After an enormously busy month, I finally began Christmas baking today! I confess my heart wasn't in it at first because I'm tired. However once I pushed myself to get started, it became so much fun that I pushed myself to see how much I could actually bake. After all my family has been patiently waiting to have the traditional favorites to enjoy.
One of the family favorites is fruitcake, the dessert of ill repute! However we love it! I use a recipe my mom always used, one from a vintage Borden cookbook. I bet it's in this cookbook. Today you can see it on the Borden website here. Just looking at the ingredients brings back sweet memories. I know, I know. The fruit and peels have a bad reputation but they are good in this recipe. When I open the mincemeat jar the room suddenly smells of Christmas. I think I want another jar to make a mincemeat pie. My mom used to make that for every Thanksgiving and Christmas too. This fruitcake is also moist. We don't start eating it until Christmas Eve. I've made some "traditional" fruitcake in the past, making my own mincemeat and fruit mix, but they were awful. I keep coming back to this faithful, easy and delicious recipe.
I also made bark. In my busy-ness I forgot to add the sprinkles until the chocolate had set. So I put the baking sheets of bark into a warm oven for a few minutes to remelt the chocolate. Then I added the sprinkles so they would set into the chocolate. I think I have enough sprinkles for next year too. Once these pastel ones are used up I'd like to find some red and green ones. I first had this salty/sweet snack in college. When it was first offered to me I thought my friend was crazy. But to be polite I took a taste and I've been hooked ever since. This year I found Ghiradelli candy melts so I thought I'd try them. It's still setting up.
Then I made some fudge. The simple kind. Why go to more work when simply is decadent...and fast?! In my version, though, I use regular sweetened condensed milk instead of fat free.
Also different from the original recipe is that I add chopped macadamia nuts to it once the chips are melted. I love the texture!
I also made magic cookie bars and pumpkin bread. The bread is going to be part of breakfast on Christmas morning. We'll see how much more I'll do tomorrow. Then I'll save the rest for next week to bake.
The last two evenings I've been making bows while watching Hallmark Christmas movies. This was a bit of a major undertaking that I committed myself to the weekend we decorated the house after Thanksgiving. For years these were simple bows on the wreaths on the windows of our house (Colonial Williamsburg style) and it bugged me for two reasons. Simple bows from the street look skimpy and too small. Also, it seemed a waste to use this gorgeous embossed damask velvet ribbon on the outdoors where no one would ever notice the subtle texture and beauty. Therefore I schemed a relatively simple fix. However the difficulty came in catching my husband before he hung all the wreaths on the windows, upstairs and down. My plan was to switch out the simple bows of the wreaths with the elaborately fluffy bows from the stairwell banister. Those bows were of simple silk, and of a darker hue, burgundy. They would pop more on the house.
Even so it was mostly up to me to decorate this year, since my husband could only help that weekend and my kids were busy with work and college. I took a deep breath, grabbed the wreaths and made the switch. I was immensely glad when I saw the result from the street. The house wreaths finally looked elegant. That was 4 weeks ago. It wasn't until last night that I finally untied the simple bows to make fluffy bows. One downside is that they are only 2 yards long, so now the tails are not that long. I had enough for each swag. Perfect. I also had 2 more rolls of this lovely ribbon, one partially used. These rolls are 30 feet of ribbon, that I got on sale for $5 at Hobby Lobby a few years ago. So for the three main bows at the main floor of the stairwell I used 3 feet of ribbon. I might end up trimming them down but I like the garland on the stairwell better now. The color is brighter for the dark space.
Hopefully final photos tomorrow!