Happy new year! I say this every year, but 2011 really flew by. It seems like just the other day that I was still getting used to writing “2011” on my time sheets, and then, well, life happened – the million everyday moments that march by unnoticed and under-appreciated. And suddenly, here we are in January 2012, and I’ve been so caught up in pumpkins and then holiday treats that I’ve failed to post a single recipe involving cranberries, that quintessential winter baking ingredient, which are staring me in the face every time I go to the grocery store.
Three years ago, when I graduated from law school, I thought that would pretty much be the end of big milestones for me for a while, aside from obvious ones like getting married. Up till then, my life had always been demarcated by school. But as I settled into working full-time, I realized that life never stops bringing big events – maybe not all of them are milestones per se, but a lot are definitely notable.
2011 was probably the most eventful year I’ve had in a while. I became a property owner for the first time. I traveled a lot – London, Puerto Rico, the Czech Republic and Vienna, California multiple times, Washington, D.C., and New York. I started this blog as a creative outlet and as a forum to improve my photography skills. I initiated the process of transferring to one of my firm’s California offices. I’ve taken on new challenges at work that have allowed me to grow professionally. And there’s been a good deal of self-reflection, so hopefully I’ve grown personally as well.
And you know what, I think 2012 is going to be an even bigger year. In less than two weeks, I’ll be starting a new life in Los Angeles. It will be a much-needed change of scenery and breath of fresh air. From my current vantage point, at the risk of sounding starry-eyed, the possibilities really do seem endless. So here’s to 2012. I’m excited and beyond curious to see what it’ll bring.
P.S. This cornbread is the best I’ve had in ages – if everything I eat in 2012 is this good, I’ll be very happy. It has that perfect grainy texture, the maple glaze imparts a lovely sweetness, and the cranberries and pecans add special touch. Put a dab of butter on it (I used regular butter, but I’m sure the maple butter included in the recipe would be fantastic) and your taste buds will explode. Those weight-loss resolutions can wait another day or two.
Cranberry Pecan Cornbread
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
Yields 12 mini loaves
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 whole egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Butter and maple syrup, for brushing
For the maple butter:
1 stick butter, softened
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a mini-loaf, mini muffin, or regular muffin pan.
In a large bowl, combine corn meal, flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder.
In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk, milk, egg, and baking soda. Add to cornmeal mixture and stir to combine. Add vanilla extract, then stir in dried cranberries and pecans.
Pour into a greased mini-loaf, mini-muffin, or muffin pan, filling each well about halfway full. Try to make sure cranberries stay evenly distributed. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. (You may need to reduce the time by a couple of minutes if making mini muffins, or add a couple of minutes if making regular muffins.) Cool for a few minutes after removing from the oven, then turn out of the pan. Mix together a little melted butter and maple syrup, then brush it over the tops of the still-warm loaves.
Combine the softened butter and maple syrup. Stir until totally combined, then spread into a ramekin. Serve with the warm muffins. (Butter can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge.)