Monthly Archives: December 2009

Oatmeal Walnut Cranberry Cookies

It came today in an umarked brown carboard box.  I knew it was coming, but I was expecting it sometime after the New Year.  Today, of all days.  Today, when I’m snacking on the delectable leftovers of last night’s cake and cookie extravaganza and trying to decide whether to make Buttermilk pie or Derby pie for our New Year’s Eve dinner.  (Both, was the final decision).  I wasn’t going to open it.  I set it aside, trying to forget about it.  But it taunted me in its plain brown wrapper.   I gave in and ripped it open.  There he was, Jorge Cruise, smiling broadly and somewhat patronizingly at me with his toned arms reaching into the pocket of his skinny jeans.  Skinny jeans, ah yes, that’s why I ordered his latest book, “The Belly Fat Cure”.

So, gentle reader, in the new year ahead you may find me lightening up a bit, tweaking these sugar-laden comfort food recipes.  I’ll let you know.  But for now, it’s still 2009, and my sweet tooth is screaming full speed ahead!

I’m giving you a recipe for the all time greatest Oatmeal Walnut cookie, to which I’ve added dried cranberries.  This cookie is crispy on the outer edges and soft and chewy inside, the way a good oatmeal cookie should be.  Enjoy!  There’s plenty of time for diet resolutions later!

Oatmeal Walnut Cookies with Cranberries
Serves/Makes: 2 dozen   

Ingredients:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter — softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup regular oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup toasted walnuts – chopped (To toast, place in 350 oven for 10 minutes)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F.

Place first five ingredients in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup, level with a knife. Add flour, oats, and salt to egg mixture; beat well. Stir in cranberries and walnuts.

Drop by level tablespoons, 1 1/2 inches apart on to baking sheet coated with a cooking spray. Bake at 350 F for 16 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven, let stand for 2 minutes. Remove cookies from baking sheet, cool on wire rack.

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Texas Buttered Rum Cake

Rum Cake

 I like to call this rum cake “The Little Drummer Boy” cake . . . pa RUM pa pum pum!  I made this one today for a progressive dinner that we’re having tonight with neighbors.  My house is the dessert stop.  A progressive dinner is a fun way to have a “tween the holidays” get together with neighbors.  Each house provides one of the courses . . . it could be appetizers at the first house, then everyone goes to the second house for the main course, and the third for dessert.

This cake is a classic among the start-from-a-cake mix recipes.   I added a few tweaks to give it a bit of Texas flair.

 

 

TEXAS BUTTERED RUM CAKE

1 box butter recipe yellow cake mix

1 box vanilla instant pudding mix

3/4 cup water

1/3 cup plain, unsweetened yogurt  (I use the thick Greek kind)

¼ cup butter, softened

¼ cup dark rum

1 tablespoon Paula’s Texas Orange liqueur

4 eggs

¼ cup Texas Pecans, chopped

Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Grease and flour, or spray with baking spray with flour, 12-cup fluted tube (bundt cake) pan or 10×4-inch angel food (tube cake) pan. Sprinkle chopped pecans into the bottom (which will become the top when inverted) of the pan. In large bowl, beat dry cake mix, dry pudding mix, water, yogurt, butter, 1/4 cup rum, the orange liqueur and eggs with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes. Spread in pan.

Bake 40 to 45 minutes (48 to 52 minutes for dark or nonstick pan) or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan. Cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.

For glaze:

1 ½ cup confectioner’s (powdered) sugar

Splash of Paula’s Texas Orange Liqueuer

¼ cup rum

Whisk together to form glaze.  Drizzle over cake, allowing some to run down sides.  Let cool for 30 minutes.  Serve with fresh whipped cream.

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Sweetie Pie, I Yam What I Yam

Q:  What thing is completely unrelated to the other thing, yet I have never been able to tell them apart?

A:  Yams and Sweet Potatoes

I have an old recipe for a Yam pie.  In the grocery store, I found orange potatoes labeled sweet potatoes and orange potatoes labeled yams.  They all look the same to me.  What to do?  I consulted the ultimate authority, The Library of Congress, to discover that yams and sweet potatoes have nothing to do with each other, and you essentially won’t find anything that resembles an official yam on your grocer’s shelf.

Yams
Yams are closely related to lilies and grasses. Native to Africa and Asia, yams vary in size from that of a small potato to a record 130 pounds (as of 1999). There are over 600 varieties of yams and 95% of these crops are grown in Africa. Compared to sweet potatoes, yams are starchier and drier.

Sweet Potatoes
The many varieties of sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are members of the morning glory family, Convolvulacea. The skin color can range from white to yellow, red, purple or brown. The flesh also ranges in color from white to yellow, orange, or orange-red. Sweet potato varieties are classified as either ‘firm’ or ‘soft’. When cooked, those in the ‘firm’ category remain firm, while ‘soft’ varieties become soft and moist. It is the ‘soft’ varieties that are often labeled as yams in the United States.

Why the confusion?
In the United States, firm varieties of sweet potatoes were produced before soft varieties. When soft varieties were first grown commercially, there was a need to differentiate between the two. African slaves had already been calling the ‘soft’ sweet potatoes ‘yams’ because they resembled the yams in Africa. Thus, ‘soft’ sweet potatoes were referred to as ‘yams’ to distinguish them from the ‘firm’ varieties.

Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires labels with the term ‘yam’ to be accompanied by the term ‘sweet potato.’ Unless you specifically search for yams, which are usually found in an international market, you are probably eating sweet potatoes!

Sweet Potato pie is a southern classic.  For this tasty version of a Yam Pie, use sweet potatoes or yams!

Yam Pie

 

  • 1 piecrust
  • 2 medium size yams (or sweet potatoes) boiled in their skins until fork tender. (about 20 minutes)
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt

 

1.  Using your favorite piecrust, roll out and fit into a 9-inch pie pan.  Set aside.

2.  Peel yams.  (This is easy if you immerse the yams in cold water right after boiling.  The skins will slip right off.)  Mash yams with softened butter until smooth and creamy.  Mix in sugar and milk, add egg and beat briefly with a fork to blend.  Stir in vanilla, nutmeg and salt.  Pour into pie shell.

3.  Bake on center rack in a 400 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, until pastry is nicely browned and filling seems set around the edges.  Cool to room temperature before cutting.

 Yam Pie

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Working on Christmas? Ask Santa for a Crock Pot!

Cranberry Pork RoastWorking on Christmas, but still want to come home to a festive dinner?  Slow-cooker to the rescue!  Your crock pot works hard, so you don’t have to.  A pork roast is ideal in the crock pot and will be moist and flavorful. 

This is the recipe I am using for Christmas Eve.  I like to go to Christmas Eve church services, and I don’t want to rush home to take something out of the oven.  The slow-cooker gives you lots of timing flexibility.

 Cranberry Pork Roast (Slow Cooker)

  • Boneless Pork Loin Roast  (Approximately 2 lbs, can be more or less)
  • 1 package onion soup mix
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup red wine
  • ¼ cup pomegranate or cranberry juice (If you don’t have this just add more wine)
  • 3 Tablespoons soy sauce (I use the low sodium kind)
  • 3 Tablespoons minced garlic  (Optional or more/less depending on your taste)
  • ¾ cup dried cranberries
  • Pinch of black pepper

 

Place pork roast in slow cooker.  Add in all ingredients except garlic.  Turn roast to coat.  Cover top of roast with minced garlic and pinch of black pepper. (You may want to omit this step if you’re going in later to work the night shift!)  Cook on low for 8 hours.  Serve with au jus.  (You can also make a more intense sauce by reducing the juices left in the slow cooker after cooking.  To do this, place the juices in a saucepan, add another splash of wine, and cook over medium-high heat until juices have reduced by half.  Finish by swirling in a Tablespoon of butter.)   You will notice in the picture that I have also added some quartered red potatoes and baby carrots!

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What the Dickens: How to smoke a bishop

Christmas is a time for caroling and traditional holiday classics like A Christmas Carol.  Having always been somewhat food obsessed, my curiosity has always been piqued by the unique food and drink that I sing about and read about, but have no earthly idea what these concoctions actually are.  Figgy pudding, anyone?  (I don’t know what it is, but I know that we won’t go until we get some.  Still waiting).

“Here we come a-wassailing, among the leaves so green”.   And here I go a-wondering, just what does wassail mean?  Turns out it’s a hot and spicy fruit punch, which can be punched up a bit more with the addition of alcohol.

But perhaps the most curious of all has been the mystery of a “bowl of Christmas smoking bishop”. 

At the very end of the beloved Charles Dickens holiday classic A Christmas Carol, a reformed Ebenezer Scrooge and his long-suffering employee Bob Cratchit share an oddly named libation:

“A Merry Christmas, Bob!” said Scrooge with an earnestness that could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the back. “A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you for many a year! I’ll raise your salary, and endeavor to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon over a bowl of Smoking Bishop, Bob!”

As it turns out, Smoking Bishop is an alcoholic libation.  This clarification comes from a descendant of Charles Dickens, who conveniently wrote a book called Drinking With Dickens, thus solving the mystery.  Following are two recipes, the original and the Americanized version. 

Here’s Dickens’ “Smoking Bishop” recipe:

• Take six Seville oranges and bake them in a moderate oven until pale brown. If you cannot procure any bitter Seville oranges, use four regular oranges and one large grapefruit.

• Prick each of the oranges with five whole cloves, put them into a warmed ceramic or glass vessel with one-quarter pound of sugar and a bottle of red wine, cover the vessel, and leave it in a warm place for 24 hours.

• Take the oranges out of the mixture, cut in half and squeeze the juice, then pour the juice back into the wine.

• Pour the mixture into a saucepan through a sieve, add a bottle of port, heat (without boiling), and serve in warmed glasses.

• Drink the mixture, and keep Christmas well!

Recipe for “A Smoking Bishop”
Taken from “Drinking With Dickens”, published in the US by New Amersterdam Books, NY’Port was the base for a number of drinks: “we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop.” Bishop seems to have been a very popular drink, and no wonder. I discovered it many years ago and it quickly became a traditional winter party drink. Not only is its taste exquisite, but equally its medicinal qualities are great. You can feel it doing good. Temperatures go up, from the top of the head (bald heads turn red) right down to the toes.’

Ingredients
For an American version

  5 sweet oranges

  1 old fashioned grapefruit

  1/4 lb sugar to taste

  2 bottles cheap strong red wine

  1 bottle ruby port

  cloves

How It’s Done
Bake the oranges and grapefruit in the oven until they are pale brown and then put them into a warmed earthenware bowl with five cloves pricked into each. Add the sugar and pour in the wine – not the port. Cover and leave in a warm place for about a day. Squeeze the oranges and grapefruit into the wine and pour it through a sieve. Add the port and heat, but do not boil. Serve in warmed goblets and drink hot.

 And so, as Tiny Tim said, “A Merry Christmas to us all; God bless us, every one!””

 

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Baby Sam’s baptism, Dr. Raymond’s baptism by fire

Working on a neonatal intensive care unit taught me to rely on instincts; not so much my own, but in particular the instincts of a mother who has recently given birth to a baby.  For all the downside of post-partum hormonal fluctuations, I have observed that this particular hormonal state seems to be nature’s way of facilitating the instinctive, almost psychic nature of new mothers to know what is best for, and sometimes when something is wrong with, their babies.

It was a sunny summer evening when I arrived for my 12-hour night shift in the NICU of a large metropolitan hospital.  I checked the break room to make sure a fresh pot of coffee was brewing, scanned the bulletin board for updates, and noted with dismay that the neonatal fellow on call was one of my least favorite doctors. Dr. Raymond was a large, lumbering man who I referred to (behind his back) as Surly Burly.  Neonatal nurses, perhaps more than any other specialty, run their units with an iron fist in a velvet glove and prefer their neonatologists to be; 1. compassionate , 2. smart and competent,  3. collegial and collaborative with the nursing staff.  Ray had none of the aforementioned attributes.  His monosyllabic conversational style and massive hands made him appear to be more well-suited to being an Orthopod rather than threading tiny arterial lines into 500 gram human beings.  Worst of all, we knew that if we had to wake him up from the call room, he would stumble into the unit cranky and disoriented and it would take him 15 minutes to wake up enough to be of any use to anyone. He spent as little time on the unit as possible, interacting only when absolutely necessary with staff and patients. We all wondered why he had chosen a neonatal fellowship, he certainly didn’t appear to enjoy the specialty or even show a keen interest in it.

At 7:00 pm I began my routine tasks of drawing up normal saline to use for ET tube suctioning and heparin to use for IV flushes, checking TPN and lipids to be hung on shift, reviewing new orders.  After report with the outgoing RN it appeared that it would be a routine night.  I was assigned to two stable vent patients.  One was a premie who was doing well, weaning off the ventilator and would probably be extubated in the next day or two.  The other was a full-term baby with a complex congenital syndrome who was not expected to have a good long-term prognosis, but was stable for the time being.

At 2:00 a.m. I was pleasantly humming along in my routine; ABG’s drawn, lines flushed, IV piggybacks hung.  When the phone rang, it started out as a simple call from my patient’s mother, the baby with the complex congenital syndrome.  Her voice was polite but tense as I gave her a status update on baby Sam. 

“Heidi,” she broke in, ” I really need to have Sam baptized by a Catholic priest.”

“OK,” I replied, ” Do you have a priest in mind, or would you like the Chaplain to stop by tomorrow to arrange something?” 

“I really need to have him baptized right now, tonight.”  This was a strange request to come in the middle of the night for a baby that was in perfectly stable condition, but something about the urgency in her voice made me pause.  I assured her that Sam was doing fine and did not appear to be in any acute distress.  Still, she was insistent.

“I know it sounds crazy,” she whispered, “but I just woke up from a sound sleep with the overwhelming feeling that if I don’t have Sam baptized right away, I will regret it for the rest of my life.”   I glanced up at Sam’s monitors.  Heart rate and blood pressure were stable, pulse oximeter looked good, latest ABG’s were within normal limits.  Still, something in her voice had taken my heart from its usual position behind my sternum and deposited it deep into the pit of my stomach.

“OK Ellie, it does sound a little crazy, but it also sounds like it’s very important to you, so why don’t you try to go back to sleep and I’ll see what I can do.”  Getting a Catholic Priest to perform a baptism at 2:30 a.m. in a Jewish hospital was going to be no small task.  I put in a request to Chaplain services.  Yes, the mother was insistent that it had to be a Catholic Priest.  No, the baby was not actively dying.  Yes, it had to be tonight.  I felt a momentary twinge of guilt, asking a priest to wake up and strap on the clerical collar in the middle of the night when it might not be warranted.  Still, there was something in that mother’s voice that I couldn’t ignore.

I plopped down on the chair next to Baby Sam’s warmer to do my charting.  His heart rate had dipped slightly, but not enough to trigger the alarms.  I walked to the supply closet to get fresh linens to put under the bed for the next shift.  When I returned, the heart rate dropped a bit more.  I made a quick check of the monitor and line connections and put my tiny neonatal stethoscope to Sam’s chest to listen.  The heart rate was definitely trending downward, although still not an urgent situation.  The pulse oximeter had also dropped by a few percentage points.  I asked the respiratory therapist making her rounds to stick around, and I placed a call to Dr. Raymond in the call room.

As expected, Dr. Raymond was not a ray of sunshine when I woke him up.  I informed him that Baby Sam was moving in the wrong direction and asked him to come to the unit because I didn’t have a good feeling about it.  He grumbled a bit and asked what the big #*! deal was.  He informed me that this was certainly no emergency and that I could just increase the oxygen and get over it already.  He was technically correct, of course.  Objective data outweighs a subjective feeling every time.  I took the phone order and made the necessary ventilator adjustments. I called several more times and repeated the process.  Within 20 minutes, Sam’s heart rate had fallen below 100 and his blood pressure was dropping.  The respiratory therapist had started manual bagging.  Another nurse called Dr. Raymond again in the call room.

“I don’t think he’s coming out,”  she said incredulously.  My first impulse was to run to the call room and kick the door down, but I couldn’t leave my patient.  I instructed her to use whatever force necessary to drag Dr. Raymond back into the unit.  She grabbed a large bag of normal saline, fully intending to use it as a firehose to get the man’s attention.

By the time Dr. Raymond arrived in the unit, the code had been in progress for at least 15 minutes, and he stood watching with a glazed, ‘deer in the headlights’ stare.  We had already called Ellie, the mother, to inform her of the situation.

“We’re already dressed and ready to go, I had a feeling,” she replied.  “We’re on our way. Please . . .”  The rest was unspoken, but I knew what the ‘please’ meant.  It meant please let my baby still be alive when I get there, please let the priest make it in time to baptize him.  The family had already come to terms with the fact that Sam would not be on earth long, his diagnosis had prepared them for that, but they thought they had weeks, possibly months before it happened.  I glanced furtively around the unit, trying to spot a man in a black clerical collar among the staff clad in blue scrubs.  Where was the priest?  I knew it would take at least 30 minutes for the family to get to the unit.  With my hands encircling Baby Sam’s tiny chest, I performed chest compressions with my thumb. Dr. Raymond mumbled out orders for epi and dopamine and code drugs, a formality as they were already drawn up at the bedside and ready to go.  I took a deep breath and prayed that Dr. Raymond would not call the code before the family arrived so they could have at least a moment to say goodbye.  I explained the family situation to Dr. Raymond and let him know that we needed a little more time, although I did not hold out much hope.  Dr. Raymond’s response was to ask why no one told him things were going south with Baby Sam, which drew a collective sigh and rolling of eyes from all who were gathered in the unit.

As if Dr. Raymond’s attitude was not vexing enough, the priest who arrived in the unit was even snarkier.

“Don’t you know how to do this yourself?” he nearly barked.

Why a Catholic priest would think that a Methodist nurse in a Jewish hospital could perform a proper Catholic baptism is beyond me, but my hands were too full at the time to respond.  He performed the baptism in record time and huffed out of the unit.

The family arrived moments later.  Mom Ellie, Dad and a 4-year-old redheaded big brother held Baby Sam for his last peaceful moments as we removed him from the ventilator.  While they waited in the family room, I removed all of Sam’s lines and tubes.  Dr. Raymond watched silently and shuffled off back to the call room.  I carried Sam back to the family and stayed with them, answering the 4-year-old’s typical questions about death.  I assured him that nothing that he did, said or thought about Baby Sam had caused this to happen.  Children that age often think they are somehow responsible, as if the normal jealous thoughts they have about a new baby can manifest into reality.  Ellie was calm and quiet.  When I told her that the priest had performed the baptism, she squeezed my hand and the first tear ran down her cheek. 

“Thank you so much for that,” she whispered.  Those are the moments that make all the rest of it worthwhile.

I headed towards the break room to get a cup of coffee and plan my attack of rage and fury that I would direct at Dr. Raymond.  How could a doctor be so uncaring, so cold and unfeeling?  If he thought he was going to catch a few more winks in the call room he had another thing coming.  I was plotting to make the rest of his time with us as unbearable as humanly possible.  As I opened the door, I heard the sound of someone crying.  I quickly checked my location, thinking perhaps I had re-entered the family room by mistake.  No, it was definitely the break room.  A large, disheveled man in blue scrubs sat alone in the corner, crying softly. It took a moment for me to realize that it was Dr. Raymond.  He looked up at me and dissolved into loud, gut-wrenching sobs.  I stood in stunned silence, unsure of how to react, mirroring the same ‘deer in the headlights’ stance that I had seen on him earlier in the evening.  Slowly, I moved to the coffee machine, poured two cups, and sat down beside him.  He took a sip and dissolved once again into sobs.  I sat beside him silently, not moving.  When he composed himself, he started to talk.  He told me about his residency, his experience with not being able to save a friend’s baby that led to his decision to go into neonatology, his overwhelming feelings of helplessness at still not being able to make the difference he thought he would.  I talked back, but not the angry tirade I had originally intended.  Something had changed, both for Dr. Raymond and for me.

Dr. Raymond and I never discussed that night again, but the following week when I arrived for my shift Dr. Raymond had not disappeared to the call room.  My newly admitted patient required lots of drips and I was having a very busy night, as was the rest of the staff.  My other patient, a post-cardiac surgery baby, was doing great and would be discharged soon, but he was a slow feeder and needed lots of encouragement with the bottle. As Dr. Raymond finished writing orders on the new admission, I grimaced and wondered aloud how I was going to get that feeding accomplished with my other patient.  I saw Dr. Raymond walk to the linen cabinet and don a yellow gown.  He sat down in the rocking chair beside the cardiac surgery baby’s bedside.  He looked up at me expectantly.  Wordlessly, I bundled the baby, placed him in Dr. Raymond’s arms and handed him the formula.  Dr. Raymond rocked, the baby ate, and all was well.  We would never again speak of that night, and I knew we would never have to.

Note:  Names is this story have been changed for confidentiality reasons.

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Fruitcake 101: We’re all nuts about fruitcake

I recently joined a Facebook group called “Fruitcake Lovers of the World Unite”.  It seems that there are others out there like me, people who share an appreciation for the much maligned fruitcake.  Now before you start in with the jokes, let me tell you that as a psychiatric nurse and a former resident of West Hollywood, I’ve heard my share of fruitcake comments.  I’ve certainly known my share of fruitcakes, but those are stories for another blog post on another day. 

I’ve always been a fan of fruitcake, but then all of my experiences have been with good fruitcake.  My mother’s southern-style fruitcake was my starter (and always the hands-down favorite) fruitcake, then I moved on to the hard stuff, namely alcohol-soaked cakes made by Trappist Monks in isolated monasteries.  I’ve recently learned that there are several basic styles of fruitcake.  My family recipe is known as a southern-style fruitcake.  It consists mostly of fruit and nuts bound together by a light-colored buttery cake batter and contains no alcohol.  This is in keeping with my Texas Grandma’s Southern Baptist roots.  Had the recipe come from my German Catholic ancestors, it would have been soaked in rum, wine, bourbon, brandy . . . you get the idea.  Both types, when done well, are moist, dense and delicious.  The latter has fallen into the dominion of The Monastery Fruitcake, as there are several orders of Monks in the US that make and sell fruitcake.  These cakes take work, time, effort and patience. . . something the Monks have in abundance.  For the alcohol-infused cake, I would suggest ordering from a Monastery.  I recently sampled the fruitcake from Assumption Abbey and it is high on the list of Best Fruitcakes Ever.  They are currently sold out until March, but their fruitcakes can be purchased through Williams-Sonoma. 

In my fruitcake research, I recently discovered a great blog called Mondo Fruitcake which lists, rates and reviews both Monastery Fruitcakes and Southern-style Fruitcakes available for purchase.  Yes, someone has actually gone to the trouble to order, eat and then post reviews about dozens of fruitcakes.  Bless her heart.  She eats them so you don’t have to.

Reading about fruitcake naturally started a chain reaction where I began craving fruitcake.  Particularly the southern-style fruitcake of my childhood, which my mother had not made in nearly a decade.  To get past the craving, I whipped up a batch of very easy fruitcake cookies.

THE CHURCH LADY’S FRUITCAKE COOKIE

1 c. brown sugar
2 sticks butter
3 eggs
1 tsp. soda
2 tablespoons vanilla
6 c. pecans, chopped
3 c. sifted cake flour
2 lb. of your favorite candied fruit
1 lb. pitted chopped dates (optional)
12 oz. white raisins or dried cranberries (optional)
Cream butter and sugar, then mix in eggs.  Add remaining ingredients a little bit at a time. Drop by teaspoon on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool before storing

It’s a dandy little Christmas cookie, and even people who don’t like fruitcake like fruitcake cookies.

You might say I have been fruitcake-focused as of late.  There is some new-age train of thought that says what you focus your attention on is what you will manifest.  This was proven when my Mom telephoned a few days ago and, out of the blue, announced that she would be making FRUITCAKE this year, for the first time in nearly 10 years!  I went to her house today for The Mixing of The Fruitcake and sampled the results tonight.  Yes, as good as I remembered.  This is undoubtedly the type of fruitcake one should use to convert non-believers to come to The Fruitcake.  My husband was quite convinced that he DID NOT LIKE fruitcake.  Tonight, a Christmas miracle!  My husband was converted into someone who LIKES fruitcake. He did recall that the last time he had fruitcake was from Stuckey’s, so that tells you something. Now, where can I hide it so there is some left for me . . . ?

Grandma Effie’s Texas Fruitcake recipe is a little bit of work to make, but not terribly difficult.  This is the type of fruitcake that is definitely worth the time and effort to make homemade.

Grandma Effie’s Texas Fruitcake

  • ½ lb (1 ½ cups) candied cherries
  • ½ lb (1 ½ cups) candied pineapple
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup dark raisins
  • 2 cups (8 oz) pecans
  • 2 ¼ cups (9 0z) walnuts
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ tsp lemon extract
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs + 1 egg yolk

 

 

  1. 1.    Grease pan (bundt or 2 loaf pans) and preheat oven to 250. 
  2. 2.    Mix together fruit, nuts and ½ cup flour.
  3. 3.    Sift together remaining flour, baking powder and salt
  4. 4.    Cream butter with vanilla and lemon extracts.  Add sugar gradually
  5. 5.    Add beaten eggs in thirds, beating each time.
  6. 6.    Add dry ingredients in fourths, beating only until smooth.
  7. 7.    Stir in fruit and nut mixture

 

Pour into prepared pan and bake at 250 for 1 hour 25 minutes, maybe longer depending on pan shape.  (May also be baked in a water bath).

(Keeps well in refrigerator, also freezes well).

 

Mom’s Variation:  Mom uses 1 lb of cherries and omits the dark raisins.  She also throws in a bit of candied citron. 

 

S0 there you have it, Fruitcake 101.  Johnny Carson once remarked that there was only one fruitcake in the world, and people kept re-gifting it to each other every year.  I blame Johnny for the intense ridicule that fruitcake has received for decades.  That, and fruitcake from a roadside Stuckey’s.  With the right fruitcake, anyone can reside in the land of fruits and nuts.

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