Thanks for the Memories

Nobody in my family likes fruitcake. I might generalize and say no one in the USA likes fruitcake, but there’s always a few exceptions. I am aware of all the places that sell gourmet fruitcake, and have read lots of recipes for White Fruitcake, or Southern Fruitcake, and there are always a few deluded souls who say. “even if you don’t like fruitcake, you’ll like this one”. Ummm, that would be no. Once when I was newly married, my husband’s wonderful grandma regifted me a tin of imported Scottish fruitcake. When I finally got it open, there were living creatures in it. If I had been a fruitcake aficionado, it woulda scarred me for life. This is all by way of explaining my strong feelings toward this holiday delicacy (insert imagined emojis of cats making “Eeew faces” here. So I don’t have to figure out how to do it).

Now for the True Confessions portion of this post. I make fruitcake. Because a few years after Mom died, my siblings got nostalgic for it. Mom made it every year, and always set out a plate after holiday dinners. Sometimes the grownups ate it with their post prandial coffee; I figure it was either to kill the taste, or because Mom basted that stuff for weeks in alcohol. God knows what proof that cake was, by the time she cured it.

Anyway, due to a wash of memories, I dug around in Mom’s overflowing recipe box, looking for that old recipe, and was actually dismayed when I couldn’t find it. Two more careful searches through the recipes finally revealed a tiny label removed from a 1 pound glass jar of candied fruit fragments. When was the last time you saw this stuff in a glass jar? Like maybe never? So you know it is a Heritage Recipe. I tell myself that.

fruitcake recipe

So anyway, for the last couple of years, I’ve made this fruitcake and send mini-loaves to the siblings. They say they appreciate it. But everyone admits you just need a bite or two to take you back to those golden memories. I get the blast from the past by mixing it up, and baking it for 3 hours. I imagine Mom doing this exact thing. Then there is the part where you poke holes in the loaf, drizzle liquor (I use strong Bermuda rum we’ve had in the cupboard for about 12 years) over it and wrap it in cheesecloth. Every week or so, I take it out of the fridge and drizzle more rum over it, till you can get a little tipsy just smelling the loaf. I wrap it in saran wrap and tin foil, and ship it off to Illinois by Priority Mail. So far no drug sniffing dogs have barked at the packages, and no ATF employees have confiscated it. By the time it gets to my brother and sisters, it is probably more like macerated fruit – booze soaked preserves. I taste it and it is like eating a jar of maraschino cherries that could get you stopped for DUI. I figure they maybe have a slice and use the rest for a Yule Log. God knows it is so flammable it probably makes lovely blue and green flames in the fireplace.

Anyway, since I have been making these tiny sample loaves, I kind of reconnect to my Mom. Without the lengthy aftermath. Cause I swear, you could find a foil wrapped chunk of fruitcake in our childhood fridge in April. Shudder.
The older I get, the more I appreciate even the little traditions in our family. So thanks for the memories, Mom.



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