John: ‘when the cake is sliced, I want it to look like a stained glass window’.
‘Cherries and citron…and canned Hawaiian pineapple, rinds and raisins….’
fruit of all colors combined in a large bowl
whiskey added… (no need to visit Mr. Haha Jones, the whiskey is in the pantry)
and the Amaretto
and the Triple Sec Orange
all stirred together,
left to marinate overnight, until…
‘Oh my, it’s fruitcake weather!’
Not a comment I expected to hear on a steamy May morning in Austin! Not simply a comment, but a quote from ‘A Christmas Memory’, Truman Capote’s memoir of his early childhood in Alabama…the reading of this short story on Christmas Eve, a tradition for Cousin John and his family. Again sharing a family tradition (see Christmas Pizzelle in May), John read the story to me….
then, of course, it was time to make fruitcake!!!!….as in Capote’s story, a four day event.
With the basic recipe in his head, John peruses old family cookbooks for current inspiration…
even the pictures are inspiring.
A carefully considered, comprehensive shopping list is drafted. Although we did not collect ‘windfall pecans in the buggy’ from a neighbor’s orchard, I felt a kinship with Buddy’s cousin as I rifled through the pile of out-of-season items at the supermarket, looking for green candied cherries.
Once home, ingredients are assembled…..
ready for Day 2!
At times, circumstance dictates the rhythm of life. Passing on a family tradition is appropriate whenever the opportunity presents itself…..’strike while the iron is hot’….the pizzelle iron that is!
Original family recipe – Cousin Joe calls this the Depression Pizzelle – note the ‘fat content’: butter, margarine and shortening used to make a total of 12 ounces of fat…when butter was expensive and perhaps in short supply.
Cousin John’s amended recipe using all butter:
Served with a glass of Amaretto on a May afternoon in Austin……….lovely and delicious!!!
California Christmas quirky
When it comes to granola, I am a bit of a purist….homemade, crunchy, mildly sweet, with simple rather than complex flavors. While visiting a friend’s daughter’s home in Cincinnati some time ago, I sprinkled her granola over some Greek yogurt for breakfast: love at first bite!!!
Having made it several times since, I decided to give this batch a Christmas spirit, while still keeping its flavors distinct, if a bit exotic.
To three cups uncooked oats
add a big handful of raw almonds, chopped; along with a handful of another nut, such as walnuts or pecans, also chopped
add one third cup olive oil,
crushed cardamom seed to taste,
almond extract to taste,
and brown sugar.
Mix well; place on baking sheet in 325 degree oven until all ingredients are browned and nuts are toasted, turning often.
store in mason jars with tight fitting lids
in the pantry.
Granddaughter ‘Lucy’ in A Charlie Brown Christmas
The golden years, the empty nest, retirement…whatever you choose to call the time of life beyond middle age…can be an amazingly freeing period of re-discovery and growth. Embracing the reality in which you find yourself – holding on to value, letting go of what no longer works. I found these words penned some time ago by Alexandra Stoddard, then writer-in residence at Victoria Magazine, to be both life-changing and life-affirming:
“Traditions that were once wonderful should not evolve into obligations.”
Tradition for our family: big tree, real tree, green tree, hung with all the children’s ornaments – hand-made and gathered……….
the children grew and left the nest; the tradition was becoming an obligation.
Ornaments were passed to those whose small hands had made them and hung them year after year on the tree.
last year – family heirloom spoons
this year – vintage salt cellars and shakers
Do I miss the tradition (and the small hands)??? Yes…in the core of my being………..however – borrowing from Dr. Seuss:
“Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.”