mimi

Today I have thought so much about Mimi. As I sat waiting for coffee to brew, I flipped through an edition of the Everyday Food magazine. Mimi gave me a subscription when I lived in Rocky Mount several years ago; then, after she died, Mom let me take all of Mimi’s old editions of Everyday Food home with me. I love the magazines from Mimi’s house. She’d used little post-it notes to mark the recipes she’d wanted to try. I’ve left them intact because it makes me feel like I have a bit of Mimi with me when I try the recipes I know she’d intended to make one day.

I remember in the last years before she died, one of my favorite things to do when I visited her in Charlotte was to climb up on her bed, get under her cozy flowered quilt, snuggle up close, and look through magazines to daydream about delicious meals we’d like to cook. We’d sit for hours and ogle over mouth-watering photographs of pork tenderloin roasted with apples and Vidalia onions, spinach and grape tomatoes sautéed in olive oil, buttermilk mashed potatoes, honey-glazed carrots, or homemade Parmesan cheese straws.

In between recipes, she’d ask me about life and work and family. She always thought I was being too hard on myself (which I know I am much of the time) and was always a little worried about me. She thought I deserved the absolute best and nothing less. She was proud of me, even when I felt like there was nothing to be proud of. She’d always interrogate me about any men in my life—she was determined that I was to be treated like a princess. When Pat came along, she was suspicious at first (as she was with every other man I dated), but grew to love him as she saw how happy he made me.  She would accept nothing less than the best for her granddaughter.

Mimi died in July 2010 and I miss her terribly. She loved me so well. She was undoubtedly one of my biggest fans and advocates. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned how hard it can be to advocate for yourself and I find myself desperately missing Mimi’s pleas with me to work just a little bit less, to visit my family more, and to eat more apple fritters (her favorite!). I miss trips to the beach with Mimi when we’d take long walks in the mornings to comb the beach for shells and go to the Pawleys Island Hammock Shops in the afternoon. I miss those delicious oatmeal raisin cookies she always had from the Harris Teeter on Park Road. I just miss her so much.

So, in honor of my Mimi and those days when we used to cuddle up in her bed to look through page after page of recipes, here’s a recipe she’d marked in an Everyday Food from November 2008. I’m not sure if she ever had a chance to make this, but this week, I’m going to make a loaf and remember my Mimi.

Fresh Cranberry Bread

Serves 8

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total time: 1 ½ hours plus time for cooling

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan

2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan

1 cup packed light-brown sugar

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 large egg, lightly beaten

¾ cup whole milk

1 bag (12 ounces) cranberries

1 tablespoon turbinado sugar, for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; butter and flour a 9-by-5 inch loaf plan and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, combine butter, egg, and milk. Add wet mixture to dry mixture, and whisk to combine; fold in cranberries.

Pour batter into prepared pan; sprinkle top with turbinado sugar, if desired. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let bread cool 30 minutes. Invert onto rack, then immediately turn right side up to let cool completely.

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