Coping mechanisms

I am extremely stressed out right now. To be fair, I spend at least three-quarters of my time dealing with stress or worry or anxiety, but in addition to the normal pressures of my brain and my life, I am trying to finish my dissertation by the end of June, get all of us out the door in the morning, and keep the house somewhat in order, all while feeling like the world is crashing down politically and otherwise.

So on a grey yesterday, I fled the university as soon as I was able in order to work from home. My time ended up with more “home” than “work,” but I was able to prepare dinner, bake bread, and revisit a recipe for cranberry orange walnut bread which I would like to share.

The recipe comes from Isa Chandra Moscowitz and Terry Hope Romano’s Veganomicon, which I originally bought for my husband for Christmas on a whim, as the name made me laugh, particularly as he had learned how to cook vegetables from some friends and referred to those lessons as “veggimancy.” (Yes, we are nerds and proud.)

Last year, when we decided to avoid eating meat or other animal products during Lent, it was a helpful resource, although I still haven’t used as many of the recipes as I would like. Since last year, I’ve enjoyed experimenting with plant-based cooking, though we are still confirmed omnivores. It’s just fun!

So, the recipe. It’s a fairly standard quick bread, and according to the writers, is based on an older Fannie Farmer recipe. (Note to self – spend more time reading up on Fannie Farmer. She seems like an excellent, fascinating person.)

I tweaked the recipe to include whole wheat flour and some spelt and decreased the sugar, as I almost always find vegan baking recipes to taste too sweet. I used 3 tablespoons of sugar in the bread and 1 tablespoon of sparkling sugar on top. It was good, though I think increasing the sugar in the cake by 1 tablespoon would work nicely as well and make the crumb a bit more tender.

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup  fresh cranberries, chopped
1 T orange zest
3-4 T granulated sugar, divided
1 T sparkling sugar (optional but I really liked it here)
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup oil (I used olive)
1/2 cup nondairy milk (I used vanilla flavored soy)
2 cups flour (I used 1 cup whole wheat, 1/2 cup spelt, and 1/2 cup all purpose flour.)
1/2 t salt
1 1/4 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
2/3 cup walnuts, chopped
(for additional flavor, you can toast the walnuts for 5-7 mins in a 400 degree oven)

Prepare a 9×5 loaf pan by greasing and flouring it. Preheat the oven to 325 Fahrenheit.

Chop cranberries and add 2 T of the sugar and the orange zest and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine orange juice, oil, and non-dairy milk. Add the remaining granulated sugar.

In a large mesh sieve placed over the mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Sift into the liquid ingredients.

Quickly combine the wet and dry ingredients with as few strokes as possible, and then add cranberries and walnuts and stir till just combined.

Place batter (it will be thick, almost a dough) in the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle the sparkling sugar, if using, over the top.

Bake for 55-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out without batter on it.

Have fun!

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Issues

I have a love-hate relationship with social media. When people post about themselves, presenting themselves so clearly to the world around them, I feel like my own world is less real, shrinking around me, claimed by the person who just posted about their quirky outing, their interest in baking, their funny child, or even their pressing problem.

There is something about seeing someone’s clear presentation of themselves — even if it is not overwhelmingly positive — that makes me feel less, diminished, no longer able to lay claim to being a Real Person.

So, on the advice of my husband, I’m returning to blogging, cutting out a little space of land for myself online. My goal is to post twice a week, chiefly about homemaking things. In the spirit of presenting myself to the world just a little, now, a few things about me, in no particular order:

  • I love ingredients. I get very excited to try new ingredients in new dishes.
  • I’m socially anxious and fairly neurotic, especially about illnesses.
  • I re-read the same books over and over and feel very proud when I actually read something new.
  • I enjoy budgeting.
  • I’m working on a PhD.
  • I dream of writing a home economic curriculum.
  • I also dream of having a well-organized pantry.