Happy Feast of Saint Nicholas!
For those unfamiliar, the 6th of December is a day set aside to commemorate Saint Nicholas, the historic 4th-century Bishop and Saint who is the inspiration for Santa Claus. According to legend, Saint Nicholas had a reputation for secret gift-giving, particularly in the form of placing coins in shoes that were left outside. On the Feast of Saint Nicholas, children all over the world wake up to find their shoes filled with treats, traditionally chocolate gold coins.
After we were married, Paul and I filled each other's shoes with various treats in order to continue this tradition. He normally filled my running shoes (yum!) with dark chocolate and I normally stuffed some type of cheese ball/cheese spread/cheese dip (sense a theme?) along with appropriately paired crackers in his winter boots. Last year, we presented Matthew with his very first Saint Nicholas Day gifts and he was less than impressed. He received a small board book about the nativity and a box of animal crackers. However, he was in such a foul mood that he pretty much refused to look at it until he had woken up a little bit more.
Thankfully, this year he wakes up in a pretty good mood most of the time.
Unfortunately, that meant he was up by 4:30 AM.
Paul and I let him sit in his bedroom for about an hour before we went to free him. He was perfectly content. He had a book all about puppies that our local Humane Society had given him and he was content just sitting in his crib, barking at the dogs in the pictures.
Once we got him up, he ran downstairs and saw his shoe filled with pretzel M&Ms, a Thomas the Tank Engine sticker book, and a snack pack of Nutter Butters (I'm secretly hoping he doesn't like those so I can have a couple!). He was thrilled...especially by the idea that his magical shoe had somehow given birth to treats overnight. By 5:30, he had gobbled down all the M&Ms and was already searching the interior of all his shoes (his boots, his dress shoes, his sandals, etc.) for more treats. He's going to be searching for an awful long time, because the Feast of Saint Nicholas comes but once a year!
For breakfast this morning, along with the normal feast of oatmeal and bananas, we enjoyed the first seasonal baked good: Cranberry Lemon Bread. This is probably my favorite quick bread recipe because it is light, lemony, slightly tangy, and not to sweet. I was surprised by how much Matthew appeared to love the recipe since the cranberries can be a bit tart. However, he greedily gobbled down multiple slices in between desperate searches for more chocolate. The little sugar addict.
This recipe is adapted from the Cranberry Nut Bread recipe found on the bags of Ocean Spray Fresh Cranberries. Their version calls for orange juice and zest, which is absolutely delicious, but I cannot resist making a lemon version.
adapted from Ocean Spray
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 egg, well beaten
1 1/2 cups Fresh or Frozen Cranberries, coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan.
Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in milk, lemon juice, lemon peel, oil and egg. Mix until well blended. Fold in cranberries. Spread evenly in loaf pan.
Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (be careful not to over or under-bake!). Cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife along the sides, and then carefully remove from the pan and allow to cool completely on wire rack. Wrap and store overnight before slicing and serving.