Baking Christmas Breads! Right…

Hi All,

The Holiday season is on us, and my part is spent in the kitchen, baking Christmas breads and cookies. Yum! I really enjoy baking. I like trying different recipes, but at Christmas the tried and true are comforting. So, this weekend, two away from Christmas, was my weekend to get this show underway. Boy, was I wrong!

With the help of my sister, Mountain lion; my grocery budget money, and the fact that I have a freezer with more flour in it than meat, I ventured forth on this beautiful Saturday in the Great Southwest. My husband was setting up for a band practice (a legends of Country music show), so the Steele player and two guitars: a tryout for my brother-in-law, to see if he could fill in if the lead guitar was unavailable. That was going on in the living room, just next to the kitchen. Okay, I can deal. I put my ear buds in and started listening to Christmas music (the only time of the year that I listen to the playlist I built last year on Spotify). It grew to 11 hours of listening pleasure recently when I added Loreena McKinnett’s Christmas album and Third Day’s Christmas album. A little excessive, I know, total ends of the spectrum, yes, but that’s how I fly.

Staying with the breads, y’all. I’m in the kitchen and facing the cranberries (fresh, of course). In the past I have chopped them by hand…and knife. This year, I’m working smart and using the blender. I felt so smart! I used the blender for the orange rinds, too, and so much easier. I was so thrilled! I was ahead of the game! I did fall back a bit and chopped the nuts by hand…and knife. Five cups worth. Good enough for at least five breads. Easy. Okay, moved onto the mix. This year we had some switch ups. Because of some health changes in the families we are going low glycemic and healthier on the fats. I really like butter, but cooking with Coconut oil is fine with me…I wear it, might as well eat it too. Mountain lion bought special sugars, so we were set. For two breads, I measured out the flour, and the rest of the dry ingredients. Now, Coconut oil, for those who don’t know, solidifies below 72 degrees, and believe it or not we have been below that temperature for a week. It has been wonderful! Anyway, I had to melt some of the Coconut oil to get the right measurement, which I did. Then, not thinking I added cold Almond milk, which solidified the oil…which I didn’t notice until I started stirring. By that time, I had to continue and hope for the best. All I can say is, you don’t have this problem with butter. Well, maybe a little, but not really.

I was excited! I was still ahead of the game. At this rate, I was seeing myself kicking back with a good Christmas movie and good company for the evening. I live in a house full of men: husband, sons, even the cats are all males. And, my ‘adopted’ brother, The Scott, had come for a stay over and my brother-in-law. I was ready to put two loaves in the oven and it was only 2:30 p.m. I would ‘ve been done and out of the kitchen by 6:00 p.m. Motivatin’! A preheated oven to 350 degrees, and…in go the loaves. I shut the oven door and looked down to see a bright light and…SPARKS?!! Why is my oven sparking?!!! My brain kicked into overdrive as I hit the ‘OFF’ button and grabbed for the door. I hailed my youngest son, who was replacing a fuel pump in the Volvo he inherited from his grandparents, and passing through the kitchen at that time, to look at this new phenomenon in my life. This disruption in my domesticity. My holiday seasonal delight! Baking is what I do. I have never had an oven behave so badly. With care and a wooden stick, he inspected the element that had sparked as if celebrating the Fourth of July. The prognosis was not good. Dr. Vulpes vulpes (if you don’t know, look it up) pronounced it dead. What followed was even more of the same. My husband and the band (well, Steele and the other guitarist, my brother-in-law) decided it was a good time for a break. Wolverine (my husband) went in search of an appliance store; I got on the Internet to locate the model number for the element, after refrigerating the now in jeopardy breads. I am still in my brain…this can’t be happening…this never happens. Yet, Murphy’s Law has a firm hold on this household. It was happening. Then The Scott mentioned something about building a fire, and Wolverine and I looked at each other…the grill!!

Foxworthy’s “You might be a Redneck” should have been flashing in yellow and red, in my brain, but to the grill we went. Wolverine had a fiery furnace ablaze in no time. He closed it to check the temperature…475! He threw water on it to cool it down. It finally hit 350, and with the excitement of baking as the pioneer women did, I brought the loaves out…and into the grill they went. Wolverine went back to his practice session, and I ‘manned’ the grill / oven. An hour later and the breads looked great, but not completely cooked. So, another quarter of an hour. At this point, I’m wingin’ it. The coals were cooling quickly, so I added more. The Scott suggested that I finish the loaves in the microwave. No toothpicks, so used the ol’ butter knife trick. Right? Still thrilled at baking in this fashion, but willing to go with a finish in the microwave, I had to get the breads out of the pans.

Gee, they looked a little charred on the edges. Using the trusty butter knife I freed the bread from the loaf pan and onto a safe plate. Charred was an understatement! Try black by 2 centimeters. By now, I just hope to salvage them for a taste. Gone are the vision of these special gems festively wrapped in foil, marked and bowed.

Well, dear friends, this is just a taste of my life. The day finished off with all my men in the living room playing battle of the bands. A game where you choose a personal favored song from the Internet…everyone gets a turn, well, several. They share and talk about the music. I have spent this delightful time hearing some great music, spirited conversation and sharing with you. Is this joy? You bet! The whole day has been one that I will not forget soon. I am home with family. Surrounded, like rings in a pool going out, by people who love me and will offer their help, even from a distance. Thank you, Mountain lion. Wish you, Bearsinger and Lobo 1 could have been here for all the action. So, I ask again dear reader, is this Joy? Yes, it is. God tests us, and with a smile and laughter, I think we passed today. I am blessed, and I hope this story blesses you.

PS – LOL! Welcome to my family. The names have been changed to protect the innocent…uh-huh. I don’t plan on them changing in the future, but if they do I will guide you.