The other day, someone asked me if turkey dinner was part of my week.
My answer was, “I’m not sure.”
If by turkey dinner you mean cooking a big bird, making dressing, potatoes, greens and pecan pie, then the answer is no.
Which reminds me of a past Thanksgiving story.
I was a journalist living in the San Francisco Bay Area, on deadline writing three articles for a national women’s magazine. Unfortunately, it was raining cats and dogs and I caught a miserable cold. Like a trooper, I took my Brittany down the stairs of my rustic bungalow, outside into the pouring rain and into my garage-converted study. Working late into the night by candlelight amid intermittent power outages, I was interrupted by a light knock on the wooden door. It was Virginia, my landlord, an octogenarian woman who was my surrogate grandmother with European roots and a heart of gold.
In the hands of a short, plump woman with facial wrinkles of experience, she handed me a large bag. Inside it was a care package complete with roasted turkey from the deli, oranges, dried cranberries, walnuts, sore throat lozenges, and bottled water. I was moved and grateful for her generosity.
And thanks to the Good Samaritan, I finished each article and pleased my editor; I survived the cold. One week later my dear friend was home sick with a cold. She called me requesting a few wellness items at the store. Without hesitation, I whipped up a Cranberry Orange-Nut Bread and while it was baking, got the goods, including orange juice, cough syrup, and aspirin. When I delivered the bag of goods to my “Gran” she gave me a slight smile. No words needed. I got it. It was the gift of gratitude.
European-Style Cranberry Orange-Nut Bread
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (1/4 is for high altitude) (if preferred use half whole-wheat flour)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon orange zest
2/3 cup fresh premium orange juice (pulp, not concentrated)
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 organic brown egg
2 tablespoons European-style butter, soft
1 tablespoon walnut oil
1 tablespoon orange-flavored olive oil (I used blood orange)
1 cup fresh or dried cranberries, chopped (I used fresh and sprinkled with brown sugar)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
Olive oil or extra butter for greasing loaf pan
If you prefer a drier bread, use dried cranberries and cut the orange juice to 1/2 cup.
In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. Stir in honey, zest, juice, buttermilk, egg, butter, and oils. Fold in berries and nuts. Lightly grease (with olive oil or butter) in a 9-inch-by-5-inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 50-60 minutes or until firm and golden brown. Cool. Slice. Serve with clover honey (lemon cream honey adds a nice kick) or butter. Serves approximately 12 slices.
This fruit-nut bread is a gift of good health. Both fruit and nuts go back to the beginning of time. The contrast of sweet and tart flavor from the fresh cranberries and citrus and meaty crunch of nuts is good and the moist texture is better. A slice of Cranberry Orange-Nut bread spread with honey and paired with a cup of hot black or green tea or gourmet coffee (cinnamon spice or French vanilla is nice for autumn) will boost your mental and physical powers. Simply use the burst of energy to recall who you’re thankful for and pay it forward.
Motto: Giving and receiving is what Thanksgiving is all about; the turkey dinner is trimmings.
— Cal Orey, M.A. is an author and journalist. Her books include “The Healing Powers” series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, and Coffee) published by Kensington. The Healing Powers of Coffee is featured by the Good Cook Book Club, and the series is sold at Walmart stores nationwide. Currently, she’s writing the Olive Oil second edition. Her website is www.calorey.com.