Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Surrogate Baking

Growing up I always felt lucky that I had 2 sets of living grandparents. Even in elementary school, few of my friends could make this claim. Three of my grandparents lived into their nineties. I wrote to them often, but our relationship was not a close one because we were separated geographically. I got to see them only every 5 years or so.

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.


Deborah said...

I have to admit that I'm jealous, because the one thing my neighborhood lacks is friendly neighbors! What a great experience for your daughter, and a beautiful bread!

Rosanne said...

Sounds wonderful and I'll try out this recipe as I have some leftover cranberries to use up!

Amanda said...

I am so excited to see this recipe up here! I've been looking for a good cranberry recipe since I've got some left over after I made my bundt cake. I will definitely put this one to good use.

Peabody said...

Very sweet that your neighbor hangs out with your daughter.

Peabody said...

Very sweet that your neighbor hangs out with your daughter.

Melinda said...

My daughter gave me some silicone mini-loaf pans for Christmas. I think this sounds perfect for their first baking voyage! I'll let you know when I make/bake them.

Gigi said...

What a great post and with a lovely cake recipe! Fantastic as always.

Big Boys Oven said...

this is lovely... cranberries is very handy... can be sour when eaten fresh but once baked they are adorable like your creation!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Umm...I don't want to be a far away grandparent. I want to be the neighbor!
I know the more adults in a child's life, the better things turn out.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I love the cranberries in the little cake but then I really love cranberries.

Debra said...

I love the combination of zest + cranberries + walnuts. I love your blog!

Dee Light said...

What a wonderful story!! I'm so happy that your daughter has an adopted grandparent to connect with. I know it is a special bond for them both.

Thanks for sharing the recipe. I will have to give it a try!!

Amy said...

Aw that's so cute! I love having a baking buddy. :) This recipe is a keeper for me. Thanks!

katiez said...

I love cranberry bread - I still have 4 loaves in my freezer!
I never knew any of my grandparents, but growing up in a small town; and being a nosy talkative child, I had a lot of substitutes. Lucky you and your daughter, both!

Nora B. said...

It's great to have people like Mrs G & K around. And you got declious baked goods as a bonus!

This bread sounds delicous and looks so light. I can't find fresh cranberries in Singapore or Sydney, but I'm sure that I can find something else to substitute it with.


JEP said...

Delightful post today!

Tartelette said...

This post reminded me how the other day my neighbor and friend Camille said "you are the twins'surrogate Auntie" and I was beaming! How nice of your neighbor but again I bet your kids are delightful to have around!
The cake is just gorgeous!

eatme_delicious said...

How wonderful to have such a nice neighbour. I hope to have a neighbour like that when I have kids. I don't like cranberries but I do want to try this loaf - maybe with blueberries.

VeggieGirl said...

I only have one living grandparent (my paternal grandfather - he's 90 years old), but I"m lucky to have a great relationship with him, since he lives within walking distance of my home. I always share the products of my latest baking adventures with him, and he loves it :0)

so lovely that K and your daughter made this quick-bread together - a delicious way to make lasting memories!

kickpleat said...

i had a neighbour like that growing was a handy next door grandma + grandpa! i loved it. as for your bread, it looks so delicious. i think i'll have to seek out some cranberries again!

Marcia said...

Lynn, your bread looks divine! I've never tried cranberries (I've never found them here in Brazil), but your recipe is so good, I'm sure I'd love it.

skinnymum said...


Baked this yesterday and it was awesome, yummy delicious.... It was a hit with the family. Thanks for sharing the recipe.