Pre-children, my husband and I lived in New Brunswick for a year, most of 1999. It was such a short blip of time that sometimes I almost forget that it happened. My husband is originally from Nova Scotia. He moved to Toronto in his late teens and lived with his sister and new husband before moving out on his own. We met when I moved literally around the corner from him and began running in the same circles. But that’s a story for another time.
He became quite the city boy quickly, enjoying the variety of food and entertainment that was now available to him. But after we were married, he missed his friends and family and simpler way of life that the maritimes offered. So off we went in January 1999 and drove with two of our friends (who didn’t know each other at the time but ended up getting married! how cool is that?!) who helped us move to a little town outside of Saint John.
It was a very different life than I was used to. I distinctly recall discussing with friends one evening whether we should go to a movie. I pointed out “we can’t leave now, it’s 4:30”, to which the question was put, “and why is that?”. Well you see, in Toronto, if you’re not in the working world, to avoid the horrendous traffic, you don’t leave you house during the house of 6:00-9:30 a.m. or 3:30-7 p.m. Leaving my house at that time and traveling any further than a 5 minute drive away was unheard of. They laughed and laughed, pushed me into the car, and off we went to the movies. We probably passed probably ten cars on the way into the city, rolled up to the movie theatre, and experienced no lineups.
Maybe I could get used to this.
This is when I also truly understood the expression ‘snowed in’. In Toronto, there are snow days, or days they ‘recommend’ you don’t drive, but in all reality, you can’t really stop city people from doing too much. But that winter, while we were hanging out at our friends house, it began to snow. And snow. And snow. It ended up snowing for two days, and since our friends lived off a main road, there was no hurry to clear the road. We stayed overnight and waited the next day for the town snow plows to dig us out. Remember everyone, this was back before the internet was a part of our daily lives, where it was on everyone’s phones, where you could spend hours on Pinterest laughing at kitten and cute babies laughing videos. So what did we do? Play games and eat.
During this blizzard, I was rummaging through a cookbook and came across this recipe. I have no idea where it came from, but it seemed simple enough to me and once again, the kind of ingredients I usually have on hand (yes, we usually have beer in the fridge, don’t judge me). I mean, bread from one bowl? no yeast? dump a bottle of beer and shredded cheese and voila? My kind of recipe. I proceeded to copy it out by hand, and later, typed it up to add to my photo album recipe books. It’s not in great shape so I’m glad I have a new place to record it so it’s never lost.
When I made it for the first time I was astonished how easy it was and even better, how dense and delicious. It was the perfect chunk of bread to eat along with any soup or stew that you were enjoying to survive the blizzard. It’s also great the next day toasted and buttered. While the jalapeno is completely optional, and I can’t say that I went searching for jalapenos back then in a small town, now that we live here, I can’t make this bread without. Plus, it adds that adorable touch of green.
And the smell as it comes out of the oven isn’t too shabby either.
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 Tab sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
- 1 1/2 cups beer (about 1 bottle)
- 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 Tab fresh jalapeno pepper, chopped and seeded (optional)
Preheat oven to 375. Grease loaf pan with butter or spray. In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, oregano, baking soda, salt, and basil. Add the beer, cheese, and if desired, jalapeno pepper. Stir until just combined, batter should be lumpy. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake in oven until 35-40 minutes or until golden. Cool in pan on wire rack for ten minutes. Remove from pan, cool completely on rack.
Makes one loaf.