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It’s Thanksgiving time; use the holiday to be thankful

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It’s a time of year that we count our blessings and are “THANKFUL” for our many friends and love ones.

It’s a time when my family members come together from all across the state to celebrate Turkey Day, National Family Week and the pleasure of each other’s company. Really, that’s what it’s all about!

It will be amazing to watch our children with their little ones. We will share old family traditions and make new ones with the younger generation. It’s hard to believe that I’m now considered one of the “seasoned” wiser heads.  Wow! It seems like it was just a few years ago we were traveling to our grandparents and now we are the grandparents – still travelling, though!

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, be sure to extend your love around your family, friends and neighbors.  And remember to take lots and lots of pictures. These will become memories we can enjoy for many years.
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The Escambia County Extension office will be closed today, Wed., Nov. 22 through Fri., Nov. 25. If you need help roasting your turkey or have other questions about cooking meats, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854. They will personally answer your questions on weekdays year-round.   It’s not a recorded voice.
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After Thursday’s feast, we rest up and get ready for Black Friday’s “sales marathon,” and then the big game on Saturday. As I mentioned before, it’s a wonderful, busy holiday with family and friends! So enjoy it!

My former co-worker, the late Peggy Bracken, usually started baking her fruitcakes the Saturday after Thanksgiving in preparation for the Christmas Holiday. She realized that it took about a good month for the cake to “age”, with proper “seasonings.” After the fruitcake had aged properly, she served her guests paper-thin slices of fruitcake instead of big chunky slices. Peggy felt that the thinner slices allowed you to savor the flavor. Her Old Fashion White Fruitcake recipe is one the most requested Fruitcake recipes we receive at the Escambia County Agent’s office. Enjoy!

Peggy Bracken’s Old Fashion White Fruitcake

Sift together into large 4-quart mixing bowl:

4 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1 /2 teaspoon double-acting baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

Add:

1 quart pecan halves

3/ 4 pound chopped candied pineapple

3/ 4 pound whole candied cherries

1 pound golden raisins

Directions:

Grease 10-inch tube pan or 9-inch loaf pans with Baker’s Joy* cooking spray.  Line each with parchment paper or heavy brown paper, or 2 layers or wax paper and thoroughly spray again.

Mix until all fruit and nuts are well coated with dry ingredients.  Set aside.

Cream:

1 cup of butter.  Gradually add 2-1/4 cups of sugar, creaming until light and fluffy.

Add:

6 unbeaten eggs, beating well after each and 3 ounces brandy flavoring.  Add to fruit mixture.  Mix well to combine.  Turn into a greased 10-inch tube pan or two greased 9x5x3-inch pans.  Fill pans two-third full.    Bake in slow oven, 275 degrees for 2-1/2 -3 hours for tube cake; 1-1/2 to 2 hours for loaf cake.  About 1/2 hour before cake is done, brush with honey or white syrup.  Cool completely.  To cool fruitcake, place the pan right side up on a rack and cool for 30 minutes or until cake feels lukewarm.  Run a small spatula or dull knife between the sides of the cake and pan.  Place another rack over cake and turn upside down.  Turn cake right side up and let cool completely on rack.

To store fruitcake: wrap in a large piece of cheesecloth that has been soaked in fruit juice or any spirits.  Then wrap in foil.  Store in an airtight container in refrigerator, or a cool place. Quick fix tip to age fruit cake:  Follow the instructions for baking the fruitcake, then wrap it tightly in aluminum foil and put it in the freezer.   Remember to “season” the cake every so often with fruit juice or other libations.  This little trick will give the flavors a chance to intermingle; and the fruit juice will keep it nice and moist.

Baker’s Joy* cooking spray – Trade names were used for specific information.  Similar products may be substituted.

Revised December 2015