Can we really be a month away from the start of another calendar year?
If each day basically takes the same number of minutes to complete, why does time seem to go so slowly when you’re a child, then speed up when you’re an adult? Wasn’t summer just a week or so ago? How, then, can Christmas and the year 2018 have sneaked up on me again?
Life has taught me that I’d better get used to it. “You snooze, you lose!” Make those lists, if you haven’t already done it: there are cards and invitations to send, gifts to buy, decorations to place, and, of course, meals to plan.
If you work outside your home especially, it’s important to structure your time ahead to allow for days “off” to be sure it all gets done. (Well, actually, does it ever all get done? Not usually, even with the surge of strength that comes with the holidays but it’s important to try.)
Early in the month of December, go through your herbs and spices. Check expiration dates and give each jar and tin the time-honored “sniff test.” If it’s not as fragrant as it should be, pitch it and buy fresh. The taste and aroma of the food we put on the table is more important than using every last bit of poultry seasoning.
Use what you’ve frozen. Start meals early in the morning so they’re ready when the day’s done. Make room for baked ahead holiday cookies that you can thaw and serve at a moment’s notice. Most of the traditional ones freeze so well, it’s a shame to not get them ready for cookie exchanges and gifting early in the season.
A holiday favorite that we prepare early is the traditional rum cake. The recipe came from Bacardi decades ago. We’ve made them for so long, we’ve developed ways to tweak the original recipe to allow for nut allergies, chocoholics, and seasonal favorite flavors. You name it. Start early the time it takes to soak up that delicious rum drizzle is well worth it.
BACARDI RUM CAKE
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (if desired)
1 two layer package of yellow cake mix
1 3.4 ounce package of instant vanilla pudding mix
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup rum (or equal amount of rum extract and water)
1/4 pound (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a large bundt or tube pan.
Sprinkle chopped nuts, if you are using them, around the bottom of the prepared pan.
Mix together cake mix, dry pudding mix, eggs, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup vegetable oil and 1/2 cup rum. Pour batter over nuts. Bake in preheated oven 1 hour. Cool and invert onto serving plate. Prick top.
Melt butter in a small saucepan. Stir in 1/4 cup water and 1 cup sugar. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup rum. Pour glaze evenly over warm cake. Repeat until all glaze is absorbed.
Place cake (on the serving plate) into a jumbo (2.5 gallon) self-sealing plastic bag. Allow the cake to rest several days. Make another batch of glaze, cutting sugar by half, and pour slowly over cake.
Zip the cake into the bag, chill and store until time to serve.
Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached at email@example.com.