Hi Friends.

I’m sorry I’ve been too busy to blog much…but then again…maybe you’ve been too busy to read!  Tis’ the season, I suppose.  I hope your Christmas planning is coming along, and that you are trying to keep things somewhat simple this year.

But busy or not–today, as I was continuing on in our Christmas Gift Box preparations, I was so utterly delighted with what came out of my oven, I simply had to stop what I was doing and come tell you about it.

It’s called Irish Brown Bread.  Have you every tried it?  It’s delish.

But let’s back up and talk jam first…
This summer, I learned the art of canning; something I had wanted to do for a long, long time (my mother and grandmother are both big-time canners). 

This year, I canned peaches, tomatoes, homemade “rotel,” pickles, marinara sauce…

and JAMS…specifically strawberry-rhubarb, triple berry, spiced blueberry, and raspberry. 

Canning has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.  I felt like I tapped into something I was supposed to be doing all along, if that makes sense–to grow or pick your own produce, then labor to preserve and put it away for consumption later…it is just an awesome and rewarding experience. 

 Those who’ve done it know what I’m talking about. 

I love to open my cupboard everyday and pull out my OWN marinara sauce, or diced tomatoes–to open a new jar of jam that I worked hard to preserve. 

But I digress.

When I made jam, I was so thrilled that I actually did it (and it tasted amazing!), I immediately gave most of it away to family members and neighbors…I just HAD to share the love!

What was left, my kids and husband (ok, and me) gobbled up on English muffins, and in PB&J sandwiches.

Suddenly, mid fall, I was out of jam!  [nooooooo!] 

In desperation, I went ahead and bought some canned stuff from the store… 

It was terrible. 

We were all ruined by the homemade stuff, and we couldn’t go back.

So there I was, long after berry season was over, buying up raspberries and strawberries when they went on sale, and slowly making more homemade jam, batch by batch (jam needs to be made in small batches).
WhewFinally, I had refilled my cupboards…

Aaaand, here we are, at Christmas, getting ready to give it all away–AGAIN. 

{sigh}   Oh well, we can always make more.  Plus, tis’ so much better to give than receive!

And just look how perdy these guys are, all decorated for the holidays~

(I decorated these myself after printing the lovely tags from Jones Design Company for free!  Click the link and check it out–you’ll also find a super easy-peasy tutorial for raspberry freezer jam there.  As for my own strawberry and raspberry jams, I’ve mostly adapted recipes (read: reduced sugar amts) from THIS site).

This stuff is just too yummy not to share with those you love.

ESPECIALLY when it is served atop what I just pulled out of the oven… namely:

IRISH BROWN BREAD.

Oh my, this bread.
It’s just good. And its wholesome.

And if you’re intimidated by the idea of making bread, you don’t need to be with this one. 

This particular recipe does not call for yeast (though some brown breads do)–instead this one gets its rise from baking soda and baking powder while it bakes in the oven.  

Chezbeeperbebe’s recipe is what I followed, and what I’ll be giving away at Christmas in our gift boxes.
You can find the recipe on page 7 (and printable tags/labels on page 3) of her Breakfast in a Box tutorial.  Just scroll to the bottom of the post, click, “download breakfast in a box tutorial” and you’ll see it there.

I am packaging up several bags of this mix  to give away (each bag makes 2 small loaves, and all the recipient has to do is add 3 Tbsp of butter and 1 1/2 c. buttermilk).

Naturally, before giving it away, I had to try it myself first.

I was impressed, especially since it is a non-yeast bread.  And truly, it is so simple.  My 3 year old did all the pouring and mixing with me, and even helped with the kneading too.

A mere 35 minutes after we began, we pulled two beautiful, crusty loaves out of the oven.

They were just begging to be smothered in butter and homemade raspberry jam…or dipped into a hearty stew or soup…or eaten with a big chunk of good cheese…
But since we had all this jam on hand, we tried that first.

Mmm, SO, SO GOOD.

You simply must consider giving it a try. 

I bet you’ll impress yourself that you so easily made such a yummy “homemade bread” and your whole family will benefit from its healthfulness (it contains mostly whole wheat flour, wheat bran and rolled oats!).

Have any homemade jam sitting around your house?
Box it up with a bag of Irish Brown Bread mix and give it as a homemade gift for your loved ones to enjoy. 
….you know, after the sugar-saturated holidays when they need something wholesome and hearty (Of course, I am referring to the bread, not the jam). 
And if you haven’t any homemade jam, buy something of higher quality at your local grocery store, and try it with that.

 Now, if you’ll please excuse me, I think I’ll go help myself to another piece.  🙂