The wreath outside our house has a red and white striped bow that I made from ribbon and jewelry wire. It doesn’t have the strand of twinkling lights though. Our lighted garland, which we spent at least an hour trying to hang unsuccessfully on temporary hooks, sits curled on a chair. It never lit up the porch this year. The big plastic snowman, lighted candy canes, reindeer and sleigh remain in the attic. There was no fun scene outside this year.
And yet, we have found the merry.
Today, the kids and I will bake cookies, build gingerbread creations, wrap presents and go to a Christmas Eve service. We’ll read The Night Before Christmas, and leave out cookies and milk for Santa. And they’ll wear special new pajamas, a surprise evening present just for Christmas, to bed.
There will be smiles, laughter and dancing in the kitchen. It is going to be grand.
There was a time over the last 10 days or so that I wasn’t sure I could find the merry for this holiday season. Crushed below the enormity of what happened, it seemed like the holidays would miss that special spark. But yet we’ve found it in little moments that build to be such big ones. It’s in the spontaneous singing of Feliz Navidad after a Christmas pageant rehearsal and the delivery of Christmas cookies. It’s in the hugs and warmth between neighbors and friends — and the kindness shared all over. And it’s even in the 26 luminaries, traditionally used for our town’s Christmas tree lighting ceremonies, that we’ll light outside our house today.
In truth, we didn’t need twinkling lights or weeks of shopping and baking to make this holiday merry and meaningful. It is both of those things without trying.
If you celebrate Christmas, I hope you and your family have a truly merry and bright Christmas day tomorrow. And if you don’t, I hope you still have an amazingly wonderful day.
Now, onto the bread …
Raspberry Walnut Buttermilk Bread is a moist bread that’s perfect toasted for breakfast. I heat slices for a few minutes at 350 degrees and then spread our favorite butter on. This bread is lightly sweet and dotted with tart raspberries and meaty walnuts. These pleasant contrasts in flavor and textures make it special and just right for any morning. And with those festive colors … well, why not whip up a loaf for tomorrow?
Quick breads (made with good flour like Gold Medal!) are a super simple way to make homemade bread without a lot of fuss — and they are so delicious spread with butter for breakfast. What’s great is that there is no rising time needed, so they really do live up to their name. Just mix and bake.
Who wants a slice?
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1 large egg
- 2 cups Gold Medal All-Purpose Flour
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups frozen raspberries
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the buttermilk, oil and egg. Mix using the wire whisk attachment until fully combined.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. With the stand mixer running on its lowest speed, add a little a time until fully incorportated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the raspberries and walnuts and mix briefly to combine.
- Pour the batter into a buttered loaf pan and bake for 60-70 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out cleanly.
- Let cool before slicing and serving.
Disclosure: I was compensated by Gold Medal for the creation of this recipe. All opinions are my own.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.