My grandmother made fabulous orange bread. Whenever we visited her, she usually took a loaf from the freezer to thaw, and we'd toast it for breakfast and add lots of butter. It was always a great treat to have a homemade slice of her bread.
Sometime after I graduated from college, I called and asked her for the recipe. We were having a potluck breakfast at work for Christmas the next month, and I thought it would be good to bring her bread to share with everyone. I carefully wrote down all the steps on two cards. Step one was for the candied orange peel that got chopped up and mixed into the bread dough. Step two was making the bread dough.
The next month, I had my plan. I would plow through step one after work, and then handle step two early in the morning before going to work, so the loaf would still be warm as it was served to my co-workers. That night, before I went to bed, I carefully saved the sugared peel in a ziploc on the counter. The next morning, I got out my recipe card for the bread dough, and noticed one of the ingredients was a cup of the sugar water that cooked the orange peel. I got a sinking feeling in my stomach. I had poured that sugar water & candied orange peel into a colander the night before, so all of that water went down the drain. I said a few choice words before shoving the recipe cards back in the box and heading for the shower. I stopped on the way to work and bought a big coffee cake from the grocery store. A few days later, my grandmother called me to find out how it went and we both had a good laugh over what a gigantic idiot I was.
A few years later, I dug the recipe cards out to make it and SCREWED UP AGAIN. People, it's like I totally forgot what happened the first time, and I went to strain the water from the orange peel and dumped it all into the colander and then sucked in my breath like one of those horror films as I watched the water go down the drain. I hung my head and took the colander over to the trash can and dumped the peel in the garbage. I mean, I just cannot be trusted to get this right. TWICE.
So at this point, this recipe is like my Waterloo. I love the memories of eating it, and I love thought that I *could* make it, since I have it in my recipe box. It seems like it should be easy enough, and yet TWICE I couldn't get it done. Which for me is like a giant mental stumbling block to ever trying to make it again.
So while I was on maternity leave, I decided to get past it. Dang it, I wanted some orange bread! This time I took out both recipe cards, and gave myself a stern lecture before I even put a pot of water on the stove. "Jennie," I said out loud, "you cannot mess this up. Your grandmother worked hard to give you orange bread on each visit. She trusted you with the recipe, and she is counting on you to get it right. You have tossed out that water twice now. Can you remember to save it this time? CAN YOU FINISH THE DAMN RECIPE ALREADY?"
And this time, I made the orange bread. And it was awesome. Oh, how I loved it. I made two more loaves while we were at my parents' house, and I shared them with my sister and mother, and I fed it to my girls. It's good stuff, people. But more than that, I'm finally past that obstacle. There's a lot of things that mentally hold us back from getting things done, and I finally charged right over one of them. Hoo-rah.
I know Grandma is up there somewhere smiling and totally thrilled that I got through it for once, but I just wish I could call her to tell her how good it was.