Happy Corner: Ready for Christmas?
“Ready For Christmas?” Is heard earlier than normal this year. I think that is because we are all ready for Christmas or some change in our lives that has been defined by an election along with constant reminders of the pandemic that we are still hoping to survive. We are placing a great deal of hope in the immunizations that are being released soon and that hope is well placed, I believe, but we are constantly cautioned that the worst is not past yet. We are being urged to forego large Christmas gatherings. I had thought our extended family could manage an outdoor gathering at the farm home where we grew up and there is plenty of outdoor space to social distance but most of the feedback I get is to err on the side of caution and forego a large gathering this year. Considering the ages involved that is probably what we’ll do. Four siblings, ie 2 brothers, one brother-in-law and one sister- in- law, are 90 or older with one knocking on the door (me) and one brother and one brother-in-law mid to late 80’s, skipping a family gathering this year is probably the best choice. In case you can’t count, that is seven adults from 85 to 95 years old in my extended family.
Making that choice doesn’t stop me from wanting to pull out all my Christmas decorations collected over the years. Thanks to my sister Muriel and my Granddaughter, Lacey my 2 trees are decorated. Well, first I have to thank youngest son Glen and his youngest Ginny for getting them down from the barn attic. Thanks to a wide-step ladder with side handles that I am able to “walk” from room to room, both porch over-the-door garlands are hung as well as some copper kitchen-over-the-cabinets decorations taken down, polished and rehung. With helper Gwen we have the Christmas table set and most stuff put back. With a little more finishing touches I’ll be through with decorating. I am chomping at the bits to start on my baking. I will limit that, but I can’t forego the making of a fruit cake. We like to have one as does Son-in-law Orrin and son Hiram.
I use a white fruitcake recipe that I got from Mrs. Annie Laurie Ward, Mrs. Martha Creel’s sister. She was living in the little house near the Piggly Wiggly and I went to her house for something during the sixties or seventies. She had just taken her fruit cake out of the oven and it smelled heavenly. I have used her recipe ever since.
I used to always make a dark fruitcake, too, but will probably forego that this year. The recipe for it came from my Mama's Homecomfort Range Cookbook (wood stove). Baking a fruitcake in a woodfired stove is quite tricky because it takes at least an hour to bake and you don’t want to cook it too fast or burn it. How to keep the fire going without getting it too hot requires skill. Layer cakes that bake quickly have to be watched carefully too, or they will burn. My Mama was happy to turn the cake baking over to me about the time I was 12.
She made more banana puddings and cinnamon puddings for our large family. The banana pudding required a cooked custard as did the cinnamon pudding. I will share that recipe,too, if space allows.
WHITE FRUIT CAKE: Cream together ½ pound butter (no substitute)and 1 cup sugar. Blend in 1&¾ cup plain flour, 5 eggs, one TBS vanilla flavor, 2 TBS lemon flavor (Optional and I don’t use it.)Start and end with flour.
Use ¼ cup flour for dredging the fruit and nuts before mixing with creamed mixture: 4 cups chopped pecans, one pound white raisins (optional and I don’t use them) ¾ pound candied cherries (half red & half green) one pound candied pineapple chopped. Mix dredged fruit & nuts into the creamed mixture. Pour into a greased 10 inch tube pan (I use Baker's Joy). Bake at 300 degrees for an hour and a half or until cake tests are done. Let cool in the pan for 15 to 30 minutes. You may decorate the top with more candied fruit. Bring enough white karo to a boil in the microwave oven and pour over the fruit decorations.
CINNAMON PUDDING SAUCE: Boil 2 cups brown sugar, 2 cups water and 2TBS butter and set aside to cool. CUSTARD: Mix 1 cup sugar, one cup milk, 2 scant cups flour, 2 tsp. baking powder 2 tsp. Cinnamon. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 shallow pan. Cover with one or 2 cups of pecans. Pour sauce over pecans and bake on 350 degrees for 45 or 50 minutes until done. Serve with whipped cream or whipped topping. (Better with cream.)