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Baking Christmas Gifts-the Gift that Keeps on Giving

Do the holidays cause you to reminisce?  My thoughts are traveling back to Christmases past.

  • Cutting a real Christmas tree and my sister, Missy, and I trying to get it in the stand.
  • Wrapping presents with the comics from newspapers.
  • Finding oranges, apples and nuts in our stockings (along with a book of Lifesavers, and chocolate covered cherries.)
  • The anticipation I felt waiting on Christmas Eve for Santa to come.
  • Cooking Christmas treats to share with friends.

Cooking strawberry bread was one of my favorites.  One of the recipes we used required you to cook the bread in metal coffee cans. (I wonder if that was a cooking phase, and if any of you tried that recipe years ago.)

As I was thinking about this bread today I began to think about the opportunities that came with it.  This was a family cooking project.  We came together in the kitchen to cook.  We talked about who we would like to bless with our cooked bread.  Those were good conversations.

Creating a space for children to learn about giving is a rich opportunity.  When Mom allowed me input it helped me to become more invested in the giving.  I wanted to see the reaction on peoples’ faces when they received the gift we made with so much tender loving care.

Mom has had my children out to help her, even when they were young, as she made gifts for the postman and the garbage collector.  What an awesome lesson to teach children to see our community helpers and thank them for what they do to help.

But these goodies can become even more than a thank you.  As I am writing I am realizing there is a dear friend who is in her 90’s.  We could take bread to this year.  She would probably like the bread, but she would LOVE the visit from our children.  We could take tea and cut her some bread while we visit.  To know she had been thought of, planned for and cared about could be one of her favorite gifts this season.  All we need is a loaf of bread and a little time.

There is a friend who has little several little children .  It is harder for them to get out of the house right now.  We could go visit them and plan a little tea party for her little ones.  The recipe: a blanket, some apple cider and strawberry bread..

Maybe you do not have children who will be cooking with you this season…not a deal breaker.  Turn on your favorite Christmas songs and enjoy singing while you cook.  As you cook maybe your questions may be different.  Who would you like to sit with for a little while?  Maybe there is a lady you have admired from a distance but have not taken the time to engage.  This could be your opportunity.  Call her and ask her if she might like to visit…you’ll bring the bread.

You know Jesus called himself the “bread of life.” He said, “No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again.” (John 6:35)

As you go, He goes with you.  He has always loved the one in front of Him so well.  He will help you to do the same.  Honestly, none of us need just another good thing to do.  This is an invitation to step out of the usual hustle and bustle.

Enjoy the opportunity to gather.

 

 

Lucy’s Strawberry Bread

3 cups of flour                                     1 cup of pecans (optional)

2 cups sugar                                         1 t. salt

1 small pkg. frozen strawberries      4 eggs beaten

3 t. cinnamon                                       1  1/4 cup oil

1 t. baking soda

 

Sift all dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl.  Make a deep hole in the center of the dry ingredients.  Pour the rest of the ingredient into the hole.  Stir carefully.  Only stir enough to dampen and mix the ingredients.  Pour into well greased bread pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. I used one large bread pan and one medium bread pan.

I test all my bread with a stick test with an Amish Broom Cake Tester before taking them out of the oven.  This often looks done on the top but the center may not be completely done. There is a wonderful invention that looks like a small handheld broom but it is only for cooking.  By breaking off piece and sticking it into the bread you can see if the bread if done on the inside.  A clean stick means the bread is ready.  If some dough comes out on the stick it need to cook some more.  This is probably one of my faves in the kitchen. If the top of your bread looks brown and the center needs more time you can loosely lay a piece of aluminum foil over the top until you are finished to keep the top from burning.

I saw a bread pan at William Sonoma the other day and am kicking myself for not grabbing it for this recipe.  It is absolutely beautiful and I think this bread would be beautiful in it.Nordic War Anniversary Loaf Pan If you wanted to bump it up even another notch you could sift powder sugar over the top of the loaf just before serving.

I would love to hear you feedback.  Post in the comments about how you like the bread. We would all love to hear your success in gathering stories.  When you share we all get the blessing of your ideas! It would be wonderful if your success lead to the success of another and another and another…

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