Sunday, December 14, 2008

Fruitcake and other holidays cheers!

It's early Sunday morning. The deep freeze blankets the city, the household sleeps and Christmas is less than two weeks away. Time to start my Christmas baking.

Now, some of you might say, "Hello? Don't you think you're a little late?"

But I'd ask you, better late than never, right?

Panicked as the reality of the jolly ole' red fellas imminent arrival seeps into my addled brain, I do a quick recce of my Christmas list. Gifts to buy. 25. Gifts bought. 0. Best have a sip of holiday cheer to lift my flagging spirits. Sipping blissfully into denial of how much is yet to be done, I haul out the cookbooks, thumb through the well-worn, dried-up sugar crunchy pages searching for my favourite recipe for Fruitcake.

Now you're positive. I'm the fruity one. Starting Fruitcake less than two weeks before its eat me now date? Or possibly, you may be wondering why I'd bother making fruitcake in the first place. I gotta be a nut to foist such an inedible indelicacy on my loved ones.

But it's the tradition! The time-honoured memory-laden tradition of serving up rum-soaked cake to my daughters just to hear their collective sighs of disdain. "You've got to be kidding? Me eat fruitcake? No way."

Fortunately, I have very tolerant friends who accept my cakes with a gracious, "thank you" and never tell me what they do with it behind closed doors.

For my daughters, there is a way for them to have their cake so that I can make them eat it too. This year I've found a recipe for Chocolate Berry Fruitcake that promises to pass itself off as anything other than a fruity cake of the dark variety, unless I tell them!

How perfect is that? Combining a Christmas tradition with a fruitcake knock-off that no one will be able to discern. I can hear the collective groans of slumping fashion empires gasping at the thought of yet another Prada-esque attempt to create a taste-a-like that looks and feels like the real thing but was actually made from the hides of plastic trees of indiscernible pedigree!

And that's Christmas. Memory laden family tradition soaked in a vat of spirits doused with that extra something special to fool even the pickiest of holiday eaters into tasting yet another delicacy of the not too sure what it is kind. With admonitions of "I promise. You'll like it!" they slip a fork into the mysterious concoction laid out before them and pray the dog is waiting under the table for his seasonal pay-off.

Even if the dog doesn't like it, it doesn't mean I can't be of good cheer. It's Christmas. That time of year when humbugs fall unheard in evergreen forests and high spirits take to the air, not to mention my tummy!

With a mighty Ho! Ho! Ho! and a couple of sips of Eggnog, I stir and whir, chop and dice my way into holiday mode, even managing to get a bit of the spirits into the pan. I may be late on starting my baking, but I'm never late for celebrating this special time of year with a little bit of holiday Cheer!

I'm off and running! Gotta get my fruitcakes in the oven, cookies onto drying racks and to sample a bit more of that ole fashioned holiday cheer. Eggnog anyone? Hic!

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