sweet Annie”). Ellie, Kathryn, and my mom baked away, sharing this beautiful skill called baking. Later Gwen and Flynn, (another niece and nephew, ages 5 and 8) joined Ellie and Kathryn so that they could all learn to bake sugar cookies from scratch. They will never forget that day; being wrapped up Grandma’s sweet, sugary, warm kitchen.
What a beautiful legacy to leave for their grandchildren! Nana Darga and Grandma Chenoweth have given these children a tremendous gift through baking… an appreciation of family, tradition, and love. Although I don’t have children, I hope that I can leave a legacy like these beautiful women ahead of me. What an incredible honor that would be.
Today, I wanted to bake a quick bread that my mom makes regularly during this season. Cranberry bread is the perfect holiday breakfast treat. It’s also super easy which I love, however of course my version didn’t turn out quite as well as my mom’s. But it was definitely made with love!
Anyway, Paul doesn’t like cranberries but loves blueberries and for some reason the blueberries from Trader Joe’s have been awesome lately, so I made blueberry bread instead. I switched and combined various ingredients to create what I proudly call, “Blueberry Lemon” bread. To be completely honest with you, it kinda worked but Paul said, “It’s not my favorite.” The moral of this story is if you choose to make this bread, follow the recipe given, not mine!
Cranberry Bread a.k.a. Blueberry Lemon Bread (care of Pasadena’s Junior League Cookbook from about a thousand years ago – Mrs. Maurice S. Dampier)
2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1 cup cranberries, 1/2 cup walnuts, 1 teaspoon grated orange peel, 1 egg (beaten), 3/4 cup orange juice, 2 tablespoons salad oil
Sift together the dry ingredients. Combine with cranberries, nuts, and orange peel. Combine egg, orange juice, and oil. Add to dry mixture, stirring well. Put in buttered bread pan. Bake 50 minutes in 350 degree oven. Can be frozen.
I used blueberries instead of cranberries, the peel of 2 lemons instead of orange peel, 1/2 cup orange juice, and 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice. I also had to bake it for 65 minutes, and it was still a bit chewy although baked all the way through. As I said, Paul was not a fan but I dug it.
Oh, just a side note, baking these lovely Sunday treats while sipping on a mimosa is just fabulous! The experience is even more enhanced if it’s raining outside and a fire is blazing in our living room.