'Twas the Night Before Christmas...Remix

The original A Visit from St. Nicholas was published anonymously in 1823, and it wasn't for another 14 years that Clement Clarke Moore admitted that he wrote it. A few years ago, I wrote this little take on C.C. Moore's A Visit from St. Nicholas, and I figured I'd share it on the 191st publication anniversary of the original. Even though my newborn is a toddler now, and the puppies are older, not much has changed.

'Twas the Day Before Christmas

‘Twas the day before Christmas, when all thro’ the house,

All the creatures were stirring, even the cat-nip filled mouse;

The laundry was folded in the basket with care,

In hopes that everyone could find something to wear;

My newborn was nestled all snug in his carrier,

With carols playing to make the day merrier.

And I in my PJs, crocheting a cap,

And Dad on the couch in the midst of a nap –

When out on the lawn there arouse such a clatter,

I sprang from the chair to see what was the matter.

Away to the backdoor I flew like a flash,

Tore open the slider and grabbed the treat stash.

The puppies were trodding on three day-old snow,

And were barking like crazy at the poor UPS schmo;

When, what to my wondering ears should appear,

But the highest pitched barks heard all the year.

From two little beagle puppies, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment we were in quite a predic—ament.

More rapid than eagles their barking it came,

And I whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name:

“Now! Doc-y, now! Wyatt, now! Stop barking, shut up.

On! Doc-y, on! Wyatt, on! Oh, be a good little pup;

Go back to the porch! Get in to the hall!

Now dash inside! Dash inside! Dash inside all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

The puppies ran in circles, before they agreed to go inside;

So up the stairs to the back door we all flew,

A freezing cold me and two shivering puppies, too:

And then in a twinkling, I heard in the kitchen,

The sound of a cat who was clearly being bitten.

As I broke up the skirmish and was turning around,

Down the basement stairs the cat went with a bound:

The puppies tried to follow, but were blocked by a door,

So they sat there and whined and barked a tiny bit more;

The sound woke the baby who was asleep on his back,

And he fussed for a second in need of a snack:

His eyes – how they twinkled! His dimples: how merry,

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;

His droll little mouth was drawn up in a bow,

And his diaper was full of surprises down below.

He bit on his fingers trying to cut teeth,

And his cowlick stuck up around his head like a wreath.

He had a broad face, and a little round belly

That shook when he laugh’d, like a bowl full of jelly:

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly little elf,

And I laughed when I saw him in spite of myself;

A twinkle in his eye and a twist of his head

Soon let me know I had only his diaper to dread.

He spoke not a word, since he only babbles some,

But I know that soon enough full sentences will come.

The stink of the diaper made it up to my nose,

And I picked up my son and in my arms he arose.

The puppies barked again, and I gave them a whistle,

And thro’ the house they all flew, like a puppy-launched missile:

And I had to exclaim, as they bounded out of sight --

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good Christmas Eve night.

Christmas Cranberry Bread

My tastes are funny when it comes to cranberries and the foods derived from them. I love cranberry juice: neat, on the rocks, as a lemon-lime soda spritzer, or with a splash of vodka - pass me a glass. Cranberry sauce and dried cranberries - meh, no thanks. And up until last week, I thought the only good use for fresh cranberries was for a bit of color on a popcorn garland. In short, for the birds. Then I spotted a recipe for Cranberry Bread next to the recipe for Shaker Daily Bread, and I thought, "That doesn't sound too bad." A few days later, there was a great sale on fresh cranberries (due to this year's surplus, perhaps?), and I decided to give it a go. The price was so good, I almost couldn't afford not to try it.

I'm glad I did. The bread was wonderful and perfect for the holiday season. It had a nice crunchy crust and a soft, chewy inside that was pretty fantastic. I omitted chopped walnuts, but the original recipe calls for them. I think this bread would be perfect for Christmas morning, especially since you're supposed to bake it a day before you intend to eat it. With all the hustle and bustle, it would make for a great way to start the day.

SONY DSCChristmas Cranberry Bread❄❄

Yield: 1 loaf

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 cup sugar (or to taste)

1-1/2 tsp baking powder

grated rind of 1 orange

fresh squeezed juice of 1 orange

boiling water

1 egg, beaten

2 tbs vegetable oil

1 cup fresh cranberries, ground

1. Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

2. Transfer orange juice and grated rind into a measuring cup. Add enough boiling water to make 3/4 cup liquid.

3. Add orange juice, egg, and oil to dry ingredients and mix until dry ingredients are moistened.

4. Fold in cranberries.

5. Bake in greased loaf pan at 325 degrees for 60-70 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Let loaf sit for 12-24 hours before cutting.

20141207_071430

A few notes:

❄ I used the food processor to grate the cranberries. It was quick to pour them in and let the Cuisinart do the rest. I suppose you could substitute in some dry cranberries, if you prefer, and the bread would be a bit more like a raisin bread.

❄ You could always make this a cranberry-nut bread by adding in coarsely-chopped walnuts.

❄ Even though I used fresh cranberries, the bread came out super sweet. If you aren't a fan of really sweet breads or would like the tartness/bitterness of the berries to come through, I recommend dialing back on the sugar.

❄ The original recipe said to wait 24-hours before cutting, but I couldn't wait that long to try it. I'm impatient, what can I say? I think you're supposed to wait a day so that the bread is easier to cut, but I had no problem at all slicing it 12 hours after baking.

❄❄ This recipe was modified from the Cranberry Bread recipe in Jeff Smith's THE FRUGAL GOURMET COOKS AMERICAN.