Tag Archives: crafts

Fruitcake, balls and tornadoes

Like Ahab hunting Moby Dick, I’ve been on an obsessive search–to find those big, fat, shiny ornaments you hang on deciduous trees outside. Finally, I hit the target. I mean Target, the store. That’s where I found them. And I’ve hung them outside as my own clenched-fist protest against the winter sky–its shortening days and longer nights:

christmas 2012 big ornaments

Speaking of things Christmasy, let’s take a break from making fruitcake jokes to actually make…fruitcake. Or, rather, fruitcake bar cookies. Believe it or not, until I was in my twenties, I’d never tasted fruitcake. But after I married, I discovered that my mother-in-law not only liked it, she made batches of it every Christmas, all soaked in apple brandy, to send as gifts to friends and relatives. Her recipe was very good–a dark, dense cake filled with candied citron, orange peel, cherries and nuts and raisins, too. When she lived in Maryland, she’d go to Lexington market to find these candied treasures.

She is gone now, and I can’t recreate her fruitcake success. Her recipe was for many cakes–I tried one year to make only one loaf by doing lots of math (long division, even!) with the recipe. Me + lots of math = not-so-good-fruitcake.

Not to worry — she also left us a recipe for fruitcake bar cookies, a lighter batter but still moist and sweet. So if you happen to be among the few, the happy few, who enjoy fruitcake, here’s the recipe:

EDITH STERNBERG’S FRUITCAKE BARS

Cream together:

  • 1/2 cup butter (one stick)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsns milk

Sift:

  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tspn cinnamon
  • (dash of nutmeg if desired)

Mix dry and wet ingredients. Batter is VERY thick.

Add: 1/2 cup raisins, 1/4 cup candied cherries, 1/4 cup candied orange peel, 1/4 cup pineapple — whatever candied fruits you like and, really, as many of them as you like.

Spread with spoon (or your clean fingers!) in a greased 9 x 13 pan and bake at 350 for 1/2 hour. Cool and cut into bars.

Fruitcake cookie

Fruitcake cookie

I saved the recipe in my new recipe book. The one I made. Yes, I did.

Finally, a note about a previous post…

I wrote about my recent trip to Kansas where I met long-time writer pals for the very first time after corresponding with them for more than ten years. In looking through my photos of that trip, I came across this one, from the Kansas City Airport:

ks tornado shelter sign

Hmm….I guess they have tornadoes out there sometimes. Would make a great setting for a fantasy tale….

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I am not crafty

This is why I don’t do crafts.

I had this idea to gather the various recipes I’ve jammed in cookbooks on notebook paper over the years and to organize them. So I have this black plastic binder, left over from who knows what, and I punch holes in the recipe papers to insert in said binder. So far, so good. I’m using up something old, I’m doing the organizing. I’m very proud of myself.

But then I think: this binder looks so blah, and I have some material left over from a time I tried to make a slip cover for a wing chair cushion (“tried” is the key word – do you detect a pattern?)….  And wouldn’t this binder be so sweet and homey and cute every time I pull it out to use a recipe if it looks like something other than leftover office supplies?

So I cut out a rectangle of fabric for the cover for this binder, but the fabric was wrinkled-looking. Back in the day, I might have been okay with that, but now, I’ve decided I’m going to do this right. Ironing! That’s the solution!

Turns out it’s one of those “Goldilocks” fabrics, though, where the temperature on the iron has to be just right in order for the wrinkles to come out and the fabric-like qualities to stay in. Ahem.

Okay, so one piece of the fabric now has a slight imprint on it  that looks like the bow of a ship. That’s okay. Since this project is all about not wasting materials, it will do. It’s just a light image, after all. The kind of thing where you look at it and think, is something off there or is it my eyes?

Moving on, I apply glue to the front of the binder and smooth the fabric over that section. I then set a big, heavy pot on top of it to make sure the fabric stays stuck to the binder.

The picture tells the tale. First of all, the glue isn’t really drying. Maybe it’s not the kind of glue you use with plastic binders and cloth with odd plastic-like qualities? Second of all, you can see the pattern of the glue through this fabric! And it’s heavy stuff. It feels like a double burlap bag. It’s like woven steel. You could probably build a house with it! (Especially if you iron it first, bringing out its stiffer aspects.) Yet it’s transparent enough to show the glue lines? What the what the…. Maybe the military should learn about this fabric…

Notice the glue swirls. How is this possible?

End of craft experiment for me. Next time I’m at the mall, I’m buying a nice recipe book I can throw my papers in, something already manufactured by people who know how to work with fabric and irons and glue, who have the skill set I was obviously not born with. I’ll step away from the glue gun…before another innocent binder gets hurt.

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