Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Citrus Bread

This is an image of near perfection. Oh sweet orange, sun-kissed and dripping with goodness, I can almost smell the pure warmth and sunshine that you share so selflessly. What a thoughtful gift from nature and the sunny state of Florida. 

Growing up, my family would spend many a cold, February day thinking about the warmth of the sun that we were so desperately missing. We would travel south, seeking solace from these bitter, New England winters. The most logical destination for us was Florida. This was the hospitable climate we craved during those long, gray days. Florida was also where my grandfather called home. 

My grandfather, my mother's father, had retired down there long before I had the chance to start forming any solid memories of him. To the best of my knowledge, I don't even have any candid photos of him, let alone he and I. All that I could find was this sole portrait of him from an old church bulletin and me as a little one in his Floridian yard.

But in addition to Grampy's house, with all that there is to see and do in that part of the state, as a young girl one of the things that I liked best about these trips was all of the orange groves that we passed in our travels. (I was an odd child.) Being a New England girl, I knew damn well that citrus wasn't one of those things we could grow up this way. Apples, yes. Pears, yes. Peaches, yes. But oranges? Nope. I was truly enamored by the sights and smells of these wonders. I fixated on every glimpse I could get of these magical, majestic trees. We would always end our trips by purchasing one of these huge bags of Florida oranges.

I can think of nothing better to do once the calendar flips to February, back up here in New England, than to put all of those glorious oranges to work for me.  While we may not be taking our winter breaks down south anymore, those beautiful Florida oranges are in abundance here in our local food marts all winter long. This citrus bread is up for the challenge. It takes on just enough of that orange flavor to satisfy any citrus-loving sweet tooth. 

Citrus Bread


2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup plus 2 T self-rising flour

4 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

2 sticks (1/2 lb) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly butter a 5x8 inch loaf pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour and the self-rising flour. In a large bowl, cream the eggs, sugar and orange zest. Add the butter and stir until combined. Add the orange juice. Fold in the dry ingredients and pour into the prepared pan.
  2. Bake the citrus bread for about 1 1/4 hours, or until the top is golden and cracked and a skewer inserted in the center comes our clean or with a few crumbs on it. Cover the loaf with foil about half way through baking. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Let cool completely before slicing. 

Needless to say, this does not last very long in our house. 

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine

Saturday, January 16, 2016

10 Things

Lists. Oh how I love to make lists. Most of the time I make lists that will bring me some much needed instant gratification. You know, lists of things that I can do and then cross them off. Having a visual reminder of my accomplishments is truly uplifting. I'm not going to lie, I've even be known to put "wake up" on my list so that I can immediately cross it off and start the day on a positive note. Sometimes when feeling particularly introspective, I make lists that are not meant to be crossed off. Today was one of those days. Here I give to you a list of some things that I think we could all use once in a while. 
  1. A friend.
  2. A therapist - although I'm not sure these two are mutually exclusive. And upon further thought and consideration, either could potentially be substituted by a good hairdresser or perhaps even a sympathetic bartender. 
  3. A realllllly hard core, side-splitting fit of laughter. 
  4. A good job that provides affordable health care and an actual living wage. 
  5. A hug. Always. 
  6. A buddy, which is different than a friend. Although a friend could be a buddy and vice versa, this is not always the case.  For instance, in my family I was the friend and my ex-husband, the buddy. I was there, always, good times and bad, and he was there if you wanted to have a good time. But my goodness! I am not at all trying to suggest I would like my ex back. No thanks. Been there, done that. I'll take an adult buddy, thank you very much. 
  7. Some strong shoulders. Those that could hold up the world for us for just long enough for us to find the strength to do it ourselves.
  8.  Time in the woods, at the beach, in the mountains - nature. Anywhere that one can absorb the quiet, still, unadulterated beauty that is all around us but not always seen or recognized. 
  9. An occasional cocktail or two. Or three. Even better if it can be enjoyed with #1 or #6.
  10.  Someone to remind us that even the worst, darkest storms always come to an end and that the sun will shine once again.

Hang tough. Love passionately. Live large.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Finding My Way

I used to be someone who felt truly and honestly nourished in my life.  There was always a song in my heart and joy in my days.  My energy and my confidence were operating at warp speed and I felt a strong sense of purpose. Somewhere along the way, over the years I lost that feeling. It happened so gradually that I didn't notice the change in direction I had taken.  I allowed my body to be neglected and abused by an excessive consumption of frankenfoods and a chronic bout of inactivity. My mind hadn't been properly stimulated in what seems like years. When was the last time I even read a book?!  As a result, I lost the job that I loved and my spirit has come close to the breaking point. It hasn't crashed yet, but it's in need of resuscitation.

Fortunately, I've been jolted awake before I've reached a point of no return. As I stand here today, I am blessed to have the opportunity to see the questionable path that I was headed down and to make a concerted effort to take a sharp turn.

So here I am, consciously changing course and putting myself back on the road to the wholesome life I used to live and enjoy. May each day be greeted with the awesome possibility it possesses. Here's to being productive, serene and joyful.  And may each day continue to provide me with the opportunity to discover what truly matters in this life.