just add love

fruit pound cake

If you strip away all the pressure, the need to make everyone happy, the perfection, the competitive gift giving, the designer holiday decor, the exquisitely decorated cookies, carefully planned menus and coordinating wines, the endless trips to the shops, the laying awake worrying about who or what you might have forgotten or overlooked or somehow unintentionally slighted, and the general need to outdo everyone including yourself — then it might actually just be a holiday after all.

Just add love and forget about as many of the other things as you can. I’m pretty sure that’s what Christmas or whatever holiday you are celebrating, is actually supposed to be about.

This week we had a serious ice storm. It shut down our power for almost 24 hours. During the night, the house was absolutely silent – no furnace, no refrigerator running, no buzz or hum or any kind. The only sounds I heard were of the dog stretching and sighing, and the occasional patter of freezing rain against the house before it fell silent again.

I woke up feeling unusually refreshed. Re-booted. The ice was too treacherous to go anywhere and there was no power to do anything with – so no laundry, no cleaning, no cooking, no driving anywhere, no work, no shopping, no computer.

I ate leftover cold pizza and drank hot coffee for breakfast. And then I put on my snow gear and took my dog for a walk. She hesitated on the ice. Uncertain. We gained confidence as we went.  At the end of my street is a riverfront park – I stopped to take a few photographs of the ice everywhere –  layered on the grasses, the trees, on the river itself,  on remaining oak leaves and berries on bushes whose names I don’t know.

Art all around me…..

walking trails

like Narnia

snow flowers

ice flowers

red

red

frozen sumac

frozen sumacs

frozen elderberries

elderberries

beautiful frozen grasses at river edge

icey grasses at the river’s edge

My dog was skidding along on the surface – throwing sticks for herself and watching as they slid away across the ice. It’s enough to make me love winter.

My family is home and instead of spending my days doing all the things I probably should be doing – I’m doing what I want to do. I’m going to walk my dog, meet a friend for coffee, and wander around a bit in downtown Kingston in the snow.

I didn’t put up a Christmas tree this year. I didn’t make a serious, brandy-soaked Christmas fruit cake. I haven’t got tins of baking stacked up sky-high. I haven’t rushed from shop to shop searching for elusive, unknown, perfect things.

But because it isn’t Christmas without some things – like shortbread and fruit cake – I’m making this simple, delicious, fruit pound cake. My mother’s old, English recipe. It doesn’t require steeping or soaking, or aging. It doesn’t need five pounds of assorted dried fruits. It doesn’t make enough fruitcake to last until the next year. You won’t need to recycle it or compost it or use it to build with.

I particularly like currants so I always use them even though they are increasingly hard to find. But I imagine you could just use more raisins and sultanas instead. And if you don’t like candied peel just skip it. If you don’t have glace cherries – try dried cranberries. Really you can do whatever you like with it – it’s very forgiving.

Just add love.

Mum’s English Fruit Pound Cake

6 oz (¾ cup) butter
6 oz (¾ cup) brown sugar
2 large dessert spoons of golden syrup (mum used a serving spoon, I remember. You can substitute fancy molasses – but try not to)
2 eggs
2 cups currants or use currants, raisins and sultanas mixed
2 ounces of candied peel (I never have this – so sometimes I add a tablespoon or two of marmalade or just skip it altogether)
2 ounces of glace cherries (I used about ¼ cup dried cranberries)
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
Dash salt
4 tbsp milk

Mix the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and golden syrup. Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and fruit. Stir into butter mix. Add milk.

Bake in a greased and floured ring cake pan (or whatever you like). Bake at 325 deg F for about 45 minutes or until cooked.

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33 thoughts on “just add love

  1. Another of your must try recipes. Wishing you, Lola, your girls and your hubby a very merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year. With much love, Kendra, Robin and the kitties.

    P.s. sounds like my Christmas – no tree, no baking, my Mom is cooking this year. So a nice relaxing holiday. Hugs to you my friend. Xxxxxooooo

  2. How liberating it sounds. You are doing exactly what you want to do.The recipe sounds wonderful. No tree for me, a few decorations around the house. No big splurge on gifts, just about everything I am giving is home made. Hope you all have a great holiday!

  3. I liked your thoughts on keeping things simple, remembering what is important. I am using a very simple service at our church this evening. Yes, this evening, Dec.23,. We always celebrate “Christmas Eve” on Dec. 23rd. Don’t ask why, the story is long and not that interesting. But the point is, it works for us. If you don’t like candied peel just skip it. I love that.

    • Was hoping to come tonight Ruth but we’re not going to make it – family on the way now for dinner. Bean hotpot and venison sausages. Hope the service tonight is beautiful – I know it will be. See you very soon though I hope. xoxoxox

  4. Today was supposed to be shopping for last-minute ingredients at the superstore. But the ferocious storm outside kept me much closer to home. After getting rid of the 3-in-a-row colds recently I’m far more keen on staying well. Even the fact that a new bread (I’m trying to make for breadcrumbs/stuffing) which hasn’t turned out okay doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I think I’ll survive CDay without stuffing, don’t you think? Besides, I’ve got Ivy’s tea bread to tide me over :)

    • Johnny – I’m finally catching up after days of festivities, storms, power outages, road trips, etc. Happy New Year! I am sure you mastered the stuffing – and while I’m sure you could survive Christmas very nicely without it – stuffing happens to be one of the highlights of Christmas for me. I’d rather do without the turkey than the stuffing! ;)

  5. Merry Christmas Lindy! I hope power has already been restored in your home. I really love your attitude in facing the difficulties brought upon by mother nature during this festive season. And that pound cake, it is far more yummy than any feast out there…..danny

  6. Hi Lindy! You live in a gorgeous area! I really enjoy inclement weather, especially when it shuts everything down (but hopefully not too long). Sounds like a perfect day. Your pound cake sounds wonderful. Happy New Year. :)

  7. Those icy photographs are so beautiful Lindy… amazing, seeing as I’m sitting in a sunburnt country right now trying to stay cool! The beautiful fruit pound cake reminds me of my own family’s Christmas baking in England. I live in Australia now and sadly my grandparents have passed on, however I am thankful for the memories just the same. Beautiful post. Happy new year for tomorrow! x

    • Laura – I am so behind in my blog! But thank you for this lovely comment and I can imagine what it is like in the sunburnt country – I hope the cool change has come through by now. Amidst the snow and wind chill warnings here in Canada we’ve been hearing news of the intense heat in Australia. Happy New Year to you – so pleased to have connected with you! Lindy

  8. Those photos are beautiful. I live in Montreal ans we were hit with The Ice Storm in ’98. Everything outside was just gorgeous. Wish I’d read your post before all those sleepless nights and last-minute rushes to the shops.
    Happy New Year!

    • I’m so thrilled to meet you and heading over to your blog right now. The cold broke here today – so am guessing it is improving or will soon for you too. But yes, wasn’t that ice storm beautiful? Cold and dangerous and beautiful all at once. Happy New Year to you too!

  9. What a beautiful post, Lindy. I have such a love hate relationship with ice. I love how beautiful it truly makes everything….but hate how treacherous and destructive it is. I had the same kind of day as you a couple of weeks ago during the ice storm. We were without power for just about 24 hours. I spent the day in my pajamas, on the couch, just reading through magazines, and periodically strolling from window to window watching and waiting.
    What an absolutely beautiful poundcake. Pure comfort. I’m printing the recipe as I’m typing this…
    Happy New Year to you, my new friend… I can’t wait to see what you have in store for 2014. <3

    • Oh my goodness – you are such a darling. I don’t think you’re actually that far away as the crow flies – so I’m guessing you had the storm and the recent wicked cold weather. It finally broke today and is such a relief.
      I’ve made this cake for years but i have to say – this one above was dry – I think I overcooked it. So I poked fork holes in the top and poured sherry all over it. Then it was amazing! Necessity is the mother of invention and all that….
      Happy New Year! I love a fresh start. xo

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