Beauty in the snow, from the Barn Quilts and the American Quilt Trail site. This one is from Calhoun County, Illinois. It just glows in the blizzard.
It was a great weekend to stay in, brew tea, read old books and bake. It certainly was not a good weekend for getting out and eyeing birds, as birds are not stupid and tend to stay in warm places where they can't be seen. Nor was it a good weekend for driving around, since the weather was erratic and kept producing icy roads and blowing snow at the strangest times. I think that everyone up here would settle for either better weather or an outright snow day or five.
There is a blueberry cobbler in the refrigerator, the fond memory of buckwheat pancakes from this morning, and another batch of teacakes ready to go off to Afghanistan. Apparently the last batch of teacakes evaporated or something over there.
My favorite snow day therapy is still a window looking out on the snow, Earl Grey tea and teabreads in the late afternoon. These are best combined with a puffy quilt and a stack of books. It's all the more satisfying in a prairie-girl kind of way, I'm finding, if the bread and the quilt are both homemade. Either I've been up here way too long or not nearly long enough. I'm opting for the latter, and that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Cranberries weren't always easy to get in the flatlands and drylands. Anyone who has only experienced them in the form of canned jelly at Thanksgiving is in for a pleasant surprise in using them fresh and whole. As these two recipes show, they are perfectly paired with orange juice (or any other citrus juice). You can substitute dried ones for fresh ones, but I'd soak them in orange juice for a few hours first. These are good for afternoon and evening gatherings, and also make good mini-loaves for gifts. Don't ignore the advice to let these stand for a while before slicing. Baking-powder breads need to cool and firm up in order for the crumb to be good and not, well, crumby.
Cranberry-orange tea bread
3 cups all-purpose biscuit mix
1 T grated orange rind
¾ cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
¾ cup milk
½ cup orange juice
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 cup fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
Combine biscuit mix, rind and sugar in large bowl. Combine egg, milk and orange juice. Add to biscuit mixture and beat for about 1 minute. Stir in nuts and cranberries. Spoon into greased loaf pan. Bake at 350* F for 55 to 60 minutes. Let stand in pan 10 to 15 minutes. Turn out on rack to cool. Wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap and let stand a day before slicing. If refrigerated, first slice, then allow to come to room temperature before serving.
Re the next one: I don't use margarine, full stop. If you are substituting butter, you may need to check both the amount of flour and the heat of the oven to make sure that the texture is good and that the bread does not burn at the edges. I haven't had many problems with this. There are heart-healthier versions out there, though.
Cranberry quick bread with sweet orange spread
½ cup margarine spread
¾ cup sugar
3 cups flour
1 T baking powder
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
1 cup unsweetened orange juice
1 cup coarsely chopped cranberries
½ cup chopped nuts
Beat spread and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add combined dry ingredients alternately with juice, mixing well after each addition. Stir in cranberries and nuts. Pour into greased and floured 9”x5” loaf pan. Bake at 350* F for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes and remove from pan.
Sweet orange spread
Combine ½ cup margarine spread, 1 T powdered sugar and 1 tsp. grated orange rind. Mix well and chill.
Happy Monday. What is your favorite bad-weather therapy?