A woman with shorn white hair is standing at the kitchen window. She is wearing tennis shoes and a shapeless gray sweater over a summery calico dress. She is small and sprightly, like a bantam hen; but, due to a long youthful illness, her shoulders are pitifully hunched. Her face is remarkable—not unlike Lincoln's, craggy like that, and tinted by sun and wind; but it is delicate too, finely boned, and her eyes are sherry-colored and timid. "Oh my," she exclaims, her breath smoking the windowpane, "it's fruitcake weather!"
The person to whom she is speaking is myself. I am seven; she is sixty-something. We are cousins, very distant ones, and we have lived together—well, as long as I can remember.
The black stove, stoked with coal and firewood, glows like a lighted pumpkin. Eggbeaters whirl, spoons spin round in bowls of butter and sugar, vanilla sweetens the air, ginger spices it; melting, nose-tingling odors saturate the kitchen, suffuse the house, drift out to the world on puffs of chimney smoke. In four days our work is done. Thirty-one cakes, dampened with whiskey, bask on windowsills and shelves.
Who are they for?
Friends. Not necessarily neighbor friends: indeed, the larger share is intended for persons we've met maybe once, perhaps not at all. People who've struck our fancy. Like President Roosevelt.
A Christmas Memory...........By Truman Capote
These were Daddy's specialty!
Estelle's Favorite Fruitcake Cookies
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
3 cups flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
3 T. buttermilk
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. cinnamon
2 cups candied cherries (red and green)
2 cups candied pineapple
3 cups chopped pecans
1/2 cup raisins
Cream together the softened butter and sugar until well blended. Add eggs along with buttermilk and blend. Sift dry ingredients separately then add to the creamed butter/sugar mixture. Add fruit and pecans and mix well. Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes @ 350 degrees.
Estelle's Milk Punch
8 cups 98% fat-free vanilla ice cream
3/4 cup bourbon
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 teaspoons bittersweet chocolate, grated
Combine first 5 ingredients in a blender; process just until smooth. Pour 1/2 cup ice cream mixture into each of 12 glasses; sprinkle each serving with about 1/4 teaspoon chocolate. Serve immediately.