Believe it or not, fruitcake is a well-loved dessert known throughout the world. It is only in the United States that this cake is the butt of jokes, probably because they were, at one time, mass-produced for mail order and tended to be dry and of questionable age. Some say the ridicule can be traced to Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, but research shows "fruitcake trashing" occurred much earlier in the 20th century.
Though celebrated by some as the delicious tradition it is intended to be (National Fruitcake Day is December 27), others applaud this dense loaf laced with fruit and nuts only when it is flying through the air on National Fruitcake Toss Day, January 3 (or the 7th, depending on which website you visit).
Historically speaking, some believe that ancient Egyptians sent fruitcake to the afterlife with their deceased loved ones. We do know that they did not become common, though, until Roman times, when pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and barley mash were mixed together.
Preserved fruit, spices, and honey were added during the Middle Ages. Sugar became a main ingredient in the 1500s in the American Colonies, and alcohol was widely used starting in the 1800s. Somewhere along the way, nuts became a staple, as well.
Today, fruitcake is served year 'round in Australia, but is generally enjoyed as a Christmas cake across Europe, India, and parts of the Caribbean.
So, will you buck the trend in the U.S. and give this recipe a try? If you don't like it, you can always save it for January 3!
No-Bake Graham Cracker Fruitcake
3/4 c. sweetened condensed milk
3 c. mini marshmallows
1/2 c. orange juice
1 box + 1 inner seal pkg graham crackers
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 c. raisins
1 c. dates, chopped
1 c. nuts, chopped
16 oz. assorted candied fruit, chopped
Combine milk, marshmallows, & orange juice in large bowl. Let soak 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until marshmallows soften & dissolve slightly. Crush graham crackers into fine crumbs & mix with spices. Add fruits & nuts, stir. Slowly add liquid mixture and stir by hand until well combined.
Press fruitcake into non-stick, lightly greased, or waxed-paper-lined bread pan or mold, cover with plastic wrap, and then with foil. Refrigerate for 2-3 days for flavors to combine. Slice & enjoy.
Instead of the listed fruit, experiment with craisins, dried apples, peaches, mangoes, blueberries, and/or strawberries, or get crazy and use gumdrops, gummy bears, gummy worms, and/or chocolate chips. If you use dried fruit, soak it in additional orange juice (or brandy) in a glass or ceramic bowl (not metal) a few hours or overnight to soften.
Delta Media Group
Decorating for the holidays is one of the fun perks of being a homeowner, because your whole property becomes a blank canvas. Decorating is a great opportunity to get in the spirit of the season, show off your sense of style, and get your kids (even more) excited for the holidays. No matter how you choose to decorate your home this holiday season, just remember that it's also important to keep home safety in mind as you deck the halls. We've put together 5 decorating tips to help keep your home safe, without cramping your holiday decorating style.
Check It Twice – Holiday lights are among the most popular decorations, and for good reason! They're bright, beautiful, and can transform the look of your entire property. Before you start stringing up those lights, however, be sure to check for any signs of wear. If there are broken lights or exposed wires, it's time to purchase some new outdoor holiday lights. Remember that outdoor lights are exposed to the elements, so even minimal signs of wear can pose a risk. Bonus Tip: If you're in the market for new lights, try LED lighting rather than incandescent bulbs. LED lights are more energy efficient, burn cooler than incandescent bulbs, and come in just about any color you can imagine.
Don't Overload Outlets – Overloading a single outlet is a fire risk, even if you're plugging in new, energy efficient decorations. Avoiding tangled wires is also good for holiday decorating safety, and it's easier to do when you use multiple outlets. Always plug decorations into outlets with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters, which are designed to shut down the circuit automatically if certain signs of electrical danger are detected.
Indoor/Outdoor – That giant, inflatable Santa Claus won't fit in your living room, so it's probably a safe bet that he can be used outside. But not every decoration makes the distinction so clear. For any decorations that rely on electricity, always check whether they're rated for outdoor use before you plug them in outside. This is a great step to take care of while you're shopping for decorations, as the necessary info should be available right on the packaging.
Rooftop and Ladder Safety – For many homeowners, the holiday season is one of the few times each year when we take our ladders out of long-term storage and venture onto our rooftops. Stay safe by taking your time, having a plan, and wearing sturdy boots (or sneakers) with strong treads. If you do plan on climbing on your roof or using a ladder to decorate, never do so alone. Make sure there's someone on the ground to "spot" you and aid if you run into trouble.
Clean Gutters – Since you're likely to be spending time up there anyway, it's a great idea to clean your gutters before stringing up any holiday lights. Dried leaves and plant matter in gutters can serve as kindling when a faulty wire leaks electricity. As a bonus, keeping your gutters clean is a great way to lower your risk of water-related roof damage throughout the year.
The biggest thing to remember for holiday decorating home safety is that electricity can be dangerous, especially if you're using older decorations. Check any decorations for signs of wear before putting them up, make sure that any decorations you wish to use outside are rated for outdoor use, and keep your gutters clean to reduce fire risk. And of course, don't forget to have fun!
Terrific BBQ Recipes
Fantastic recipes just in time for your late summer get-together!
Tequila Baby Back Ribs
|2 Tbsp. chili powder||1 tsp. cayenne pepper|
|2 Tbsp. paprika||1 tsp crushed red pepper|
|1 Tbsp. garlic powder||1 chopped onion|
|1 Tbsp. salt||1 lg. handful chopped cilantro|
|1 Tbsp dried oregano||3-4 cloves garlic, diced|
|2 tsp. cumin||1 bottle (fifth) tequila|
|1 tsp. black pepper||1 lemon, halved|
|1 tsp. white pepper||2 limes|
Combine all the above and season 2 full slabs of ribs, each cut in half. Refrigerate 2-4 hours. Put half of 1 slab in 1-gallon ziploc bag, layer with onion, cilantro, and garlic. Place other half on top, repeat with onion, cilantro, and garlic. Pour in half bottle tequila. Add juice of half lemon and 1 lime. Seal. Repeat with other slab. Marinate at least 4 hours. Grill with onion, cilantro, and garlic at 350 degrees until done.
Honey Mango-Glazed Baby Back Ribs
|1 c. honey||4 ripe mangos, cubed|
|2 full racks, baby back ribs||1 tsp. pepper|
|1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce||1 Tbsp. salt|
Remove ribs from packaging, rinse and pat dry. Remove membrane from backside of ribs. Place ribs in shallow pan, sprinkle salt and pepper evenly and set aside. In a small saucepan, add chipotle/adobo, mango and honey. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until cooked down and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Using the slow and low method of BBQ'ing, set temperature to 225-240 degrees. If using coals, let them burn off and move over to one side of the grill. Wrap the ribs and 2/3 of the sauce mixture in aluminum foil tightly and place on grill. Close lid. After 2 hours, flip the ribs and let cook for another 2 hours. Open the aluminum and remove ribs, place them on grill and brush on remaining sauce and let cook another 30 minutes.
Happy Valentine's Day to you and yours! Today is the day for love and romance, heart-shaped chocolates and candlelit dinners.
What do you really know about Valentine's Day? Here are some fun trivia questions to test your knowledge.
Ready for the answers?
How'd you do?
Whether you are celebrating with your beau, your best friends, your pets, or your neighbors, we wish you a day full of love!