Apricot Coconut Quick Bread

When we started this blog almost a year ago, I wasn’t quite sure why I really wanted to try out this whole blogging thing.

I have worked to improve my food photography skills, sometimes with success, and other times, less successfully. But in the past few months I have realized that photography is not my passion.

Apricot Coconut Quick Bread

Apricot Coconut Quick Bread

Sometimes the lighting in my apartment is just right, and I love taking photos of my food. I love that I have learned to use my husband’s DSLR, and I am very proud of how far my photos have come.

But sometimes, the lighting is just blah and I am more invested in the process of cooking and sharing the food I make with others than in the process of photographing my food.

Sliced bread

Sliced bread

In the almost year we have been blogging, I have invented some delicious new recipes, but in the past few months I have realized that recipe development is not my passion.

I much prefer to be inspired by other peoples’ recipes or to just throw “a little of this and a little of that” into a dish, no measurements required. By the time Friday rolls around, I have pinned and bookmarked more recipes than I could ever tackle in one weekend, and I don’t really feel like creating something “new” of my own.

(Note: Mom got a new bunny apron this year!)

(Note: Mom got a new bunny apron this year!)

But blogging has helped me to learn more about myself and to find a way to articulate my true passion(s). It has helped me to understand why I cook, and it has awakened in me a curiosity about why other people cook.

Blogging has helped me to learn more about our food system, and to understand how my personal choices can and do have an impact on our larger food culture and food systems.

Blogging has helped me to understand that the pursuit of self knowledge and taking time out for self care make me a better person not only for those I love, but also enables me to work towards something greater than myself.

Hello gorgeous!

Hello gorgeous!

Blogging has helped my sister and I connect over food in a new way, and it has created a platform by which my family has begun to share stories about out “kitchen history.”

After losing our Grandma last August, these stories are more important than ever. They are slowing coming out—like a few weeks ago, when my Aunt Kris followed up on my post about pizza with an email telling me that Grandma used to make huge batches of pesto, with basil that the neighbors left on the porch for her (the whole plant, roots and all!), and froze it in ice cube trays to have on hand whenever it was needed.

Freshly baked

Freshly baked

All of this is to say that as life has gotten busy in the past few months, the frequency of our posts has decreased, and will likely continue to remain at 1 or 2 posts per week rather than 3 or 4. But I will continue to document and recount my kitchen adventures when I can! I assure you that I spend most weekends on my feet making one thing after another, even when I forget to take photos.

I whipped up this lovely loaf of bread last Saturday to serve on Sunday morning for Easter Brunch with the East Coast portion of my family (Casey was sorely missed). Inspired by Smitten Kitchen, I did what Deb said was not necessary, and adapted Bill Granger’s recipe for Coconut Bread. I wanted to incorporate the dried apricots that my sister’s mother-in-law brought as part of a house-warming basket for my parents, and this bread seemed the perfect use.

While I have no doubt that the original recipe was fabulous, I really love the addition of the apricots.

Served for Easter Brunch

Served for Easter Brunch

Apricot Coconut Quick Bread

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups canned coconut milk milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes 
  • 3/4 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 

Method

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar and coconut, and stir to mix. Make a well in the center, and pour in egg mixture, then stir wet and dry ingredients together until just combined. Add butter, coconut, and apricots and stir until just smooth — be careful not to overmix.

Butter and flour a 9×5-inch loaf pan, or coat it with a nonstick spray. Spread batter in pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool in pan 10 – 15 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.

Hope you had a happy Easter with your loved ones!

-L

WIAW–What I Ate Over the Holidays

While Lindsey and I were on hiatus for the holidays, I was shockingly lazy.  In a week and a half, my only exercise was one (ONE!) walk.  My usual physical activity was replaced by lots of kitchen activity!  For this WIAW post, I’m sharing some of the best dishes I made and ate while on vacation.

After my matinee performance on Christmas Eve, I hopped on a plane to Southern California to spend Christmas with my aunt, uncle, and parents.  Shortly after walking in the door, my uncle handed me a Cranberry, Gingerly cocktail.  YUM!  I have a bit of a ginger obsession, so this delightful concoction with ginger beer, ground ginger, and a garnish of crystallized ginger was right up my alley.  It was also a fun, festive shade of red.

Great way to kick off the break!

Great way to kick off the break!

Christmas morning began with coffee and mimosas.  After opening presents, we sat down for an delicious brunch.  My mom and aunt had prepared a Sausage, Fontina, and Bell Pepper Strata the night before, so we just had to pull it out of the refrigerator and bake it in the morning.  The creamy fontina cheese balanced the spicy Italian sausage wonderfully.  It was a delicious, savory dish.

Sausage Strata

Sausage Strata

We can’t have savory without sweet, so we also prepared Maple-Poached Pears with Ricotta and Pistachios.  These tasty pears could be served as a dessert as well.  They were so good!  The crunch of the pistachios was a nice contrast to the soft pears, and the ricotta kept the dish from being too sweet.  I will definitely make these again.

Poached Pears

Poached Pears

With beautiful food and beautiful weather, our table for Christmas Brunch looked lovely!

The table

The table

My main contribution to Christmas Dinner was a Gingerbread Layer Cake with Candied Kumquats.  I think I may need to bake this cake annually.  It looked great, and tasted even better.  The cake was moist and full of flavor.  The spices came through nicely.  The cream cheese frosting included a bit of caramel, so it ended up being a lovely cream color.  It was a sweet and creamy,  and complemented the ginger and molasses flavor of the cake well.  The candied kumquats were difficult to prepare (Thanks Mom and Aunt Kris!), but were delicious!  We used the leftover kumquats to top off a fruit salad the following morning.

Gingerbread Layer Cake

Gingerbread Layer Cake

Fruit Salad with leftover Kumquats

Fruit Salad with leftover Kumquats

My parents and I came home to Texas a few days after Christmas, and were later met by my sisters and their husbands.  Before they arrived, I met some old friends for a coffee date.  Someday I want to be able to make latte art that looks this good!  Props to the baristas at Buon Giorno for making this lovely latte.

Soy Latte

Soy Latte

The first morning the whole family was home, we did Christmas Round 2, complete with another Christmas brunch.  We prepared another strata, this time using broccoli, red pepper, mushrooms, and bacon.  We served a fruit salad and sweet breads with it.  Lindsey and I each prepared a bread the evening before.  She made Banana Bread, and I made Spiced Pumpkin Bread, which I modified to make a bundt instead of 2 loaves.

Our breads: Pumpkin Bundt and Banana Loaf

Our breads: Pumpkin Bundt and Banana Loaf

That evening we had a blast at our annual holiday party.  As usual, we prepared Caprese Sticks for our guests to munch on.

Platter of Caprese Sticks

Platter of Caprese Sticks

The full spread for the party

The full spread for the party

We enjoyed leftovers and what Lindsey referred to as “the obligatory Mexican meal” for the next couple days.  The last night the sisters were in town, we had a special New Year’s Eve dinner.  Lindsey made a delicious Roasted Parsnip Soup with Walnut Pesto for the first course.

Walnut Pesto

Walnut Pesto

We also ate roasted chicken with mushroom gravy, roasted vegetables, and a potato medley with rosemary.

First course

First course

I had so much fun with my family, and loved having the opportunity to cook together again!  It was the perfect way to wrap up the rollercoaster year of 2012.  I look forward to sharing more good food with good friends in 2013!

Cheers!

Cheers!

Happy Eating and Happy New Year!

-C