Thursday, November 13, 2014

Taking over a Tradition

My Grandmother was "The Baker" and holiday cooker in the family. The rest of us might have brought a side dish but we were also smart enough to stay out of her way. We kept to the edges of the warzone, ah I mean Kitchen and if called upon we rushed in to do our duty then got the hell out of her way. She was a dynamo in the kitchen and as much I try there are things that I will never be able to duplicate. The Chocolate Gnash frosting, Biscuits, Lemon Meringue Pie  and Hush puppies. I saw them made for years, biscuits and hush puppies almost every day, can I make them, yes, do they taste or look remotely like hers, nope. There was nothing fancy added to the mix, flour was poured onto the table, she made a dip in the middle, Crisco, powdered milk were added, it was mixed by hand and holy cow they were Awesome. I even have her pan! Not happening. The dogs even shy away from my feeble attempts.. I give. I will never be the family bread person.

BUT I can bake, not like her of course but in my own meager way I am picking up the spoon and I am attempting to make fruit cakes for the family this year. I do have an aunt who held the position for the last few years but due to health problems is unable to continue in her duty. Could I let it fall to the wayside, NEVER!

 I have my grandmothers recipe book and I have already started the traditional Friendship Fruit Cakes. And it is quite a process, you have to start your starter, which takes 14 days and then for another 30 you feed it. Then you have to bake! Quiet a process but I'm willing to sacrifice a bit of the kitchen counter this endeavor. In fact today is the day that I will take this starter and turn this into something more.

 It will become the base for a fruit cake you and your family will actually enjoy. I know all about how people run from the dreaded fruit cake at Christmas but this one is the one you'll be glad to get or even give. I'll give you a link to a traditional Friendship cake and starter recipe but I can't share the family secret just yet..Friendship Fruit Cake. But remember part of the deal is that once the cakes are made you will have starter left over to gift to your very bestest friends,, as we say down here, along with the recipe so that they can also gift their families with this wonderful treat. It's not just a Christmas deal, my grandmother would often whip out a few for special occasions.

The jar shown above is actually a big bigger than a gallon, it's my Collard Kraut jar but I'm not quite ready to start that yet. We haven't had a really good frost and y'all know collards aren't the best until they have been frosted on. And this is a double batch of  starter because we started counting the people who would need a cake, we're doing the medium bread pan size and one batch wouldn't do it. Then I mentioned that I was making these to a friend and she decided she needed some and then Chris mentioned it and now we have orders pouring in. So last week another double batch was started and hopefully everyone will get what they hope for but we'll see. I'm glad they are processing a week apart, that will give me a bit of time in between marathon baking events.

But I'll enjoy every minute of it and I might even break out Grandma's apron to wear. I know she's enjoying watching me carry on her traditions. One day I might even pass it along to my daughter. The only catch will be that her version will be vegan..since she's named for my grandmother I might make one batch vegan and see if they can tell. Chances are they will like that version more and a new Tradition will be born, from one Elizabeth to the next..

What Holiday food  tradition will you uphold or which ones would you like to see drop off the menu? The good, (this cake) the bad and the ugly ( those two are for Friday's post).