Feeling a lack in our lives, my sisters and I adopted a neighbor lady as our grandmother. Mrs. G was a wonderful woman. Her back fence bordered our backyard and frequently she'd meet us at the fence to hand over a squash, a jar of jam, or just to chat. Better still was being invited to play over at her house.
Being a retired couple with a large house to themselves, several rooms were shut with the furniture covered in dust sheets. This lent a delicious air of mystery and possibilities to the house. There was a large landing in the stairs that was perfect for putting on puppet shows and a porch over the garage that was just right for tea parties. On a dull day I could entertain her and myself (and quite possibly annoy her husband) by counting all her African violet plants and all the owls in her owl figurine collection.
When I got married and had children my kids were in the same situation. 4 grandparents, but no one close enough to see on a daily, or even weekly basis. But when we bought our house we really got lucky. Not only a nice house with a great backyard, but nice neighbors. Though there has been quite a bit of shift in the neighborhood over the years, our one constant has been our neighbor, K.
As her kids have grown up, she's taken on my youngest daughter as her baking buddy. Although K has a hectic work schedule, when she finds the time, K will have my daughter come over and bake cookies, muffins, or other treats with her and then send her home with a plate of goodies to share. I love that she does this. Although I'm perfectly capable of baking with my daughter, and frequently do, I know she loves her time with this wonderful lady.
One of the first things they made together was a quick bread. It was so good that I asked for the recipe and now I make it every year as soon as cranberries hit the grocery store. It is moist, tangy, not too sweet, and the little loaves make perfect gifts for friends and very special neighbors.
Cranberry Orange Nut Bread
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp soda
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
Grated zest of 1 orange
Juice of 1 orange plus enough water to equal 3/4 cup liquid
1 beaten egg
1-1/2 cups raw cranberries, cut in half
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Grease either a 9" loaf pan or two mini loaf pans. Preheat oven to 350 deg. F.
Sift together the first five ingredients into a large bowl. In a small bowl combine the oil, orange zest, liquid and egg. Add this mixture all at once into the dry ingredients. Stir just until combined.
Fold in the cranberries and nuts. Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s).
Bake at 350 for 1 hour for a large loaf or 45 minutes for 2 small loaves.
Do not double the recipe. You'll have to stir the batter too much and will get tough loaves.