In the 20-plus years that I have written this column, I have met some of the nicest people.
Some keep in touch even though they have moved away, and others communicate through Facebook or Messenger almost daily.
Lynette Faul of Gulfport never fails to send good wishes for a holiday, as does Sandra Fulcher of Long Beach.
I met Faul when she asked for a recipe for pear preserves. Since then, she has asked and shared many a recipe, and for that I am thankful.
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Fulcher and I shop at the same supermarket in Long Beach, and that’s where we met.
“Aren’t you Andrea Yeager?” asked Fulcher quite a few years ago as we were both struggling to pull out buggies to do our shopping.
We had a long conversation about food, recipes and family and have been talking ever since. We seem to run in to each other when one of us really needs a word of encouragement. God bless her.
Another reader I met at the Long Beach Library during toddler story time. She brought her crew of toddlers to the library, and I took Lilly. She befriended me about a month after my husband died. We also found out that we had longtime friends in common.
Now that Lilly is in kindergarten, I don’t see her often. Like Fulcher and Faul, West shared recipes and sometimes samples of her efforts. Last week, West came over with some of the bounty of her summer and winter gardens, including just picked sweet potatoes.
A fourth woman I could not forget is Dora Harrison of Gulfport. Harrison and I have shared recipes, computer programs and family pictures and stories. Harrison is an awesome cook, too, and an ace when it comes to helping me with a computer issue.
Another is a woman I met in a mystery book club. Sara Washburn sent me a host of Christmas cake recipes from “Mrs. Claus’ Cookbook.” A friend of hers in Pennsylvania sent them to her and Washington passed them along to me.
Not to be forgotten are two women I have never met, Dee Turner and Pat Kerstetter, both have given me recipes throughout the years. Even though we have not met face-to-face, we share stories of food and family.
I have a friend who writes “cozy little mysteries,” and I often feel that this column is a coffee klatch of good friends, who share not only recipes but also their lives. I am truly blessed to do what I do.
With such blessing in mind, we move on from Thanksgiving to Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa, all are about blessings and faith.
Of course, that means more gatherings with family and friends. It is time to start making gifts from the kitchen, some fruit cakes that must marinate for a few weeks and cookies. Beginning early is one thing that keeps the stress at bay.
On to Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa
Yes, we’ve all heard the jokes about the fruit cakes that no one wants to eat, but fruit cakes can be really tasty. I love the ones with candied cherries, pecans and candied pineapple.
No, I don’t care for citron. I usually don’t make fruit cake per se, but prefer to make fruit cake cookies that I love.
Of course, I make these and give most of these away because my picky eaters will not eat them, but friends like them.
Fruit cakes or cookies are perfect for all three of these holidays. Hanukkah begins Dec. 12 and continues through Dec. 20. Christmas is Dec. 25 and Kwanzaa, Dec. 26-Jan. 1.
The folks at Friendship Bread Kitchen (https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com) have created a friendship bread that does not use a starter. In the test kitchen, yogurt, sour cream and buttermilk were used in place of the starter. The buttermilk version was voted most like the bread made with starter.
Friendship Bread Kitchen has three PDF cookbooks out with 395 pages of friendship bread recipes.
Andrea Yeager can be reached at email@example.com and Cooks Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.
No starter (starter free) Amish Friendship Bread
1 cup oil
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour
1 small box vanilla pudding
1 cup nuts, chopped
1 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, add ingredients as listed. Grease two large loaf pans. Dust the greased pans with a mixture of 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.
Pour the batter evenly into loaf or cake pans and sprinkle the remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture on top.
Bake for 1 hour or until the bread loosens evenly from the sides and a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean. Makes 2 loaves.
Note: don’t have buttermilk on hand? Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice to 1 1/2 cups milk.
From Friendship Bread Kitchen
CHERRY PECAN FRUITCAKE
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 180 minutes
Total time: 3 hours 25 minutes
Yield: 12 to 16 servings
1 pound candied cherries
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 jar (16 ounces) pineapple preserves
4 cups pecan halves
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.
Cut cherries in half and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla and lemon extracts and mix well.
Whisk together flour and salt in a medium bowl.
Add flour mixture into butter-sugar mixture and mix until combined. Stir in pineapple preserves, cherries and pecans.
Pour into prepared tube pan. Bake for 3 hours or until a toothpick inserted in cake comes out clean. Cool cake completely in pan. Remove cake from pan and transfer to a cake plate.
Submitted by Jim Nowacki from www.magnoliadays.com/
6 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups chopped dates
4 cups chopped walnuts
2 cups sugar
1 cup white grape juice
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 pounds candied fruit (optional)
2 cups raisins
1 cup butter
3 cups applesauce
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Grease (6-by-5-inch) loaf pans or 3 tube pans. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, soda and spices. Measure out fruit and nuts, dates and raisins in a very large bowl. Cream butter and sugar, add eggs and beat well. Alternately add dry ingredients and grape juice to creamed mixture, beating well after each addition. Mix in fruit, nuts and applesauce. Pour into prepared pans weighing about 2 pounds each. Bake for about 2 hours, or until pick comes out clean.
For a fruitier cake: may also add 2 pounds of cherries and 2 pounds of candied fruit.
Submitted by Sara Washburn
TINY CHRISTMAS FRUIT CAKES
1/4 pound candied cherries (quartered)
3 candied pineapple slices, chopped
2 1/4 cups chopped nuts
1/2 cup flour
1 can sweetened condensed milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange extract
Grand Marnier for soaking baked cakes
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease tiny muffin tins very well. Place pan of boiling water in oven (bottom rack) when baking.
Chop candied fruits and toss with the flour. Mix in the rest of the ingredients and fill the muffin tins 3/4 full.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from tins when done and put on a rack to cool.
Spoon Grand Marnier over each fruitcake (repeat each day for three days). Store in an airtight container.
Submitted by Sara Washburn