Just in Thyme for the Holidays

December 2011

Three years ago, I was discovering why everyone had been recommending I visit San Francisco.  Two years ago, I was feasting in Pittsburgh.  Last year on my return from Brazil, I was in a fetal position, in an airplane two-seater, watching the inflight movie show.  This year, as the song goes, I’ll be home for Christmas.

Home for Christmas means little “angels” singing the carols they practiced for weeks, a young violinist squeaking her way flatly through every identical verse of Away in the Manger, walking along the glowing luminaries and picking out familiar faces that have changed so much since last seen.  Somehow time has flown since I have returned home for the holidays.

What better way to procrastinate on packing prior to the homeward trip than preparing something from my lovin’ oven for the special people in my life and for the special people of the special person in my life?!?  Thanks friends and family for the excuse to pack at the very last of minutes.  I love the wanderin’ times, but oh how I hate the knapsack bit.

Happy Holidays to all and to all a few grains!

A note about this flavor combination… I seem to be stuck on the pairing of herbs and cranberries, but have you eaten herbs and cranberries together?  Once you do, it’s increasingly difficult to unstick yourself from the pair.  This lemon and thyme combo will make yet another appearance here very soon!

Lemon Cranberry Bread
With Pecans & A Touch Of Thyme

Bread Ingredients

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup almond flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 ½ sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½ cup evaporated cane juice sugar
4 large eggs + 1 egg yolk (local/free-range)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
4 Heaping Tablespoons lemon pulp from juicing
1 cup organic whole milk
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup pecans, chopped

Lemon Glaze Ingredients

1/2 cup evaporated cane juice sugar
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons water
¼ cup fresh thyme

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place the oven rack in the center of the oven.

Butter the bottom and sides of two loaf pans (9 x 5 x 3 inch).

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until softened.

Add the sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Beat in the vanilla extract, almond extract and lemon zest.

With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture (in three additions) and milk (in two additions) alternately, starting and ending with the flour.

Mix only until combined. Gently fold in the cranberries and pecans.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and bake for about 55 to 65 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the 1/2 cup of sugar, the 4 tablespoons of lemon juice and 2 Tablespoons of water to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

Add the thyme and allow to simmer for a few minutes.

Remove from heat.  Right before removing the bread from the oven, use a strainer to remove the thyme and reserve the liquid.

When the bread is done, remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Pierce the hot loaf all over with a wooden skewer or toothpick and then pour the glaze on top of each loaf.

Cool the loaf in the pan for about 30 minutes then remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack before converting to a holiday parcel.

Cranberry Cherry Compote

1 cup red wine (cabernet sauvignon)
1 cup water
1 cup organic brown sugar
1 bag (12 oz.) organic fresh cranberries
1 cup organic dried cherries
4 Tablespoons lemon zest (from juicer)
cinnamon, to taste
nutmeg, to taste
3-4 Tablespoons sage simple syrup

Directions

Bring the wine, water and organic sugar to boil in a saucepan over medium heat.

Add the cranberries and continue to boil until the cranberries begin to pop, stirring occasionally.

Add the remaining ingredients and continue to simmer and stir occasionally until the berries and liquid are well blended and have reached a jelly consistency.

Remove from heat and allow to cool before serving or packing into a holiday parcel!

Xoxo,

With the Grains!

Ps:  One of the best Nicole quotes of 2011?  So hard to choose, so I’ll say the best and most relevant quote, “if stamping is wrong, I don’t want to be right.”

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