Friday, December 1, 2017

Edible Fruitcake!

When I was a child my mom would make a fruitcake with the "candied" fruit from the grocery store. Lets face it I hated it. It looked so delicious and it was always a dry disappointment. As I got older I started reading the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency and the Orphan Director always bribed the husband with big slices of delicious fruitcake. I thought maybe there is a decent edible fruit cake out there. So I turned to my trusty Fanny Farmer Baking Book. But the fruit cake recipe was too bitter and had an overwhelming flavor of molasses. Not a flavor Americans encounter outside of molasses cookies, and it has hints of bitterness, that lets face it in our fast food culture of "sweet, salty and savory" is not widely embraced. So I modified it. Over the years I have adjusted the recipe that follows. Using more widely recognizable flavors has caused this cake to be a gift people ask for at Christmas. I have had numerous requests for the recipe so here it is, in its current state. I'm a very flexible cook, and I swap out ingredients at will... it's the secret to keeping y'all on your toes. 
I'd place this on an advanced level of cooking, mainly because it takes a lot of time and prep before and after the cakes are baked to have them come out perfect. 

Edible Fruitcake

Makes four 9” X 3” pans 8-9 mini loaves
This can be eaten the day you bake it, but it tastes best if allowed to age at least 2 weeks. This batter is just enough volume to hold all the add in’s, so don’t be surprised when putting it together.  This does take days to prepare plan accordingly. And as Dr. Strange Warns Read ALL the Instructions BEFORE beginning!

At least one day before you begin in a large covered bowl place the following:
Fruit Mixture:
1 1/2 cup Golden Raisins 

1 1/2 cup Raisins 
1 1/2 cup Craisins or pitted cut Prunes 
2 cups Apricot halves quartered 
1 cup dried Currents 
1 cup dried Cherries or quartered Dates 
1 cup dried Blueberries or figs halved
(If you can’t get a variety just makes sure the dried fruit volumes match. I find the cake is perceived as more tasty when figs and dates are removed. We don’t eat them often and people can’t recognize the flavors.)

Grated zest of 3 Oranges
Grated zest of 3 Lemons
Grated zest of 3 Tangerines.
1 cup Candied Ginger chopped. * see shopping list

Cover with Honey mixture and
2 cups Brandy (buy a mid-shelf brandy not a bottom shelf brandy).
1/2 cup orange liqueur

Honey mixture:
2 tablespoons light molasses in the bottom of a 1 cup measure, then fill the measure with honey. You can adjust this but I find more than 2 tablespoons of molasses overpowers American tastebuds and adds to much bitterness. So just a hint works great. 

2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Allspice or Cloves
1 teaspoon Mace or Nutmeg (if possible grate this fresh.) 

Sprinkle top with spices 

Blend fruit mixture and set aside for a minimum of 24 hours. 
I soak my fruit for 2-3 days. It really plumps up the fruits. 

Baking Day
Before you begin to make the batter prep loaf pans with buttered and then floured parchment paper. Leave some height to the paper because the cake will rise and this will guarantee your ability to remove the cake from the pans. Preheat oven to 275° F


1 cup all-purpose flour 
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
1 pound Butter softened to room temperature
3 cups Light Brown sugar
8 Eggs
1 tablespoon Vanilla extract

Take the first cup of flour and shake it over the fruit and blend into fruit.
In a bowl mix together the flour baking powder and baking soda and salt, set aside.
In a mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar together, add the vanilla and beat till incorporated, then slowly add the eggs two at a time till it is blended. (If you are like me and forgot to add the honey mix to the fruit add it in at this time.) then add in the flour mixture a cup at at time (approximate), if you are using Kitchen Aid pop a towel over the bowl to reduce the flour flinging out of the bowl.  Once it is well incorporated get out your Largest mixing bowl, It has to be the size of a dish tub. If you don’t have a Huge Bowl…use your dish tub. 

Blend the fruit, nuts 
and batter together. 
4 cups Walnuts
2 cups Pecans  (blanched almonds work as well)  

making sure all the add-ins are coated with batter. Fill pans till they are about 1/2 inch from top of pan. 

Bake for 2 hours.
You can use any size pan this will make about 9 mini loafs and a huge number of cupcake size. if you use a different size pan you will have to adjust the time.  For cupcakes start checking them after 45 min. For mini loaf pans check after 70 minutes. When I do this recipe I double it but then my oven is packed to the hilt. The top and outside cakes will be ready after 2 hours but the middle bottom cakes take 30-45 more minutes to finish. You know the cakes are ready when a skewer is comes out clean of batter (fruit residue is ok) allow to cool for 30 minutes. When being a purist you should have some pre-washed pre-cut muslin cloth, remove the paper from the cakes carefully, they are quite delicate at this time! Re-wrap them in the cloth, pour 1 jigger (1/2 shot for min loaves) of Bourbon (or brandy, or rum or whiskey, well you get the idea) on the cloth (or directly on the cake). Wrap well in foil. Leave on counter for up to a month (or if you are paranoid freeze), add more alcohol after a week or 2 for a more powerful cake.  Best if eaten after 2 weeks. Cut with a serrated bread knife to serve. If your in a hurry, you can just leave them in the disposable pans with the paper on them and let the recipient deal with it.  

This is what I usually need to purchase to make the cakes. 

Shopping list 
Golden Raisins
Craisins or Pitted Prunes
Dried Apricot
Cherries or quartered Dates
Blueberries or figs halved
*Candied/crystalized  Ginger this can be super expensive if bought in the baking section of the grocery store If possible order online ( or buy from places like Whole foods/ Sprouts/Trader Joe’s where they sell it in bulk for 6-7$ a pound instead of 5.50$ an ounce in a tiny spice bottle. One bag is more than enough.
3 oranges
3 lemons
3 tangerines (cuties work!) (peel then scrape off and discard white pith from zest and chop)
Orange Liquor ( or Triple Sec)
Light Molasses
Light brown sugar
Extra Eggs (I used my duck eggs so I don’t need to buy these.)  

Monday, June 19, 2017

Finding Joy Again

One day a couple of months ago during a family meeting I asked an honest question of my kids. "How did they perceive me?" And then I asked my Knight In Shining Armor if that fit with who I was.  How my kids saw me was no where near the truth of my core. Why was it not shining through? I did some soul searching and realized this parenting thing is way harder than I ever expected. Parenting a special needs child can suck the rug right out from under you. I realized I needed to uncover that deep core and let it shine but how? Shortly afterward an opportunity arose to make a prop and boom it happened.

My daughter has been active in a local ballet school. I'm really just along for the ride so to speak get it ride... as in Mom I need a ride... ok anyway all kidding aside I found that I love playing with the crowd at her ballet school. One mom described me as a kid in a candy store.

You know she was right, I loved everything I got to do for them.  I found an awesome website on paper mache. I got plenty of tips, tricks and encouragement for building the full size bell for the show.  You should go check it out.

I re-ignited my love for sculpting and all things back stage. I found my joy again as I played in gooey Paper Mache with my daughter by my side, laughing, singing and creating. (and making messes... I love making messes. Thank you dear hubby for just putting up with it for the duration.) The best bit was this technique has so much toilet paper in it (clean not used) and that aspect just kept making me laugh and laugh and laugh. She got to see glimpses of the person her father married. That person has been in hiding, living under layers of guilt, obedience and fatigue. Things like sculpting and quilting they bring me joy and peace they fill up my joy tankard and I have more joy to spread around to those near me.  I'm so thankful I stepped out and said yes to this project.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

T33N$ Rülz

I had a great conversation with my kids today, we talked about society's rules and how "adult rules" are different from T33N$ Rülz.  They told me to spell it that way. 

So for your perusal I present to you the rules for teen society today,  as my teens explained it to me. They are not endorsing these to be the rules they follow, just ones they have observed. We did have  great conversation about how impossible and contradictory they are. We also chatted about how they make you fit in a box in a time of your life your supposed to be exploring your strengths and figuring out what makes you tick yet teen society makes you do it with-in an "impossible and contradictory" set of peer pressurized rules. 

You need to have sex early (by age 13). 
If you have sex early you are a slut. 
Don't die a virgin. 

Don't tell your parents ANYTHING. 
Don't tell your parents the truth, if you do tell your parents the truth, there is something wrong with you. 
Close friends call and text each other,  everyone else you text.  
You need a boyfriend (BF)/Girlfriend (GF), PERIOD! You can't NOT have a BF/GF. 
If you break up with your BF/GF you only have a week to recover, then you need to find a new one. 
Feminism rocks,  your Husband/BF has to respect you, but you don't have to respect them. If you do it make you weak. You can respect him "in private" but not "in public." 
You can lie about your friends as long as they don't find out, but they always find out. 

You are not "cool" if you don't have a phone. 
You have to be on social media. 
You can text at any time of the day. 
If you don't get a text back it means they hate you... unless they are busy... but really it's because they hate you. 
Don't break up over text its rude. 

If you show to much skin you are a slut. 
If you don't show enough skin you are a nun. 
If you are a boy and you stare at my body you are being disrespectful, I'm a girl and I can express myself in what I wear.  To tell me I look like "Fill in blank here" is "fill in blank" shaming me. 

If you are not smart enough you are a "blonde." 
If you are really smart you are a "know it all." 
It's best to be numb/indifferent in general. 

If you are male and you are kind and like art and ballet you know classy stuff you are "gay." But you can't use gay as a negative thing if your around gay people. 
If you have chores your parents are weird/crazy/strict. 
If you have chores, you have to act as if you don't. 
You can talk trash about people and swear at people but you can't use words like "white, black hispanic," that's rude. 
You can't make blonde jokes. 
You need to be supportive about homosexuality and transgenderism. 

Overall Rülz
Break the Rules 
Be Yourself!  

We discussed how pop culture and teens created these rules. They noticed how very few of them translate to adulthood.  Ditch the drama kids.  You will survive and reach adulthood. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Life: A Hard Day, Full of Good Gifts

I picked a restaurant I knew in the area, and set off to drive by the location of my friends appointment.  Only God could have known that it would be across the street from the restaurant I wanted to go to. I call that the fingerprints of my Jesus.  

Hard benches, howling infants, wood grain in mahogany finish, seals, and flags filled my senses. This place of dread to some, of hope to some, of safety they never have know before to some.  A terrible but necessary place. Humanity Oh how God must weep over us. 

My mind kept turning on Ecclesiasties chapter 3.  How for every action under heaven there is an equal and opposite action. When we weep, we also laugh, when we tear down, we also build up. Such words of wisdom to give us balance in an uncertain world. This place filled with humans of all sizes, compassionate to numb, to giving, to lost, to helpless, to caring, to hopeless, to rejoicing, all these sizes of humanity slip through these doors. Only a just God can redeem each and every situation. 

Waiting in the foyer I realized she's a CASA volunteer, that one is a social worker, Oh look a lawyer, there is foster parent who cares.  It was as if someone had written name tags with a big black sharpie. Body language is so revealing.  I was out of place, in this place. Where once I thought it held the future of my children... it stuck me so powerfully; oh Dear Lord it holds the future of so many children. I could do nothing but pray as the day ticked by. 

Eventually I arose from my seat and hugged my friend.  In bittersweetness we walked out into the sunshine and knew this was the day the Lord had made. We decided we needed some detox time before we hopped in the car for the ride home. We headed back to the restaurant a bird singing his heart out above our heads, reminded us once again of the joy of Life. Isn't it amazing how a glass of sweet tea or a cup of coffee with cream, can give such comfort. It is good to find comfort in everyday things because Life (with a capitol L) is difficult, as well as Joyful.  It was a hard day, full of good gifts.