I struggle hard with gift giving. There are very rare occasions that I really nail it… but it’s almost never on someone’s birthday or around Christmas. This year I agonized over presents for my family. My mom always tells me not to get her anything (classic). So I’m left guessing. I know she genuinely doesn’t care what I get her, but I have to get her something. I mean, she gave me life.
I have to be very honest here… I literally almost got her nothing. This is not a proud statement for me. I kind of just threw my hands in the air on Christmas Eve and yelled, “FUCK IT,” startling my cat and probably several neighbors. But then I got to thinking about it, and I remember that not everyone is like me. Some people like knick knacks and nonsensical pretty things. So I went to one of my favorite little shops with a certain someone who was able to finally help me make a decision. I wandered through the whole store bitching and moaning (honestly, I don’t know how he was able to put up with me) that she wouldn’t like any of it. He held up shawls and scarves. I scoffed and pouted as I continually elbowed my way through the crowds of other panicked daughters. We walked into the kitchen area where he suggested a cookbook. Sighhhh. She doesn’t really cook much – not from new recipes anyway. And she’s not a new kitchen gadget kind of person. It just ends up frustrating her, and then she asks what was wrong with the way she was already doing the thing that the gadget is supposed to make easier. “How about this?” he asked, holding up a tea steeper in the shape of an adorable animal. But she doesn’t like tea. Or coffee. I honestly thought about getting her a case of Tab (yes, in fact, it is 1976), but she flies back to Florida next week. Also, seems kind of impersonal. I was about to give up when he said something along the lines of, “She doesn’t care. She’ll love whatever you give her,” while holding a pretty candle holder that had a forest pattern on it when lit, and I was convinced. The madness was over.
My love language is acts of service. I mostly want to feed people to show I care. I want to help them with a problem, support them when they’re struggling, help them paint their new apartment, or move into a new place. That’s how I show love. That’s what comes most naturally to me. Gift giving is hard because I want everything I give to be meaningful – because I really want to be of service. Turns out gift giving doesn’t have to be that serious, and I just need to calm the fuck down sometimes. Shit. Like, what’s the big deal? Buy someone a candle and move the fuck on.
Also, who are those people that purchase the perfect gift whenever they happen to find it and then hoard it until that person’s birthday or Christmas? HOW DO I BECOME YOU?
I made this bread along with some pumpkin bread to give my family as well. Because let’s be real – I’m never going to stop feeding people.
Cranberry Orange Bread
For the bread:
1 cup cranberries – fresh, frozen, dried (or a combo – I did mostly fresh and a handful of dried)
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg (at room temp… place into a warm cup of water for 5 minutes if you forget to set it out)
1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup buttermilk (Don’t have it? Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to regular milk.)
1/3 cup vegetable/canola/coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons orange zest
For the crumble top:
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter, cold and cut into cubes
For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice (I used the juice from the orange I “zested” for the bread)
As much orange zest as you like!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×5 loaf pan (or several mini loaf pans!) and set aside. You’ll want to make the crumble top first and set it in the fridge, just so it’s all ready to top the batter.
For the crumble top:
Mix all the dry ingredients in a medium to small mixing bowl. Cut the cold butter in with a pastry cutter (for the fancy folks), a couple of forks (I found that to be impossible), or your hands (this is easiest!) until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set in the fridge.
For the bread:
In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add in the cranberries and set aside. In another bowl, mix the egg with the brown and white sugars until smooth. Whisk in buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and orange zest. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing gently but thoroughly. No lumps allowed! The recipe says to not over-mix… not sure what happens if you do. Try not to fuck it up.
Pour the batter into grease pan(s) and cover with the crumble top, pressing it lightly into the batter. Bake for 45-60 minutes (the smaller pans need less time, so check them after 35 minutes).
For the glaze:
Whisk all ingredients together. Boom. Done. Allow to cool completely before removing from pan(s) and drizzling the glaze over the top.
Give these to everyone for Christmas/Birthdays/etc. Or just eat them all by yourself. Fuck it.