We are having some really difficult days in our family right now. I don’t talk a lot about day to day events here on the blog, but I have been so absent here lately, and events have kind of overwhelmed us, so I thought I would share a little bit.
Late last year, Larry’s youngest sister, Janet began to experience some changes in how she was feeling. A lack of energy and just not feeling like herself. In the last couple weeks it has been discovered that she has a very aggressive form of cancer, and the effect has been dramatic and devastating. In purely human terms, her prognosis is not encouraging.
We are, however, people of faith, so we have been praying for a different outcome. But, though we are still believing a miracle is possible, the treatments aren’t doing much so far, and it may be that His will is for her healing to take place on the other side of this life. We are accepting of what He decides, difficult though it may be.
Janet and I have been more than just sisters in law. We started our families together, living next door to each other for many years, learning how to be wives and mothers, as well as learning to follow Jesus together. We stuck by each other through some difficult trials, and though we don’t live next door anymore and haven’t seen each other daily in more recent years, our love for one another has remained a sustaining thread in our lives.
Feeding the people we love was something Janet and I enjoyed doing together, and I find myself, these last couple weeks, thinking a lot about those early years, when our families gathered so often, at each other’s houses for dinner. We cooked together, while our kids ran around the yard, burning off the energy from being stuck in school all day, and then when Larry and Bob got home, all sitting together, laughing and eating and just enjoying one another.
There is a lot to be said for being the person responsible for cooking. People have to eat, no matter what. It’s comforting to me, to make food that people will enjoy, and that may lift their spirits, even if it is only for a few minutes. This particular recipe is one I began working on after the holidays last year, and it’s finally where I want it now. It’s a little later in the month than I originally planned to share it, but I’m willing to bet that some of you still have leftover eggnog and cranberries, because they both keep a long time. And, this is so good, that it would even be worth going out and buying a few things, just so you can enjoy it.
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 1 & ⅓ cups eggnog
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- 4 ounces melted butter
- ¼ cup rum [optional, see directions]
- 2 cups fresh cranberries, roughly chopped
- Preheat the over to 350º and generously butter a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan. This makes a big loaf, so 8 by 4 is definitely not big enough. It would make 4 mini loaves.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.
- In another medium bowl, whisk the eggs for about 30 seconds.
- Add the sugars and whisk until the mixture lightens slightly.
- Add the eggnog, vanilla and almond extracts and whisk until well incorporated.
- Add the butter, whisking constantly, so that it doesn't separate. It might a little anyway, but that is okay.
- Whisk in the rum - if you opt to leave the rum out, use ¼ cup more of the eggnog.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture, and fold together - it will be a fairly wet mixture, and a few small lumps are ok.
- Fold in the cranberries.
- Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan, and bake for about 80 to 90 minutes turning every 30 minutes or so. This may seem like a long time, but it needs this long. If the top begins to get too brown, tent it with some aluminum foil for the last bit of baking time. I also like to use an instant read thermometer to ensure things are baked enough - the temperature for this should be at least 195 - 200º, in the center of the loaf.
- Remove the loaf from the pan, and cool on a rack. Serve slices with butter, cream cheese, or whatever strikes your fancy. It is awesome toasted.
- Store leftovers tightly wrapped and if keeping more than a day or two, refrigerate. It freezes well too.
It looks pretty comforting, don’t you think?I have gotten so many messages from those of you with whom I am friends on Facebook, and we are so grateful for them. It’s funny – I have often just said a word or two in a post where a friend is sharing a difficulty, and really I thought that it probably doesn’t make much difference, but I was wrong. So thanks for those very kind words.I really can’t say what direction things will take here over the next few weeks. I’ll blog if it makes me feel better I guess, and it often does, so we will see. In the meantime – go make something delicious for the people you love!