Life as I know It

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San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Add Memories, Stir Slowly

This is the time of nostalgia.

It seems as though every Christmas ornament, piece of greenery, homemade food, aroma, and music carries memories of years past. I find myself in the middle of work, just sitting and thinking of what I had hoped to accomplish and places and friends I had wanted to visit, but didn't quite manage to fit into life.

This coming year I vow to have more fun and to create more, visit with friends more, cook more, garden more, walk more, listen to more music, dance more, spend more time in Maine, and laugh and love more. Nothing fancy or far-fetched, just the simple things that warm a life from the inside out.

In honor of a friend's birthday, I pulled out my file of recipes and looked for something hearty and toothsome to bake. One of the first recipes out was the one for beer bread from my friend Bonny. I had tasted her warm beer bread a few years ago and begged her for the recipe. Now, when things are bothering me and I can't go outside and weed, I make soup and beer bread.

For the holidays, I chose some strong ales that have the aromas and taste of spices. They were perfect for this batch of baking. Herewith, and with a heartfelt flourish, I present my version of Bonny's Irish beer bread (which should be made with Guinness!).

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Butter your loaf pan.

For some reason, I plopped the bowl and my Grandmother Lovejoy's loaf pan right on top of the set table. Why? I don't know, but I ended up making a big mess everywhere.

I love the way the dry ingredients bubble once the beer is added.

Ended up pulling out yet another bowl and starting a second (then third) loaf. This is how the mixture looks after a few strong stirs.

Spooned the thick, aromatic mixture into Grandmother's loaf pan.

Poured the melted butter over the top.

...and fifty minutes later the first loaf was out and cooling.

...and then the second and third, which I baked in a new, high-fired Italian terra cotta pot.

...and after the bread cooled, I wrapped it in natural colored parchment baking paper, tied it with baker's twine, and decorated it with fresh rosemary. The fun part was delivering this to our dear friends Frank and Aline.

Thoroughly blend:

3 cups of flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
4 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
3/4 cup of sugar ( I often use honey and simply use a couple of tablespoons less than 3/4 cup sugar called for)

Make a "nest" in the middle of the mixed ingredients and add one bottle of beer. Stir thoroughly.

Transfer the ingredients to your buttered loaf pan.

Melt 1/4 cup of butter.

Pour the butter across the top of the loaf.

Bake for 50 minutes.

Ahhhh, if only our lives could be as simple and straightforward as this recipe.

I send you love across the miles and fond wishes for a joyous and healthy new year. 



Lemon Verbena Lady said...

Messes are what are best in life, Virgo sister. You and I remember are perfectionists! Just let it go and it will turn out! Now if only I could follow my own advice. xxoo LVL and The Herbal Husband wishing you a very Happy and very healthy New Year!

Pondside said...

What a treat for a rainy December afternoon! Your friend is sure to love such a gift.
I don't completely trust baking done in pristine conditions - a little mess and a riotous table somehow add to the goodness!

Vee said...

Your list for the New Year sounds just right. May it all work out as it is supposed to, especially with more time at your Maine home.

Your recipe for beer bread is very similar to mine...right down to the butter poured over the top. I haven't thought to give it such a lovely presentation for a friend, though. That's extra special.

Vicki Boster said...

Sharon- there is just something so satisfying and-- calming-- in making homemade bread. And the way it makes the house smell-- so wonderful! Thanks for sharing one of your treasured recipes --

Sending best wishes for your new year as well-- I hope it's a successful year for you and that you get to spend more time at home with family and friends.

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Nancy dear (aka Lemonverbenalady),

You would be AMAZED at the mess I make in the kitchen. You would also be amazed by the taste of your jelly on my bread. Fabulous!


Thea said...

Happy New Year, Sharon! xoxoxoxo t

Blondie's Journal said...

This sounds marvelous! I love Blue Moon beer...for drinking! But of course I would save some for the bread! :)

I hope next year is filled with all good things for you, especially simple pleasures. As for myself, I am going to slow down and try to live in the moment and create some beautiful memories. Thank you so much for being such a wonderful friend!


La Table De Nana said...

They look wonderful:)

Best to you in the new year~
Love your fresh flowers in the vases..with almost 2 ft of new snow..I have no flowers in my vases~


Pat said...

Ah...the messier the better!! Your bread sounds so good - for the body & the soul. Everyone must be in a baking mode - this afternoon our kitchen is a mess - a loaf of bread rises on the back part of our stove which is warm from the oven where homemade doggie biscuits bake - treats for our own furry companions & their friends.

Recently I read on another blog that I follow - on New Year's Day you should do what you love - whether it be gardening, reading, quilting or playing the piano - by doing so, it will ensure that throughout the year, there will somehow be time for that which you love. May we all be able to accomplish that! Love your outlook on 2013 - let the New Year begin:o)

Julie Marie said...

Hello dear Sharon... I love hearing your plans for the new year... you are such a wonderful lady and so full of life... I hope 2013 is the year I get to meet you, perhaps your book tour WILL come my way!... your bread sounds and looks delish, wish I had some right now!... I also love your wooden cooling rack, and that you make a mess sometimes too, like me!!!... wishing you and Jeff a very Happy New Year full of laughter and dancing and all the things you posted about... sending much love your way, xoxo Cousin Julie Marie

Primitive Stars said...

Ahhhh, the arom,a of fresh baked bread, so yummy, Enjoy.......Happy New Year, Sharon, Hugs Francine.

kj said...

Nothing that warms me better than fresh warm bread. I should say WHITE bread. I keep wanting to bake something healthier but in the end I fold :-)

All if your goals and hopes for the coming year are five star, ms Sharon honey. If you need any extra incentive: I dare you! And not just a few: all!

Love love

Linda Hoye said...

Homemade soup and bread. Could there be anything so comforting? Thanks for posting the recipe!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I'm so hungry for some fresh baked bread! Enjoy your weekend and Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Sharon your beer bread looks lovely--I love the presentation for your friends. Your vintage bowl is lovely. ♥
Martha Ellen

camp and cottage living said...

How did you know I'd lost my beer bread recipe? I'm thinking soup and beer bread will make an easy, but tasty New Years day meal.
Blessing in 2013!

Kay G. said...

I love any recipe that begins with "Butter your loaf pan".
Happy new year!

Comfrey Cottages said...

Blessings and all good things to you in the coming New Year, Sharon xx Mmmm homemade soups and bread.. plus a side of nostalgia... perfect for the time of the year xxx love to you!

joey said...

Yum, count me in ... love beer bread and this looks great!

Susan said...

You're so right about the memories; so much of what I do is tied to them. It's a good thing I'm not paid by the hour because my mind drifts. The beer bread looks wonderful and I remember making it the first time when we lived in California. It was such a lovely way to get a quick bread to taste a lot like tit's yeast bread counterpart when time was at a premium. I haven't made it in awhile, but will do it as soon as my oven is back to working. Happy New Year, dear friend, XOXO

Lorrie said...

I can almost smell the fragrance of bread baking as I read. Such a wonderful, homey scent. Soup and fresh bread are a perfect combination. Happy New Year, Sharon.

Lilbitbrit said...

Beer bread does sound good and reminds me of my mum making beer chicken.

The aroma is great.

Lil Bit British

Anonymous said...

this looks and sounds amazing, I love the natural colored parchment.I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Sounds yummy!
happy new year

Terra said...

Your beer bread sounds delish; I have a recipe somewhere from my grandma. I used to make it, and wonder if the butter is necessary.
Have a blessed New Year.

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Like all of you out there, I am so far behind in life right now with visitors, cooking, writing, and more.

Promise I'll update this soon. Thanks for your concern about me and thanks for all your sweet comments and the notes from you about your beer bread.



Lili said...

Wish I had a brew on hand right now to make this...I had never even heard of this before, but I just know it will be another fav of mine that I learned from you. The other one is that molten lava cake you posted...I make it way too much though! The terra cotta pot container and the wrapped version with twine and rosemary just helped fuel my creative juices. Wonderful! xoxo

Anonymous said...

What a lovely gift to give to a friend! I, too have been reflecting a lot on the past year. It was crazy busy with work and, sadly, this year is going to be worse. However, we are working to achieve a financial goal and with one more year of long hours and hard work we will achieve said goal. I must remember to stop and smell the roses from time to time and dream good dreams of a less hectic 2014! Happy New Year!

Jimmie said...

Oh Sharon,

We just ate the first slices of hot beer bread using your recipe. Good grief, it was heavenly! My husband paced the floor for at least ten minutes waiting for it to come out of the oven after smelling it baking. We slathered it with butter and pigged out.

I'll be baking this bread again.

Thanks so much for the recipe.

Diane in North Carolina

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi dears,

I have received over a dozen ECSTATIC personal reviews of the beer bread. So far everyone has loved it. I baked it again last week and used a very special spiced ale, which made it fabulous. Don't use cheap, weak beer in this or it won't have the deep flavor.



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