Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Mom’s Fruit Cake in Qatar

Life has gotten busy, and somehow November is here and I haven’t made my fruitcakes. I need to fix that! For those of you who think fruitcakes are a joke – my Mom’s fruitcake has a secret ingredient – chocolate. Even people who don’t like fruitcake love this fruitcake.

I am in Qatar – I have brandy. I have rum. No, I don’t drink hard liquor, but oh, they do make my fruitcakes tastier. Today, I will soak the raisins in brandy overnight, so they will be ready to go tomorrow!

I am reprinting this recipe for those of you who would like to give fruitcake a try.

Mom’s Fruit Cake

This is the original recipe. I remember cutting the dates and prunes with scissors when I was little; now you can buy dates and prunes without pits and chop them in the food processor – a piece of cake!

1 cup boiling water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup lard or butter
1 T. cinnamon
1 t. cloves
3 Tablespoons chocolate powder
1/4 cup jelly
1 cup seeded raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup candied citron
1/2 cup cut prunes
1/2 cup cut dates

Put all in a pan on stove and bring to a boil. Boil for three minutes. Let cool. Add:

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Flavor with lemon

Bake at 350° in loaf pans for one hour. Makes 2 normal bread loaf sized cakes.

My variations: I put in about three times the fruit, the difference primarily in the candied citron – I prefer using whole candied cherries, because they are so pretty when the loafs are cut. This recipe doubles, or quadruples with no problems.

Pans: Mom used to line all the pans with brown paper and grease the paper. I grease the pans, then dust with more of the chocolate powder. Use a good quality chocolate, not cocoa. When the cakes come out of the oven, let them cool for ten minutes, loosen them with a knife, then they will shake out easily. Let continue to cool until they are totally cool, then wrap in plastic wrap, with several layers, then foil, then seal in a sealable plastic bag. Let them age a couple months in a corner of your refrigerator. I make mine around Halloween, and serve the first one at Thanksgiving.

I never make these the same any two years in a row.

You know how raisins get all dried out and taste yucky in fruitcakes? The night before you intend to make the fruitcakes, take all the raisins you intend to use (depending on how many fruitcakes you intend to make) and put them in a glass container. Pour brandy over them, to cover. Microwave just to the boiling point. Let stand in the microwave overnight.

The next day, you can drain that brandy and use it in a stew or something, and in the meanwhile, you now have plump, juicy raisins to use in your fruitcake, and just a hint of brandy flavor. Yummmm!

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November 16, 2009 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Christmas, Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Food, Living Conditions, Recipes | 2 Comments

Big Change; No Smoking

Sometimes change happens, and it happens so slowly or so subtly that you don’t really realize it has happened until something draws it to your attention.

Kuwait blogger Touche, one of my old virtual-blogging-buddies commented on a driving post, wondering about the baby steps it takes to change a mentality. The subject was driving, and I know he was right, I am writing “endlessly” about how annoyed I get by the lack of civility in driving here.

What I am not writing about, I noticed, is how annoying it is to be breathing other people’s smoke while I am eating.

Because it is not happening.

Who knew?

When we lived in Qatar before, people would sit right under the NO SMOKING signs and light up.

I saw things change in Kuwait. From the time we got there to the time we left, there were fewer and fewer times someone would light up in a restaurant.

Things CHANGED.

Expectations changed. I am guessing the smokers felt pressure, not just from the community, but also from family members. I don’t know if there are fewer smokers; I am inclined to think not, because I can see them smoking in their own cars. Hey – as long as I do not have to breathe their smoke, it’s fine with me, it’s their choice.

But the significant thing is – I didn’t believe it could ever change. And it did change, and it changed faster than I would have thought possible.

So I have hope for the driving issue. I think it starts with seat belts. I think if Mothers and wives start buckling up, and buckling up their children, that will be a first step. I think if there is an emphasis on driving manners, things could change. It’s a mind-shift before a behavior shift, an awareness of safety and an awareness of our interconnectedness. One thing I have seen in the Gulf is that parents raise their children to have good manners; manners are an important consideration also when considering a mate. If you take the driving problem as a manners problem, and emphasize the need for good manners on the road, maybe there is a possibility of change . . .

There is another area where I think change can happen – throwing things out the car window. If it becomes a commonly held value that throwing trash / cigarette butts / food wrappers out the window is bad behavior, I think it will stop. Maybe hand out car trash bags to raise awareness?

Have you seen the change in smoking? What I am noticing is that my dinners are no longer ruined by someone nearby lighting up. I don’t smell smoke in the malls. I don’t smell smoke in the airports. Pretty amazing, don’t you think?

November 16, 2009 Posted by | Blogging, Civility, Community, Doha, ExPat Life, Health Issues, Interconnected, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Social Issues, Values | 5 Comments

Open Window

For the last few nights, AdventureMan and I have been sleeping without the air conditioner – it has cooled enough that we can do that.

This morning, for the first time, I have the window open in the upstairs lounge where I do my computer things first thing every morning.

When we lived in Kuwait, I missed the open windows. We lived on the tenth floor, and there were no screens. I couldn’t trust the Qatteri Cat not to jump out the window. He is smart in a lot of ways, but not so smart when it comes to windows and being ten stories up.

It is migration time, and our gardens are full of birds. I remember seeing flocks of parakeets, wild bright green parakeets one time, it totally thrilled my heart. Just being able to sit here with the windows open – it doesn’t take much to make me happy. 🙂

Nov 16, 2009

November 16, 2009 Posted by | Beauty, Doha, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Qatar | 4 Comments