The ruminations of an artist on art & life...art quilts, beading, knitting, drawing, painting, printmaking, bookmaking are all my passions, I love to explore creating....

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Holiday Blog Meme & Fruitcake


The folks at the inspiring website SEW, MAMA, SEW ! are sponsoring a holiday blog meme about traditions and gift-giving.

Gifts

  • Do you have a favorite gift that you love to give?
One favorite gift I give every year is homemade fruitcake made with dried fruits.
  • If you’re making gifts this year, what are you making? (Post photos if you have some!
I am making almost all my gifts--but my family reads this blog, so not photos here until after Christmas! (check back in early January)
  • Name one thing on your personal wish list.
high on my list is : either YARN or a gift certificate to a yarn store
NEXT is : travel money ( or plane ticket) to visit my daughters
  • Do you make and sell things that would make fantastic gifts?
Yes--I make bead crochet jewelry and fiber art brooches--available at my Esty shop:
Borealis Beads.

Traditions

  • What is your favorite family holiday tradition?



Throwing a small Solstice "Return of the Light" celebration--with folk music, homemade cookies, fruitcake, eggnog, mulled wine and the lighting of my collection of over 40 white candles.
  • What do you love most about the holiday season?
Making gifts
  • What do you like least about the holiday season?
The commercialization of the holidays---which is why I make gifts each year--or only purchase handmade gifts---the only exception is when I purchase books as gifts or give a magazine subscription as a gift. This year I even made my holiday cards and gift tags.

  • What is your favorite holiday food?
Homemade holiday cookies, of course! I make many of my family recipes--I think those handed-down-through-the-family cookie recipes are the best! I will be posting great cookie recipes here all month--so do check back.
  • Do you have a great recipe to share?
Yes! Today I would like to share the homemade fruitcake recipe I have been making each year for over 30 years. Now, lest you turn up your nose and say "ew! I hate fruitcake!" I must tell you that this is no ordinary fruitcake! This is the fruitcake that avowed fruitcake haters love--- (once they can be persuaded to taste it)---so I call this recipe:

The Fruitcake Haters Holiday Fruitcake

Preheat oven to 300 degrees

1 big bottle brandy or rum
(one year I used very dark Jamaican rum --which my folks brought me from Jamaica---to soak the dried fruit in---and when we first tasted the cake we discovered --to our great disappointment!---the rum taste was so strong it was inedible. But when I told an elderly friend about this--she said--"Honey, you just but that fruitcake away until March and then try it." So we stuck the fruitcake in the back of the refrigerator for a few months and when we next tried it--that rum fruitcake was really delicious!)

About 7 -8 cups pitted, chopped, dried fruit
(I use a mixture of raisens, prunes, dates, dried cherries, dried pears, dried apples, dried peaches, dried apricots---all organic, natural and unsulphured if possible)
1/2-1 cup candied orange and lemon peels
(you can purchase these, but I make my own candied citrus fruit peels--recipe follows--these are great in other holiday goodies, also--so I make a big batch each year)
(Note: whatever you do --DO NOT use those commercial candied fruit mixes in the recipe--it ruins the recipe)
2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
2 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup honey (or molasses for a dark cake)
1/2 cup softened butter
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4-1/2 cup brandy or apple

cheesecloth

Chop all the dried fruit and citrus peels into about 1/2 chunks---sometimes it easiest to cut the dried fruit with kitchen scissors---and place the fruit in a big bowl. Pour the brandy over the fruit--enough to cover the fruit totally. Cover this with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 3-4 days---the fruit will soak up all the brandy.
(Note: if you don't cook with alcohol, you may use apple juice to soak the fruit in)

After the alloted time, thoroughly drain the fruit in a strainer--but save the juices. Stir together the dry ingredients, pressing out any lumps. Cream honey, butter, and eggs. Then stir in the dry ingredients. Fold in the soaked fruit and the nuts, adding enough of the liquid from soaking the fruit to make a pourable batter (not too runny though--like a cake batter). If you don't have much fruit soaking liquid--use apple juice or brandy. (Note: there will be less batter than fruit--but it will be ok)

Grease breads pans and line the bottom with greased parchment paper. Pour batter into pans--filling only halfway.

Bake at 3oo degrees for about 3 hours with a pan of hot water on the bottom shelf of the oven. The tops will be golden brown and cracked and a toothpick will come out clean when they are done. Cool for 20 minutes in the pans before carefully removing. After the cakes are completely cooled pour brandy over them, and wrap each cake in cheesecloth you have soaked with the brandy. Seal up in tinfoil and place in the refrigerator to age. This fruitcake improves with age, but also can be eaten right away.


Grandma Beth's Candied Orange & Lemon Peels

My grandmother taught me to make these--when I was a teen. (thanks Gram!)

Thinly slice the peels from 6 organic oranges and 4 organic lemons.
Place in saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil---immediately pour the water off. REPEAT this step 3 times. Drain the peels thoroughly in a strainer.

Make a simple syrup of equal parts sugar and water (here use about 1/ 1/2 cups sugar to 1 1/2 cups water)---make enough syrup to just cover the peels. Mix the sugar and water in heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil--once the sugar has dissolved add the peels. Cook on low heat for several hours until most of the syrup has been absorbed by the peels--do not get this to hot--you do not want the sugar to carmelize. Cover a few cookie sheets with wax paper--sprinkle sugar on the wax paper---remove the peels from the heat and carefully lay the hot peels out on the wax paper in a single layer to dry. Dry in the open air for about 2 days--then store airtight. Optional: roll the peels in sugar before drying.

These also make a great holiday candy ---just dip one end in melted chocolate chips and refrigerate until the chocolate is hard....ummm...

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Also---for you paper and collage artists out there---do check out this blog TEN TWO STUDIOS
As special treat for those who have supported her web sites she has created a countdown to Christmas that reveals a new surprise each day. Each day brings a new lovely FREE printable collage page of images...just in the month of December...

3 comments:

Mary Timme said...

Loved your answers. Our holidays were always pretty fluid but the holiday cookies were wherever we were.

lisavollrath said...

Thanks for the link!

Lil D said...

I have such a job getting Americans to try a christmas cake (a lovely moist fruit cake, topped with marzipan and royal icing - I make mine with sherry), as they are convinced that all fruit cakes are terrible... The jokes about regifting fruit cakes year after year don't help...