One of the things I loved about being a young couple starting out with a new family was making our own Christmas traditions, but as the years go by some of those traditions have started to grow a bit stale and I’ve decided not to feel guilty about changing them up.
Yesterday I made my annual pilgrimage to the Nanaimo ferry terminal to pick up my daughter and her friend who were arriving from Vancouver for Christmas. Unlike last year’s snowy Christmas (Have a Ferry Merry Christmas) it was a bright, crisp, sunny day. Like the scenes of people greeting loved ones at the airport at Christmas at the beginning and end of Love, Actually, the happiness of families and friends greeting each other as they roll out the terminal door is tangible in the air and never fails to bring a tear to my eye.
This year we are happy to have someone new in our midst–a friend who otherwise would be alone for the holiday this year. And tonight my Cuban American daughter-in-law, 3000 miles away across America from her family in Miami, is making a traditional Cuban Christmas Eve dinner for us all of pork (we don’t have a whole pig, but we do have the sour orange marinade flown in from Miami), rice and beans, plantain and flan. We’ll still have a turkey tomorrow, but we love this new addition to our Christmas traditions. So delicious, and change keeps the holidays fresh.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from writing the Fortune Bay books, whether it be old friends or new, husbands, lovers, children or extended family –your real family is made up of the ones you love.
I know Christmas is not all mistletoe and holly–in fact I’m making that a tag line for Louise’s Christmas book–so if you find yourself alone (or are looking for a little alone time in this busy season) feel free to join the big, messy, loving family in Fortune Bay and leave the real world behind, just for a while.
(Home for Christmas is half price until the end of the year at all the major online retailers. just click on the cover in the sidebar.)
So I encourage you to make your Christmas into the holiday you want. Whether you spend it with family, friends, or alone with a glass of eggnog and a good book, I hope your holiday season is a joyous time.
This is my fantastic old recipe for the Best Christmas Fruitcake Ever, but in a new form. Fruitcake cupcakes!
It’s always so popular, so sweet and moist, that even though the recipe makes 5 small loaves, it’s never enough to give a nice looking piece to the number of people I want to share it with.
So this year I tried baking it in muffin cups–with some success. I immediately discovered that if it’s not a loaf, you’ll want to cut the cherries into smaller pieces. (When you slice the loaf the cherries automatically get sliced.) That left me digging the cherries out of the batter–well, you get the picture. The alternative would be to put in a lot more cherries! I’ll leave that decision to you.
I started with the tiny muffin/ cupcake tins, 1 1/2 inches in diameter, and saw right away that the fruit mix was too coarse for that size–and that you’d want to do something about that before mixing into the batter. (see above) Also, they baked too fast and got very crispy on the top. Basically little rocks. Most of those went into the compost. 🙁
Regular sized muffin tins worked well though, but I would still recommend cutting up the cherries. I tried putting a half a candied cherry on top but most of them sank into the mix.
Other than that, they were very successful! 🙂
This recipe is so moist (it’s the jam and pineapple) that you really don’t have to wrap the cakes cloths soaked in brandy, or fruit juice, or, my favorite, Fireball. So I’m not planning on wrapping the cupcakes. (Although I will wrap the loaves in brandy soaked cloths, and foil, and put them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until Christmas.)
But I would suggest baking them in paper or, even better, foil lined muffin cups (they might stick to paper) since they get slightly candied on top and stick to the tins. I didn’t do that and had to cut them out of the tins.
And only bake for one hour thirty minutes, checking occasionally from one hour on.
It’s a great recipe, nothing like the dry cakes you buy in the supermarket. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
PS _ The winner of the print copy of The Good Neighbor in November’s Facebook sweepstakes was Teresa Byrd! Congratulations Teresa!
Watch for next month’s contest when you’ll be able to enter in comments on the blog post too.
I had a house full this week, my niece, her partner and their 5 children visiting and, it being cherry season here in BC, I took the opportunity to make my favorite Cherry Cake. It’s sort of like the French Clafoutis but the beaten egg whites make it more of a cake, less pie. And the almond extract makes it smell amazing!
We’ve been lucky to have a prolific cherry tree for many years and I make this cake form either fresh or frozen cherries. Best eaten the first day – as if you could resist!
I’m publishing Family Matters, a new Fortune Bay Novella, on all online platforms this weekend!
It’s the sequel to The Good Neighbor and, if you’ve read that and have posted a review on the online bookseller of your choice, let me know (by email) and
I’ll send you a free VIP Readers copy of Family Matters.
Reviews don’t have to be long, just tell other readers how you felt about the story.
I love this one by the husband of a reader! It made me laugh.
And here’s s another example.
Here’s the Blurb for Family Matters.
Welcome back to Fortune Bay
Be sure to read The Good Neighbor before reading this novella!
When I finished writing Home for Christmas, Louise and Blue’s story, I sat back and thought about where everyone in Fortune Bay was in their lives at this point. Louise and Blue were fine, all lovey-dovely, Louise moving into Blue’s new log house, both of them ecstatic about the possibility of twins.
But what about Frankie and Sean? By spring, it had been five months since they found Amber—or rather, since she found Sean. Now he and Amber were living with his mom Stephanie, and Frankie was living alone—not the best situation for Sean and Frankie – or for Stephanie and Max.
And what about Amber? It was hard to believe everything was just smooth sailing for her after such a huge upheaval in her life.
By now you have probably figured out how real these characters are to me! Lol. I couldn’t leave them in this situation. The story started to grow and turned into this sequel novella, written specially for my most loyal readers who have been reading all the Murphy family Fortune Bay books.
If you haven’t read the other books, do yourself a favor and put this book aside until you have.
I hope you enjoy Family Matters as much as I enjoyed writing it!
One reader obviously felt the same way when they finished The Good Neighbor.
I hope she finds this book now. If she is on my mailing list she’ll know by now.
Thanks for reading,