Cranberry Vanilla Kefir Quick Bread

November 23: National Eat a Cranberry Day

Highlander enjoys eating cranberries when they are in season. The tart berries are featured in many fall, winter and holiday dishes. If the fresh fruit is not available, he will try to find frozen or dried cranberries to use in some recipes, especially in scones and salads. He used dried cranberries for a quick bread this time because there was leftover kefir in the refrigerator. The tart cranberries and sour kefir combination baked up into a slightly sweet and soft bread. Similar to a tea loaf or cake, we especially like the crusty crunchy top of this cranberry bread. Make a cranberry vanilla kefir quick bread and eat it during tea or snack time and on National Eat a Cranberry Day!


(Adapted from Lifeway)


  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup kefir, plain
  • 1 cup cranberries, dried unsweetened


In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the wet ingredients: egg, melted coconut oil, vanilla extract and kefir.

Toss the cranberries into the flour mixture. Pour in the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix gently until a shaggy and sticky dough comes together. Place the dough in a greased loaf pan (9×5 inches).

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 45-50 minutes, testing for doneness with a toothpick. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Slice and serve.


  • Search our blog for other cranberry recipes.


(Puerto Rican Slow-Roasted Pork)

November 19: Discovery of Puerto Rico Day

It is interesting that islanders from the Atlantic Ocean came over to live on another island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Puerto Ricans are a small but significant immigrant community in Hawaii. They first came over in the beginning of the 20th century to work in Hawaii’s sugar plantations after their island’s crops were destroyed by two hurricanes. Because of the similarities of tropical living and their experience in the sugar industry, Puerto Ricans were an asset to Hawaii. They shared their culture, music and, of course, food (like pasteles wrapped in banana leaves and arroz con gandules/rice and beans) and integrated with other immigrants and locals.

Another similarity is the tender roasted pork shoulder—kalua puaa in Hawaii and pernil in Puerto Rico. Both are cooked slow and on low heat. Although crockpot kalua pig is simpler with its ingredient list, for a change Islander sometimes admits that she likes the addition of a little Latin flavor in Puerto Rican pernil.

In honor of the Boricuas in Hawaii, we spiced up our kalua puaa recipe and prepared pernil. Discover this delicious dish from Puerto Rico and roast some pork on the Discovery of Puerto Rico Day.



  • 4-5 pounds pork butt/shoulder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 3 teaspoons salt (plus more to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lime, juiced (plus 1 more lime sliced as optional garnish)
  • 6-7 garlic cloves, minced


Wash the pork and pat dry with paper towels. Use a knife to cut slits throughout the meat so the marinade can penetrate beyond the surface. Make the marinade. In a small bowl, mix together the pepper, oregano, salt, vinegar, olive oil, lime juice and minced garlic.

Rub the marinade paste all over the pork. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

In a slow cooker, place the pork and the marinade in the pot. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-6 hours. Place pork without its juices into a large bowl. Cut and shred with fork. Add a few spoonfuls of the juice over the shredded pork. Season with additional salt to taste. Garnish with lime slices and cilantro (optional). Serve hot with rice and beans, or as a filling in tortillas, and a side of fried plantains.


  • Puerto Rico was discovered and claimed for Spain by the Italian Christopher Columbus on November 16, 1493. He landed on the island once called San Juan Bautista (St. John the Baptist). The Discovery of Puerto Rico Day is a national holiday and there is a parade to celebrate this date.
  • Hawaii-born pop singer Bruno Mars is part-Puerto Rican/Pinoy!

Tomato Basil Bread

November 17: National Homemade Bread Day

We were saddened that, after 23 years, our bread machine—one of the first purchases we made with our wedding gift money—died. It served us well, although some years we baked more bread than in other years. It was a nostalgic newlywed toy.

For an early 24th anniversary gift this year, we bought a new bread machine. We hope it lasts a long time, too. At first, we goofed on some of the recipes. But we have tweaked a few things and have gotten better results with our loaves. We still use the same old recipe book that we bought along with our first bread machine, making adjustments for the new one. It is easy to just layer the ingredients in the well and let the machine take care of the rest—from kneading to rising to baking. It sounds like we are lazy to bake bread from scratch in the traditional way. But we save time doing the manual work in favor of spending time with each other!

Below is a tomato basil bread that we made in our new bread machine. This was a good excuse to try it for National Homemade Bread Day.


(Adapted from More Electric Bread)

Ingredients (for a large loaf)

  • 1 ¼ cup water
  • 3 cups white bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons powdered milk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
  • 3 teaspoons active dry yeast (or 2 teaspoons fast rise yeast)


In the well of the bread machine loaf pan, place the water, flour, milk and sugar.

Add the salt, olive oil, tomato paste, Italian seasoning and garlic.

Make a little well in the middle and add the yeast. Place the pan in the bread machine. Set it for large size loaf and medium crust setting. Press start and allow the machine to knead, rise and bake the bread.

When the cycle is done, carefully remove the hot well from the machine. Take the bread out of the well. Allow to cool on a wire rack. Slice and serve fresh or toasted with butter.


  • Although the title of this bread is tomato basil, there are no fresh tomatoes and basil in this recipe. The flavoring comes from tomato paste and Italian seasoning, which includes the dried herb basil.
  • Search our blog for more homemade bread recipes—traditional method or bread machine.