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From the Wiggs family right-brained recipe file. No cookie cutters required!
Christmas Morning Plum Bread
Intensely Flavored, Moist Gingerbread
I adapted this from the Splendid Table website. I cannot tell a lie–I simplified it, increased the sugar and added the candied ginger and cayenne pepper. It’s pretty much the best gingerbread ever.
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup chopped candied ginger
- 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup molasses (dark corn syrup works, too)
- 3/4 cup very hot water
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
Preheat oven to 350°. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with waxed paper (you can also use 2 loaf pans or 4 mini loaf pans), coat with nonstick spray and dust with flour. Beat together the butter, molasses, hot water and brown sugar. Beat in the egg and quickly add the rest of the ingredients, stirring until blended. Pour into pans. Bake 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool on a rack in the pan.
I’m picky about Christmas music, but I’m ready for something new. Post your recommendations here!
For your listening pleasure, Barkis and I recommend these:
We Three Kings by The Roches has the single best rendition of “Deck the Halls” ever recorded.
Home for the Holidays by Stephanie Davis is smooth, beautiful and heartfelt.
Proceeds from A New Orleans Christmas (various artists) will benefit Habitat for Humanity in the Big Easy.
It’s not really Christmas without a Darlene Love album on the stereo.
A Christmas Celebration with Celtic Woman is haunting and relaxing, depending on the track.
And…drumroll…the all-time best Christmas album ever: The Jethro Tull Christmas Album.
Other than waiting for a couple of key deliveries, my shopping is done. Done! Oprah has her favorite things; here are a few of mine I’ve found for my friends and family who, with the exception of my perfect daughter, don’t read my blog:
Wolfermans English Muffins. The most important meal of the day, delivered.
A Kashwere bathrobe. This was listed as one of Oprah’s Favorite Things last year and it’s just one more thing to love about Oprah.
Medima angora long underwear. Lucky me, someone on my list wanted long underwear for Christmas. Instead of dying of boredom, I went looking for the Best Long Underwear Known to Man and here they are.
A beautiful travel wallet. Travel is so not fun anymore, you might as well have a classy-looking document holder in a yummy color.
A Gold Ball Necklace. It’s made from one ounce of gold and strong enough to back a truck over, although I have no idea why you’d do that. There’s only one place to get this. It’s an original creation by Drew at Gilbert Thomes Jewelers.
A Frolic in Shibuya planner - irresistibly cute in that Japanesey way, with creamy stock paper.
A Bugzooka – the perennial favorite. There is no feeling of accomplishment quite so heady as sucking a live bug, unharmed, into the Bugzooka, and then releasing it into the wild.
The Pop-up Book of Phobias. A clown in 3D comin’ atcha! Plus snakes, spiders, dentists, flying and other horrors.
Pottery from Ceramiche da Lena. She had me at the butter dish. I bought all new dinnerware in this amazing shop in Ravello, Italy a few years back, and I am now hopelessly addicted. According to newspaper clippings on the wall, others who shop here include Hillary Clinton and Madonna. This addiction is bad luck for me, since the value of the dollar has made it scandalously expensive.
Sfogliatelle. Another addiction I brought home from Italy. If you can find an Italian bakery near you that makes sfogliatelle, you have discovered the Eighth Wonder of the World.
A bowl or little box from Tiffany, for M&Ms or paperclips. Actually, anything from Tiffany will do.
A Jimi Hendrix lunchbox, in case you have a brother who doesn’t like Tiffany.
A shirt that will probably get my nephew beat up
I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence by Amy Sedaris. The last word on entertainment.
The Wave Board Street Surfer. Give this to someone who is very coordinated, or someone you don’t like.
A calendar you make from your own photos at Shutterfly.
Portolano gloves, the ones with the cashmere lining.
2007, like every other year, is the year of the book. Fully confident that none of my friends or family read my blog (really, they don’t), I’ll post a partial list of some of the books I’ve bought as gifts this year:
- Rabbit’s Gift by George Shannon. The ultimate pay-it-forward story, it is my pick for Picture Book of the Season.
- Ultimate Horse Barns by Randy Leffingwell. Bonus! This came signed by the author. Glorious coffee table book.
- On Strike for Christmas by you-know-who. The men take over the holiday preparations. Squeaky clean fun!
- Where Angels Go by Debbie Macomber–the annual Christmas tradition continues.
- The Edge of Winter by Luanne Rice. Nobody–but nobody–writes about the beach like Luanne.
- Street of a Thousand Blossoms by Gail Tsukiyama, signed by my sweet friend Gail.
- Rolling Paper Graphics. A curious art form, for sure.
- To Catch a Mermaid by Suzanne Selfors. A brilliant fantasy adventure for the middle-grade reader.
- Twilight by Stephenie Meyer for the teenage nieces–the book every teen is reading.
- Grace in Thine Eyes by Liz Curtis Higgs. A stirring Scottish historical by a very special author.
- Manspace: A Primal Guide to Marking Your Territory. A decorating book for guys.
- Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. A novel with an interesting premise involving Frank Lloyd Wright.
- Manners by Kate Spade. I knew there was a reason I love this woman!
- Ya-yas in Bloom by Rebecca Wells. Warm, tender and nostalgic, and it ends with a Christmas pageant!
- Meeting God in Quiet Places: The Cotswold Parables by F. LaGard Smith is the ultimate comfort read.
- The Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs. I bought this after listening to his podcast on Amazon.
- Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading by Maureen Corrigan. The book you need after all of the above.
Someone on my message board was asking about the torrential rains and wind in this corner of the world.
I think the boating is on hold for a while.