The Christmas Fruitcake: History and a Recipe

Pixabay
The history of fruitcake dates back to the ancient Egyptians. It is theorized that the cakes were placed on the tombs of loved ones, probably for the afterlife. Fruitcake became quite common during Roman times when pomegranate seeds, pinenuts and barley mash were mixed together to form a ring-shaped dessert. The shelf life of the cake was appealing to the Roman soldiers because they could take the cakes with them to the battlefields.So the fruitcake has been around for centuries.

 

Fruitcake is a delicious sweet treat that has been a southern U.S. Christmas holiday tradition for many years. The Claxton Bakery (company) located in Claxton, Georgia has been making their version for more than 100 years. The U.S. Army contracted the company to bake the cake for the military when the bakery first opened and they are still making the cakes available.

Kay At the Keyboard – has a wonderful post about fruitcake and the post also includes Eudora Welty’s recipe. There are as many fruitcake recipes as there are lovers of the confection. The more common ones are Japanese, white, icebox, light and my favorite is the dark. Traditionally you bake them and soak the cake in bourbon, sherry some other achohol about 4 weeks before the first cutting.  To get you started on baking your own fruitcake. Here is a very simple recipe to follow. Bake it now and in about 4 weeks you will have a crowd pleaser! Let me know how it turned out all you fruitcake lovers.

Fruitcake Recipe (from Martha Stewart’s Collection)

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for pan

4 ounces glaceed or dried apricot, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (1/2 cup)

4 ounces glaceed or dried pineapple, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (1/2 cup)

8 ounces dates, pitted, chopped (1 1/2 cups)

4 ounces dried cherries (1/2 cup)

4 ounces chopped pecans (3/4 cup)

8 ounces Brazil nuts (1 1/2 cup)

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cake flour, (not self-rising)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

1 cup light-brown sugar, firmly packed

3 eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons rum, plus more for dousing

DIRECTIONS

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Brush 8-inch spring form pan with soft butter. Line bottom and sides with parchment; brush with butter.

Combine fruit and nuts in a bowl; set aside. Sift the flours, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed; add eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add vanilla and rum.

In two additions, add dry ingredients to butter. Scrape down bowl between additions. Fold in fruit and nuts. Pour batter into pan. Bake until golden and set, about 2 1/2 hours. Cover with foil if it colors too much.

Cool on a wire rack. Remove from pan; discard parchment. Wrap in cheesecloth or muslin. Douse with 1/2 cup rum. Store in a cool, dry place; douse with 1/2 cup rum weekly for at least 1 month before serving.

 

 

Thanksgiving Remembered

thanksgiving-482977_1280In just a few short hours my husband and I will load up the Patmobile and drive miles away from home to join family members for Thanksgiving dinner. On this day we will feast on thoughtfully prepared food made from heirloom recipes or newly found one pulled from Martha Stewart, Pinterest or one of own family’s heirloom wonders. No matter whose recipe we follow in preparing the great feast, no doubt Thanksgiving 2015 will make an indelible impression in someone’s memory bank. As I prepare to join my family, I can’t help but remember how my family celebrated Thanksgiving when I was going up in South Georgia.

My mother died during the month of November, when I was 2 years of age, so my recollection of Thanksgiving pivots every year to a single event that happened (fairly routinely) on Thanksgiving day. Various families in my countryside community gathered at the cemetery plots of their love ones. This was a big but somber tradition. The way the day evolved began shortly after breakfast when the family piled cleaning tools in the trunk of my daddy’s Ford sedan or the family’s farming truck, and then head off to join other families in pulling weeds, sweeping off grave markers or stones covering a grave site. In a year’s time, leaves, grass and other sorted debris settled in the cemetery and would inevitably come to rest on the family member’s gravesite.

Not everyone celebrates Thanksgiving with the traditional turkey, dressing and all the other wonderful trimmings. It is true that you may hear crystal glasses clinking in the distance but not necessarily to celebrate the joy, love and peace of family and friends. For all we know the pinging sound could be the last drop of a libation used to ease the pain of sorrow or to celebrate the hope of a better tomorrow.

What are we really celebrating at Thanksgiving? Traditionally it was about the harvest season for farmers. They had spent the warmer months planting, gathering and preserving food that would carry them through the upcoming cold winter days and for that they set aside a day of prayer and thanksgiving. They shifted into a mode of thanking God for another year of harvest.

I think as a nation and as a culture we have evolved so much in our choice of worship, belief systems and just as notable we have shifted from an agricultural society to that of technology. Consequently,  the question bears us to ask … have we forget our inherent  celebration of an ample wheat crop harvested for bread, the harvesting of cotton for wear and countless other uses,  the harvest of tobacco for riches and pleasure, the harvest of fruits and vegetables for sustenance?

Since we have shifted away from the original purpose and meaning of Thanksgiving, perhaps there is an opportunity here to teach the meaning of Thanksgiving to new newcomers to this County or to those who have forgotten or just simply never knew the true reason. The other option is to enjoy the freedoms we have and just allow the reason to celebrate Thanksgiving to continue to drift away from its original meaning. After all, Christmas starts the day after Thanksgiving, right?

Thanks for taking the time out of your busy Thanksgiving schedule to read my post.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Writers, Readers and Hooks

Fish Hook Pixabay
Fish Hook Pixabay

Books, books and more books. They are everywhere: in the bookstore in your local public library, in your home library, on-line and of late, cute little bird house models are a popular in many neighborhoods!

I want to read a good book, you say.” So you look at the genre, the book cover, the title and a few other things that are specific to you.  Then you open the book and begin to read the first few lines. You are more than likely hooked and want to read more or are you?  As a writer, your reader is more than likely going to give your book only a few minutes to draw them in and read from the beginning to the end of the story.

One of the ways to get a reader hooked is the opening few lines. Actually the opening line is your best shot.  I read a short piece one of my new favorite blogs and I was immediately hooked.  I was ready sit for a spell and continue reading author Sherry Sylver’s blog post. The first few words drew me in. Read Sherry’s post and then let me know you think about Sherry’s hook. I am anxious to also hear your experience in writing a great hook or may you don’t focus a lot on the hook

Writing Prompts: Using Old Media Clips

Writing ideas are all around you but you have to seize the moments and write what you feel, see or hear at the point of inspiration. One problem that you might encounter is that you may find it difficult to narrow down and hone in on a specific topic. Objects, people, places, events and personal interest all lend themselves to a great short story, poem or novel. Try this one: look at a not so familiar movie or an old video clip and let your mind wander and allow your fingers to float across the keyboard and amaze yourself as you begin to create a new work of art.

Here is a clip to get you started. Clip Title: Rhythm and Blues Revival from the Internet Archives. Have fun! https://www-muehlen.archive.org/details/rhythm_blues_review

 

Why I Blog – Patricia Fuqua Lovett

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Million-Dollar Question.” Blogging allows me to journal out loud! I am currently writing a period piece (which I never expected to do).  So I am using blogging (1) to increase my fiction writing skills and (2) to interact with people who provide an important measure of feedback, comments and encouragement.  Also, with blogging I am learning a new craft and I want to share my love of creative writing with those who may want to publish or who just want to feel good about whatever amount of writing they are doing.  So in summary I blog to build my creative writing skills and to serve as a resource for other writers.

Writing Prompts

white-pen

There you are again seated in a comfortable chair but you are just staring at a blank piece of paper or continuously watching the blinking cursor on your screen. How many attempts have you made in the past few days to move words from your head onto a simple piece of paper.  Go ahead, don’t be afraid to tackle a new writing project. Perhaps all you need are a few writing prompts to get you started. Using your favorite notebook, a pen, pencil or keyboard give it a try.

Select from one of the topics listed below (or create your own) and write as quickly as you can. Don’t go back and correct and don’t worry about punctuation–just continue writing.  Time yourself for 15 minutes of writing then go back and review what you have written. Set aside time everyday to write and you will begin to see improvements in your writing skill level, commitment to your craft and you will also begin to allow the writing muse to flow with more ease and less effort.

Suggested Writing Prompts:

1. Your best date ever

2. The best meal you ever prepared and ate alone

3.  Your best day at work or at school

4. The first time you met a famous person

5. Your best volunteer effort

Now that wasn’t so bad was it?  You probably had a few laughs, a lot of fun but most of all you wrote for a solid 15 minutes.  Don’t focus on the quality of your writing, content or word count.  Your goal is to spent time each day doing some free flow writing.

Share some of your writing hangups and what have you done to overcome the problems or share a few of your personal writing prompts.  L

Saving Thanksgiving

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The day after Thanksgiving usually marks the beginning of the Christmas season (Black Friday).  Yet when I went into the local department store, after Halloween, I saw Christmas goodies all over… everywhere!  Christmas trees, stockings, santa and elves were displayed everywhere. Where did Thanksgiving go, I wondered.

Off I went to the household goods section of the store in pursuit of a white, traditional platter to put my traditional Thanksgiving turkey on at the traditional family dinner.  You know – the one that is oval shaped, pilgrims and pumpkins in the middle and nuts and other outdoor scenes encircling the rim.  I looked through all the brand name and store brand collections and to my dismay I found plenty of Santa and Christmas tree shaped platters but not a single one with my much sought after Thanksgiving motif.  Not to be be out done, I asked the nice, friendly assistant if I had, perhaps, overlooked the Thanksgiving platters.  “Oh!  Let me check.  I think I saw one on the discount table on yesterday.  We usually put a few of those out after Labor Day and what doesn’t sell by Veterans Day, we put them away for the next year.”

By now, not only am I disappointed, I am seriously concerned that we have merged Thanksgiving with Christmas and (you guessed it) Christmas won the battle of the market share race.

Lesson learned:  next year, shop early for my Thanksgiving wares and maybe, just maybe, I can save Thanksgiving.

 

Writing Goals 2014

Goal setting is one of the tasks we typically do at the beginning of a new year.  We may not know all the words to Auld Lang Syne but shortly after ringing in the new year, we get busy writing down our new year’s resolutions.  In 2014, did you resolve to write more or to just simply begin writing?

With excitement and a new resolve I set about establishing the following writing goals for 2014:  (1) amp up the frequency of my writing to the tune of writing at least 500 words a day (2) finish some of my short stories and publish them as an anthology (3) take a few writing classes (4) develop a blog for writers (5) read more books and printed materials (6) interact with other writers and (7) get published!  Do any of my goals sound like some of the ones you had on your 2014 list?

As we approach the end of 2014 and begin to focus on 2015, I will share my 2014 scorecard and, of course, begin to focus on writing goals for 2015.

What were your 2014 writing goals?  Take the time to review how far along you are on your 2014 writing goal timeline.  Share your scorecard fellow writers!