Saturday, December 22, 2007

Fast'n Fabulious! (David's version)

Tonight I'd like to share with you a recipe which over the last sixteen years has become a blessing in my Advent practice, when with the approach of the anniversary of the Blessed Incarnation, I am only too aware of the too many friends and clients we lost here in Montreal during the first two dacades of the holocaust of AIDS when I was privileged to be on the front line of service.

FAST'N'FABULIOUS FRUITCAKE (David's version)

2 1/2 cups (265ML) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5ML) baking soda
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 jar (750ml) sweet Mincemeat
1 can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 cups chopped candied cherries*
1 cup candied ginger or gingembre en sirop, cut small
2 teaspoons of ginger powder
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350F (150C). Grease two 9x5x3-inch (1.5L) loaf pans.
Stir together flour and baking soda; set aside. In large bowl, combine
eggs, mincemeat, Eagle Brand, chopped cherries and ginger. Add dry
ingredients; mix well. Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake 1 hour
and 20 to 25 minutes or until done. Cool 15 minutes. Turn out of pans;
cool completely. Garnish with candied cherries if you wish. Wrap well in
foil. Store in refrigerator or freezer


And like most things associated with this blessed time of year, there's a story associated with this recipe. As my first Christmas approached after the death of my sweet Louis, I knew that I had to do something purely out of personal need- that migtht be an act of faith- in those early months of grief you can't be sure- but at least it might be a step further in healing.

Some important background: not only was my sweet man a graduate of L'institute d'Hotelerie de Quebec here in Montreal, he was a master in the kitchen and had presided over more than one epicurian restaurant. As if that weren't intimidating enough, our Mam not only raised seven children on seriously limited resources; she constantly out-does herself in the kitchen as both a baker and a chef.

So that first Christmas, less than ten months after sweet Louis' death, I had more than enough reasons to give up before starting. Somehow I came across a recipe for Christmas fruitcake, and memories of the smells; both of Mam's Christmas kitchen and our kitchen when Louis baked, came flooding back.

The one thing which probably convinced me to try this particular version was the serious role sweet minemeat plays in it- I mean I love sweet mincemeat.
I was however baking for a particular group- our POZ men and women, so some tinkering was required ie. no cut fruit or nuts. So I substituted ginger- lots of ginger- good for digestion and the immune system, and jacked the other spices.

First year four cakes for the Centre's Christmas party where the only complaint was there wasn't enough to go around. So another six for the New Years Eve celebration.

Since then, a couple more receipes have become standard additions to my holiday kitchen therapy (ginger shortbread tomorrow)and the volume of my output might vary, but never since that first Christmas have I felt alone in the kitchen when I haul out the pans and all the fixins, and work my way through one batch after another.

So from Montreal, as we approach the wondrous feast of The Incarnation I'd offer it tonight, for all of those touched by the scourge of AIDS, for all of those who have known serious loss of any kind in the past year, and for you my blessed, radiant LGBT sisters and brothers of faith.

For God so loved the world...

Amen

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