Gas Pains

Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.

Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.

Gentlemen - Start Your Ovens

Family, Terrific Cooking

Alas.  The best-laid plans of mice and men.

I made and canned a giant batch of garden salsa to be given-away at Christmastime this year.  It was to be a homegrown gift for the family.  The problem is that the weather interfered with my plans.

Seems I made the stuff prior to deer camp and this last weekend's winter storm interrupted my best-laid plans to fetch it from up north and bring it back to Tosa for hostess gifts.  Crud!

Confronted with the dilemma of what to put in my Santa's sack in lieu of the salsa my all-knowing wife suggests -

Why don't you make your mom's cranberry bread?

Huh?  (I give it a second or so of thought)  Brilliant!

As a kid growing-up I can recall that the family enjoyed cranberry bread only a couple of times a year - Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Along with my Aunt Jeanne's nut bread my mother's cranberry bread was a perennial family favorite. 

The last few years I've gotten-away from the tradition of cranberry bread stocking stuffers.  In the intervening span of time there was venison sausage and mostly nothing.  What with the salsa about 130 miles distant this was an excellent gift-giving solution. 

Besides, the salsa will keep.

Sunday I braved the sub-zero temps to clear the snow-blown drifts from the driveway.  After checking the pantry for needed ingredients I ventured-forth to Metcalf's Sentry for oranges, nuts, and cranberries.

Here is the ancestral recipe for Grace Gaertner's Cranberry Bread:

2 cups of flour

1/2 t of salt

1 1/2 t of baking powder

1/2 t of baking soda

1 cup sugar 

1 egg (well beaten)

2 T melted butter

1/2 cup of orange juice

2 T hot water

1/2 cup of chopped walnuts

1 cup of cranberries (halved)

Grated rind of one (average-sized) orange

Mix the dried ingredients.  Add the egg, butter, orange juice and hot water.  Mix until moist.  Do not over-mix.  Fold-in the orange rind, cranberries and nuts.  Bake in a greased loaf pan at 350 for one hour and 10 minutes.

Note - I tripled the recipe and baked nine small loaves.  I recommend that you be extravagant with the nuts, cranberries and orange rind.  Be bold and splurge!  

If you make the smaller loaves watch them carefully for about 45 minutes to an hour.  Depends on whether you have a glass or two of Merlot while watching the football game.

Store these delectable loaves in the unheated sun porch behind a locked door so that your Labrador retriever cannot retrieve them.  On Christmas Eve wrap them in festive cellophane with a bow and present them to the women-folk of the vast, extended family. 

This year I vow to freeze a supply of cranberries as there is no good reason for any self-respecting family to not enjoy mom's cranberry bread in July - if they feel like it.

As for the salsa - if anyone wants to throw a Super Bowl party or some other gathering let me know.  I'll be there.  With the chips. 

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