yesterday. The recipe I used is over a hundred years old. It still works. It's one of the amazing things about recipes.
The process started several days ago of course. I weighed out fruit and put it into two bowls. I added the only alcohol used in this house and I stirred it around. I covered it and left it.
On the following days I went back to it several times and gave it a stir.
Two bowls? Yes, two bowls. I didn't have a bowl large enough for the fruit for two big cakes - and some smaller cakes.
I make one cake for Middle Cat. Middle Cat does not bake at all - apart from chocolate cake packet mix. That doesn't remotely resemble cake in my book but she has been known to make it. If I am going to make cake I will start with a recipe. I have been known to change things along the way, according to the ingredients to hand but I start with a recipe. This year's fruit cake had the right amount of fruit in approximately the right proportions. I flung in a few extra currants - because what is the point of having about two tablespoons of currants left in the packet?
I make the other cake for Cousin Cat. He lives in London. I am not sure he could make a fruit cake. I am sure his partner could but he works long hours and, if they are flying out here to see us, I can make the cake and they can take it back with them. They always seem to find room in their luggage. I am told there is something comforting about eating fruit cake and drinking hot tea in the middle of a wintry London afternoon. Mmm...yes, I remember doing something like that.
And then there are the little cakes. I have three small loaf tins. They make cakes the perfect size to give people who live alone. The people I have given them to have changed over the years. Some of them have died or moved on or now live in nursing homes and are unable to eat cake but it seems there are always people who need cake.
This year I will give one to someone who lost her husband some weeks ago. I know she won't make cake. She may not eat it herself but I know she will use it with the visitors she is expecting.
I will give one to a friend who is going interstate for Christmas. She won't have time to make anything like that but I know she can use it. It will be a way of saying "thanks" for something she did earlier in the year.
And I have given a lot of thought to the last recipient. She isn't a friend and I know most people would say, "Why bother?"
I'll bother because I don't think anyone else will. It might not be accepted and I doubt it will be accepted graciously. I'll be disappointed if it isn't accepted at all but at least I will have tried.
You see, this person is lonely and unhappy - and nobody should be like that at Christmas.
And no, I am not being good or thoughtful or caring. It's just that I feel guilty about having all I have.