Monday, 10 November 2014

Holiday Season

The boss has verified that I'm officially done work for the season, so I'm taking an extra day in the country today.

Despite a few light frosts, there were still enough flowers and grasses that looked nice in the garden to cut what is likely the last bouquet of the year - chrysanthemums and feverfew, miscanthus plumes and a grass whose name I don't remember, with seed heads like flattened oats or feathers (quaking oats, maybe?).

Since it's decent weather today I may go and give the dye garden a last clean-up for the season after lunch. Right now, though, I'm supervising the fruitcake in the oven. 'Cause Christmas is coming, right? And this fruitcake is good out of the oven (which is why we always make part of the batter into  a muffin tin full of mini-fruitcakes), but better when wrapped in brandied cheesecloth and  aged for a while in the fridge.

I know fruitcake is kind of a joke, and many people don't like it. My mother used to work for a lady who had I don't know how many bricks of it in the freezer that people had given her - she didn't like it, but couldn't stand to throw it out and waste it. I say it depends on the fruitcake. If you're talking supermarket bricks, or even bakery stuff, no, you'd have to pay me to eat it. Even the local bakery in town, which ships fruitcake all over the place - well, I tried it once and that was enough. But our fruitcake is moist dense stuff, with bananas and spice and 6 eggs in the batter, and just enough cake to hold the fruit and nuts together. Comes from a now-battered magazine, older than I am, which also has our Stollen recipe from for Christmas breakfast.

It has candied fruit, yes, but that's only a fraction of the mixture; the rest is raisins and apricots, dates and prunes, and walnuts, all soaked overnight in brandy. We've converted people to fruitcake lovers with this recipe. And it certainly wouldn't be Christmas around here without it!  

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