Off-duty for Christmas: Merry fruitcake, you nuts

Some of you may remember several years ago when I started doing weekly reports. I would occasionally write a short story, strictly mindless in nature, to sort of end the sometimes serious business of crime reporting with something a bit lighter in nature.

This is a rehashed article I wrote for the paper a couple of Christmases ago. With the impending holiday dinner on the horizon, I thought I would once again bring this story out of retirement.

Enjoy.

Merry fruitcake, you nuts

As the Christmas holidays close in on us, we carry on the age-old traditions of our relatives. Among those traditions are scaring the hell out of the small kids with second-rate Santa outfits that make Uncle Gene look more like Nunda the Ax Murderer than St. Nick.

The money we spend on this holiday is obscene. Every year I vow to stop the madness, set an example and refuse to accept anything materialistic — until I see the cool stuff I want.

I like to listen to Christmas music during the holiday season. Where else can you get Burl Ives, Kenny G., Michael Bolton and Bing Crosby in the same set? Weird? Maybe — but it’s Christmas! Nothing has to make sense until the credit card bill arrives in January.

No Christmas holiday season is complete without the annual “Christmas Story” marathon and fruitcake. Nothing says Christmas like watching Santa push Ralphie down the slide and eating something that weighs more than your car. What is this fruitcake and how did it get here?

Fruitcakes — a historical perspective

Fruitcakes can be traced back to the middle ages. The name is from the Latin term “Fructus” combined with the French word Frui or Frug. (Initially the name was Spartacus, but there were copyright problems.)

References to fruitcake can be traced back as far as the Romans. They reportedly used them to sustain themselves over long periods of time, but I believe more than likely they used them for weapons. Here is an actual paragraph taken from the history books describing the Roman army:

A key moment in Roman history was the introduction of the census (the counting of the people) under Servius Tullius. With this, the citizens were graded into five classes. The most wealthy — the first class — were the most heavily armed, equipped like the Greek hoplite warrior with helmet, round shield, greaves and breastplate, while carrying a spear and a big ol’ fructus.

In the early 1400’s the British discovered fruitcakes.

The Lambert Family, England 1400:

My husbands ancestor Thomas Lyman, born in Navistoke, England abt. 1470, married Elizabeth Lambert born in High Ongar in 1474. Elizabeth’s father was Robert, son of Rolling Stone’s Keith Richards and Johanna Umfreville, daughter of Benny Hill. Richards was a real fruitcake. Loved to climb palm trees on holiday.

The British fell in love with fruitcakes soon after they began to receive dried fruits from the Mediterranean. (Sadly, the ships bringing modern dental-care techniques sank during a storm.)

The fact is that fruitcakes have been around for so long we accept it as part of the holiday tradition. And the part where you actually eat it has long since become insignificant. But, in case you’re interested…

You and your fruitcake — a holiday recipe

My friend J.W. Whitlock, owner/operator of the Pines Hunt’in Shack and exclusive distributor of Uncle “Buck” Nelson’s Artificial Doe Urine and other hunting supplies, has a big get-together during the Christmas holidays. Part of that get-together involves making his famous recipe for fresh fruitcake. The other part involves adult beverages and lawn darts.

What significance does this have?

A lot. That means some folks enhance the holidays with a bit of drink and fun fare. As long as you are not driving or operating heavy machinery (only light machinery), there should be no problem.

Here is a recipe for J.W. Whitlock’s Fresh Fruitcake.

The symbol (*) indicates you can add one ounce of grain alcohol in addition to the listed ingredient.

FRESH FRUITCAKE

  • 2 medium oranges * 3 medium cooking apples * 2 ripe medium-sized bananas * 2 large eggs * 1½ cups of sugar * ¼ pound of butter, softened * 3 cups of all purpose flour * 1 tablespoon of baking powder * 2 teaspoons of baking soda * ¾ cup of golden raisins * ¾ cup of finely chopped walnuts *
  • Cut each orange, including the rind, into 8 sections. Remove and discard seeds and any brown unidentifiable spots. Add one ounce of Miss Lacy’s special medicine, which comes from that jar next to the old radiator, to a glass and drink. Chop orange finely, or so very finely, in a food processor, blender, grinder or small rented concrete mixer.
  • Set aside in a 2-quart bowl. Pour another ounce from the jar and sip it as you repeat, chopping with cored and cut apples, peeled if desired. Check fingers. If your in-laws are dining with you, leave the peels on. Combine apples with oranges, but never compare them. Peel bananas, puree, mash or stomp really good, and then mix with other fruits. Leave banana peels on floor near in-laws. Finish first drink and pour another. Take a Lucky Strike break and mingle with the ambulance crew standing by at the lawn-dart game, then head on back in the kitchen.
  • Beat eggs in a large mixer bowl. Add sugar and a couple of shots of Miss Lacy’s special medicine while gradually beating until mixture is thick and smooth, or whenever you go “Whoooweeeee!”
  • Beat in butter and whatever else you find on the shelf`. Add fruits and a couple of pickled pig’s feet from that big Mason jar on top of the 8-track player.
  • In a 1-quart container, stir or shake the flour with baking powder and baking soda. Beat flour mixture into fruit mixture. Hit Miss Lacy’s jar again. Stir in raisins, walnuts and some Texas Pete’s Hot Sauce. The nut pieces should be small enough not to interfere with slicing and consumption by the dentally challenged.
  • Turn batter into two 9×5x3 inch loaf pans (or the big dog dish) that have been greased and floured. Do not use the lithium grease on this one. Bake at 350ºF for one hour or until Uncle Dewey moons the cops when they show up for the first lawn-dart injury, or until cake test is done.
  • Let cool on rack before slicing. Serve plain or topped with a glaze of confectioners’ sugar, or some sprinkled Red Man, and orange juice.
  • Makes 2 loaves, 10 to 12 servings each. After eating, wait 30 minutes before operating heavy machinery. It’s probably a good idea to stay close to the bathroom. (This stuff could unclog I-285 at rush hour.)
  • This is normally followed by the annual drunk-guys football game. No score. 15 pass attempts. No completions, but four injuries involving pine trees and snuff.
  • Enjoy, but don’t make plans for the rest of the day.*

Merry Fructus!

*Note: This is satire and I am mostly kidding because I don’t condone any irresponsible behavior involving alcohol or lawn darts, although it tends to produce some funny human behavior when funny humans drink. Drink responsibly, which may, in itself, be an oxymoron, but keep your silliness out of the car!

Otherwise, enjoy.

12 comments Add your comment

Candy

December 17th, 2009
11:38 pm

Enjoyed it immensely! Great big belly laughs – Reminded me of a cross between Mike Royko & Dave Berry. Sent it to everyone as my Christmas eCard!

s

December 18th, 2009
12:25 am

Every year my grandmother set out fruit cake with other desserts. For decades!!!! But, I never remember anyone ever eating any. Was it the same one? Every year?

Grace

December 18th, 2009
8:31 am

Enjoyed it very much. I can remember as a child my mother making a fruitcake. I don’t remember the alcohol beikng added. To the person that wanted to know if it was the same cake probably yes. If it didn’t come from my mom.

Cubby

December 18th, 2009
1:06 pm

I miss the lawn darts game me and my brother had. We never tried to kill each other which was surprising. We only competed on how high we could throw them and how far they would stick in the ground. Today’s weather would be perfect for lawn darts.

I never had fruitcake but the grain alcohol sounds delicious.

Does grain alcohol go good with lawn darts?

Patrick

December 18th, 2009
1:50 pm

Everyone at work was stopping by, asking if I was OK. They should know by now I’m not OK, no matter what the circumstances. No matter how many times you read this, just like watching “A Christmas Story” 90 million times, it’s still good.

KarenJill

December 18th, 2009
6:39 pm

This story is just a big ol’ funny mess Officer Steve, and just like a fine jar of grain alcohol, it gets better every year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yourn!!

cletus T Rockafella

December 19th, 2009
8:39 am

I try to limit my alcohol-fueled escapades to simply running around my neighbor’s lawn naked,
and throwing rocks at the 3 lawyers and 2 judges in my subdivision. Other than that, we’re quite
stable.

Scared in Cherokee

December 20th, 2009
10:06 am

Maybe while your off from the AJC you will have time to get back to my wife and I about the Sandy Springs officer who lives in Cherokee, somewhere on the west side who thinks its a good idea to stop at a light in traffic then swing into the shoulder to go around everyone blast his siren and throw on his lights so he doesn’t have to wait. Then shut them down and take off down Hwy 92. If it only happened once ok emergency but we have watched the same officer at about the same time of day do this on 3 separate occasions. We called and left messages but no one bothered to call back.

KennesawDave

December 20th, 2009
3:02 pm

My parents told me a story about how when they were first married my great grandmother gave them a fuit cake to take back with them that was so drenched in alcohol it was black. I don’t think it was grain alcohol. Maybe rum. On their way back to Georgia from Florida they accidentally left the fruit cake on the seat next to them while deplaning. Not sure what happened to the fruit cake but from the sound of it, the crew could’ve probably used it for extra fuel if they got low on their next trip.

1911A1

December 21st, 2009
5:30 pm

That recipe (*) could go a long way to explain some of your Uncle Dewey’s holiday behavior.

noneya

December 27th, 2009
2:38 pm

Loved this article – so funny! Thanks Steve :)

Ole Guy

January 17th, 2010
12:39 pm

Back in the Dark Ages, down in L.A. (Lower Alabama), the local gentry was about evenly divided twix the “one for the road” crowd and those who remained locked in the “Ole Time Religion” values of a long-ago era. While the counties were, for the most part, either DRY or DAMP (beer and wine…so fine ‘Wolfman Jack’), a very few could be found where, along some backwoods goat trail, one could find a little “fire water”. However, while all this was going on, the general tempermant was that, while you could imbibe, you couldn’t verbalize it. I guess this was some vain effort to appease the fire and brimstone crowd who felt that “if’n ya don’t mention it, it don’t exist”. Radio announcers would extoll such-and-such a place where one could enjoy their favorite beverages (if the word “booze”, or any derivative, were ever mentioned, the sky was all but guaranteed to fall down). My favorite radio announcement was the TROOPER DAN SEZ series…the best one…”Remember, it’s agin de law to drive while asleep”.