Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas and Fruitcakes

I just had to share this article that was reprinted in my newspaper this morning, about fruitcake traditions.  Click here to read Boston Globe columnist Brian McGrory.

Our family ate a lot of fruitcake.  In the 60's my mom made homemade fruitcake, generously dosed with bourbon.  My husband's mother did the same.  We actually loved it.  The fruitcake finally morphed into fruitcake cookies, also wonderful.  When Larry and I were stationed in Iceland with the Navy, a family friend sent us a tin of fruitcake cookies heavily laced with bourbon.  We joked that we were surprised Customs let it through, it smelled so strongly of the liquor!

Homemade fruitcake sadly gave way to the infamous Claxton Fruitcake.  My parents were members of Civitan and that was the fundraiser for years.  I dutifully ate some of the little squares, then finally refused, they were so flavorless
(I imagine it was the lack of being soaked in 'spirits').  My mom had the final Claxton fruitcake in the back of her fridge for years.  When she sold her house and moved to be near me, we had to pry it off the fridge shelf, where it had glued itself.  I don't think she wanted to throw it away!

I have not eaten fruitcake in years, but I guarantee I would enthusiastically eat a slice of either my mom's or Momma Mable's creations.  I think fruitcake became a big joke when it stopped being steeped in a wine or liquor dampened towel from Thanksgiving til Christmas Day.  Mmmmmmmmmmm.................

Happy Holidays to all and maybe you will find a fruitcake in a gift basket this year! hehehe.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Jenni Speaks

My daughter is a good cook.  She gives me lots of ideas and has gotten me to move away from recipes and 'wing it'.  She sent me an email about her weekend cooking along with a photo and I wanted to share.

See this lovely cinnamon toast snack I have here? Would you believe I made that bread from scratch using nothing but my own two hands and a wooden spoon?? Must say, making homemade bread is pretty satisfying! I made my first batch this weekend from the starter that Kat gave me. It's not perfect by any means, but it is edible and even pretty tasty so I'm darn proud of my efforts :-) Did not get much rise, I'm blaming the cold for that, but the texture is still pretty decent. It's a full 24 hour process, and a little messy, but not that much work overall surprisingly.  (Nan speaks:  I am really looking forward to tasting this bread she is now baking.....hint, hint, hint)

Also had one more kitchen success this weekend that I have to share because it was easy and amazing - baked coconut shrimp! Really simple, don't even need a recipe really - take the peeled, deveined shrimp (we also took the tails off, although I know it's prettier presentation with them on). Coat them in flour, then egg, then a mixture of panko breadcrumbs and shredded coconut seasoned with S&P. Place on a baking sheet lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray and bake at 400 for 10 minutes (I ended up flipping mine and giving them an extra minute at the very end).

 For dipping sauce I used a mango coconut sauce from HT (its basically mango puree with chilis and coconut) thinned out with a touch of rice vinegar and soy sauce. Seriously, amazing, came out nice and light and crispy -and the leftovers were good, too. Next time will chop up the coconut shreds a bit since they were a little large, but beyond that wouldn't change a thing!
Nan again:  (I found a photo from a similar recipe on  This recipe is so going in my recipe queue.  I have some lovely Mexican Wild Blue shrimp from Trader Joes'....they are from Gulf of Mexico of course, so have that sweet pop in your mouth).

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Tomatoes, again

I wanted to share with you a way to have yummy tomato-based meals all week, almost work-free.  I found this in a Martha Stewart Everyday Food magazine.  Here is the link if you want to print it off.

I opened two large cans of whole tomatoes, dumped them into an oiled roasting pan.  I pulled the tomatoes apart with my hands, discarding the hard stem ends.  Stirred in some jarred mince garlic and drizzled some olive oil and stirred.  Then I roasted it for an hour or a little more at 400.  Next time I will probably go down to 375, because the tomatoes did begin to burn on some of the edges.

Now let this mix cool and you can refrigerate it for up to a week.

So far I have stirred it into canned soup, and made a tuna marinara sauce for pasta.  The tuna dish is wonderful for this winter.  I made it for lunch today.  Simply opened a can of tuna in olive oil and dumped it in a pan, added some spoonfuls of roasted tomatoes, thinned it down with water, and simmered it until my pasta was done.  I topped the dish with just some panko crumbs straight from the package.  This was really, really good.  I think I am going to keep roasted canned tomatoes in the fridge this winter.