We just celebrated our twenty year anniversary. This soft but sturdy loaf of apricot and chocolate chip delightfulness was made to start our day as a sweet toast to our marriage. It’s a perfect summery change from banana bread and does not knock you out with sweetness.
Who knows how time can fly so fast during the best of times and yet when life has you by the neck, it seems to crawl? When looking at my sixteen-year-old son and thirteen-year-old daughter, I can’t quite believe our life has led us here…with almost grown children, a house, dog number three, a few surgeries and a handful of sorrows behind us.
Today is a reminder to me that love and perseverance does win out. Life ain’t always easy and marriages, even wonderful ones, take a lot of work, but if you have two people willing to work towards a common goal of a loving, intact family, then that is huge and will get you far.
People ask me, what’s the secret? Although there’s no one secret or magic trick besides the obvious start of marrying someone you wholeheartedly love, I believe that some of the glue that has held us together is having elasticity in our expectations. As partners, we are not carbon copies of each other and most likely we chose our partner because their differences were interesting and complimented us so it’s only logical we don’t always see things the same way, rarely do things the way the other expected and sometimes just exasperate each other.
But I think if we remember to be flexible and accept different versions than our ideal version in our imaginations, that can only help in our relationships with both our spouse and our children. It’s taken me a long time to come to this place of trying to let everyone be themselves and not control the world. Us Type-A’s really are happiest when everyone is doing exactly what we think they should, but how boring would that be?! As nice as it sounds to be able to orchestrate everyone and everything, it would get old fast I think.
So today, as I am celebrating and appreciating the twenty years I have been lucky enough to share with my amazing husband, I try to remind myself to use these kernels of understanding that I have learned along the way so perhaps the next twenty years can be just as happy but perhaps with a little less of a learning curve involved.
This recipe is from one of my favorite bread books, Secrets of a Jewish Baker, and is a delightful quickbread that is easy to make, bright in flavor and soft in texture. I added the chocolate chips because we chocoholics seem to do that to just about everything! Hope you enjoy this as much as we did.
Apricot Nut Loaf (mine was actually apricot chocolate chip loaf)
Taken directly from Secrets of a Jewish Baker by George Greenstein
1 c. boiling water
1 c. coarsely chopped dried apricots
1 c. plus 2 T. sugar
2 T. melted butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 c. whole wheat flour, preferably stone ground
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
3/4 t. salt
2 T. orange liqueur (Or I did 1 T. orange liqueur and 1/4 t. orange extract)
3/4 c. milk (I used 2%)
1 c. chopped walnuts, preferably toasted, plus more for topping
optional: 1/2 c. chocolate chips
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray an 8 or 9 inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Pour the boiling water over the chopped apricots in a smallish mixing bowl and let sit for 15 minutes. While the apricots are sitting, whisk together your dry ingredients which includes the flours, 1 c. of the sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Drain your apricots and put them back in the small mixing bowl and add the 2 T. sugar, melted butter and eggs. Stir together. In a liquid measuring cup, combine the liqueur, milk and extract. Add 1/3 of the apricot mixture to the dry ingredients and then 1/3 the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and stir gently with a rubber scraper. Repeat until all of the ingredients are mixed in. Fold in the nuts and chocolate chips.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Top with additional 2 T. walnuts. Bake until browned and the center feels firm when gently pressed with your fingertips (45-60 minutes). Let cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely or eat a slice warm from the oven like my family did. It’s especially good served along side some scrambled eggs and fresh fruit with a hot cup of coffee.