Fortunately, the weather has been subzero and still snowing, so we spend more time indoors lately. My son, Bill, and his family have been without power for nearly four days, while he’s been sick with COVID. (Yes, he’s vaccinated and boostered.) Luckily, he was only really sick for two days and grandson, Mason, was a big help, getting the generator up and running so they could power the fridge, freezer, and LP fireplace fan. They came through the outage quite well but I’m sure they were happy to get the power back on.

The last snow we got is still here, with six more inches and subzero temperatures on the way.
The wet, heavy snow is only an inconvenience for us but has caused big power outages, buildings to collapse, and trees to block roadways.

One of our favorite holiday foods is a fruitcake I try to make every year. My friend Jeri gave me the recipe years ago and Will swears by it, saying it tastes like the one his grandma used to make. It’s quite a different fruitcake, in that you make it in a 9×12-inch cake pan, then cut it into bars after it has been turned out to cool. I’ll give you the recipe so you can give it a try if you’d like. Here it is:

2 bags of mixed candied fruit peels
2 cups nuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup golden raisins
6 eggs
¼ cup orange juice (I used Tang drink, mixed)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F. Lightly grease or spray a cake pan, then lay waxed paper in it so it is long enough to hang out both ends and go up the sides as far as possible. In a large mixing bowl (I use my stand mixer bowl, in the mixer), beat eggs, orange juice, and vanilla. Gently add the sugar, then mix in the flour, baking powder, salt, and the rest of the ingredients. Mix very well. Then, pour out into your cake pan, making sure the waxed paper remains in place. Bake for 2 or more hours until just firm. Take from oven and cool for about half an hour. Put a cookie sheet on top of pan and flip it over so the fruitcake drops out onto the cookie pan. Cool completely, then cut into bars the width you desire. Individually wrapped in aluminum foil or plastic wrap, they remain good for weeks and make great small gifts. (I always buy my candied fruit peels and other specialized holiday baking supplies after Christmas. I get them very cheap then!)

We can’t wait for the World’s Best Fruitcake to cool enough to eat!

By the way, let me share a way we save lots of money and have some great meals without resorting to the same-old leftovers. I buy half of a boneless pork loin (a bigger family might want a whole one). This, I roast in the oven, along with potatoes, onions, and carrots. This gives us the first nice meal, with some nice pork gravy over the potatoes. The second meal, I thinly slice some of the roasted loin then pull it apart and simmer with barbecue sauce. Served on a bun with some fried potatoes alongside, we have a happy second meal. The third meal is sliced, cold pork loin with a cheese slice, served on the remaining buns (homemade are best!), with a bit of mayonnaise and a sprinkle of honey-mesquite rub over the meat. The fourth meal is diced pork, sliced carrots, diced potatoes, peas, onions, and a can of cream of mushroom soup + ½ a can of milk, mixed and put into a pie crust, with a vented top crust placed over it. This makes a fabulous pork pie! If you’re lucky, you have just a little of that loin left over which you can dice finely and add to an omelet with veggies and cheese, making another great, filling meal. My half pork loin cost $7.89, on sale, so you can see how cheaply you can eat really good meals from only one piece of meat. Yup, I’m cheap and proud of it! — Jackie

39 COMMENTS

  1. Merry Christmas to you, Jackie and your family.

    I love fruitcake so will be trying this recipe. Thanks for sharing. One question though — what is the size of the bags of the mixed peels? Here in my area, mixed peel only comes in plastic tubs of various sizes. No idea how much a bag of mixed peels is in size.

  2. Getting ready for the weather here at my house. Plenty of firewood, fuel for generator (no electricity = no water), and we won’t starve. Set up a tote shelter for the stray cat, now if he will go into it. It is right next to where I feed him (giving him wet and dry since it is now cold).
    Weather has pushed back arrival of one kiddo/in-law. Made it clear, safety first so we’ll see what pans out. Amount of predicted snow is manageable but winds will be the concern.
    I chuckled when I heard this term and most of you will too I’m sure. Turning leftovers into an entirely different meal is called rollover(s).

  3. A very blessed Christmas to you, Will and your family Jackie! The sheet pan Christmas cake recipe looks like a winner to me and I’ll definitely be baking it. I love your extending meals with the pork loin- in these tough economic times these kinds of creative meal stretchers are the answer. My grandmother and mother knew how to do this and I’m so fortunate to have learned these skills from them.My very dear Mom died last month at 102 and what a resilient and amazing woman she was! I feel so blessed to have learned skills from her and my Grandma that serve me well as a now single pensioner. We have snow and very chilly temps here in the PNW currently- not cold for many of you but definitely for us! It’s been beautiful sunshine and fluffy snow the last two days and what a treat! It reminds me of my childhood in the interior of my province.
    I wish you and Will and the family all the best for 2023.

    • Have a very Merry and Blessed Christmas too, Robyn! I, too, am fortunate to have learned from my mom, who lived into her 90’s and grandmother. I think it’s fun, thinking of ways to save money, yet put tasty meals on the table!

  4. Sorry to hear Bill has/had COVID. I finally got it after two years but felt that my shots/boosters were the reason it was mild and short-lived. They did their job.

    I love your use of the pork, Jackie, and that’s how I learned to cook/plan food from my depression era parents. I was thrilled to get a good sale on ham and have planned out my left over meals as well. It can go a long way…even after I send the Christmas guests home with leftovers! Ham and scalloped potatoes, ham and egg casserole…but by far my favorite is using that ham bone for soup. Nothing like it! Even my bean-hating brother likes the bean soup made with the ham bone.

    Stay safe in these cold temperatures! Jen

    • God bless that ham bone! Will loves nothing better than bean soup made with a meaty ham bone!
      Bill got over the COVID ills in two days, thanks to his vaccinations and boosters. I’m very thankful!!

  5. Merry Christmas, Jackie! I love to bake and this year I tried my hand at pannetone. Didn’t have any candied orange peel, so I made some from tangerines we had on hand. It turned out very well even though I used half whole wheat flour but it was still nice and light.

    It’s about to get really cold here and I’m afraid I’ll lose my nice rosemary shrub. Picking the last of the sage leaves today for pumpkin risotto.

    Love that country living!

    • Merry Christmas to you too, Mardell. We thank God every single day for being able to live the live we do! We had -31 last night. But the wood stoves kept us toasty.

  6. Jackie, you’re a penny pinching cook after my own heart and I’m proud of it too! We’re headed into the deep freeze down here and that will probably mean the end of the fall/winter garden. Things are covered but probably not enough for temps in the teens. Time to plan the spring garden. Wishing you, Will and the whole family a merry and safe Christmas!

    • And a very Merry Christmas to you too! I look though my gardening photos and can’t wait until I start planting seeds again.

  7. Doing my Christmas baking, too. 8 kinds of cookies for our homeless Christmas party, down from a dozen last year. Glad I have them to cook for, as I’m pushing my diet to enjoy 1 of each.

    • I’m so happy you think of others at Christmas. Many are homeless through no fault of their own and don’t deserve to be treated like leppers. I’m sure they will all enjoy your cookies and thoughtfulness.

      • We had a blast last night. Cold weather rolling in today. Handed out gloves, coats, hats, scarves, blankets, Christmas goodies, a hot meal, and cookies! Hoping everyone stays warm for the next few days. 80s for the New Year.

  8. No one around here is getting any eggs so this recipe from WWll is my go to for fruit cake. Boiled Raisin Cake, [recipe used to be on the raisin box] uses no eggs and calls for butter and lard, raisins, cloves, cinnamon, hot water, baking soda, sugar and flour. By cutting back on the raisins and adding candied fruit and nuts it makes a dark, moist cake that keeps well as long as you don’t store it in plastic. My bunch can eat it faster than I can make it. It would get better with age but never last that long around here. Wishing Merry Christmas and Good Health to all.

  9. Thanks for the fruitcake recipe. I make a similar one but never thought of the cake pan. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas. Not looking forward to the forecasted snow!
    katherine jordahl

  10. I love beef stew but stew meat is ridiculously expensive. I bought a tip roast and cut it into stew meat and froze in packages sized for one pot of stew. The tip roast was on sale for $2.99 per pound and stew meat was $4+ per pound. One pot of stew makes at least four meals for me. The end cost per pound of stew meat was around $2.

  11. Hey there, the snow pictures are beautiful. It looks like a professional postcard. I love your ideas on saving and stretching money. I save my leftover vegetables that I cook each night and make a veg soup or sometimes with leftover meat after 4 or 5 days. I also make the fruit cake but I use dehydrated fruit that I soak in apple juice (or spiced rum) and make my fruit cakes. That way my cake has all the fruits that my family likes. I use maraschino cherries, raisins, toasted pecans, blueberries, mangos, etc. Whatever they like. Stay warm and eat well!

  12. Merry Christmas! We’re going to have a blizzard here in the next few days. The food sounds delicious. I do enjoy the “shut” in days. It forces me to do things I’ve neglected. But there will be snow to plow and chores to do. It’s a white Christmas. Question: can you fatten roosters. We hatched too many of them and I’m feeding extra ground corn. I see little change in their size. I separated them from the hens.

  13. I’m glad Bill is feeling better and had power from the generator to keep things going at his place. No doubt their happy to have power back now.
    I’m right with you in making meals from what you start with from a meat for instance and making some tasty meals that are beyond boring leftovers.
    Thanks for sharing this fruit cake recipe that was shared with you. Sounds delicious and I know Will is enjoying this. I look forward to make it!
    Stay warm and cozy there and enjoy all that baking your doing ahead.
    I hope you all have a wonderful and enjoyable Christmas.

  14. Merry Christmas To you and Will!

    Lots of prep going on here for the storm again this week. We lost power last week but only for 12 hours. Some went days. I am just thankful we got it back. We’ve had two calves in the last week, which is a little later than normal. We are just praying none come in the hard cold.

    Thanks for the tip on pork. We lost a freezer of pork over thanksgiving and to say I was sickened when I opened it and it was all bad is an understatement. 20lbs of bacon alone, on top of all the other types of cuts. Just too bad. I had to buy bacon for the first time in years, and I am certainly bummed about it. But those loin recipes sounds awesome. I had a few extra big cuts in a different freezer so I’ll try those out. Pork pie sounds different but really good. After having surgery two weeks ago, everything has been considerably slower for me. I get tired out very fast doing simple things and sore trying to do normal things around the house. Smart tricks are always welcome here! Thanks again for being so awesome Jackie.

  15. Hi Jackie! Are you sure you didn’t mean to say put ‘parchment paper’ in your cake pan instead of waxed paper? I’m a cake decorator and I always use parchment paper when baking my cakes, never waxed paper. But I’m not adverse to learn something new! 😊

    • Hi Kris,
      I’m not Jackie but many years ago when I was young and started baking I always used waxed paper for my cake pans. That’s all everyone used as far as I know. I had never heard of parchment paper back then. I can see though how good parchment would be so I will try that next time!

  16. Oh Jackie thank you for all those wonderful pork ok in ideas I must say I’ve done all of them just noticing my brain lol.merriest of Christmas to you and will please hug David for me.I miss the old days on the Mnt. In Mt. Xoxo

  17. Thank you for the great cooking ideas. This year for the first time, I got some green tomatoes from a community garden that is going to close down and made a mincemeat pie and canned the rest of the mincement. It really does my heart good to take advantage of what is available free (or cheap) not only to make something out of the product, but to can the leftovers. Have a Merry Christmas.

  18. Hope you son is better soon. So many I know are sick right now with RSV and Covid. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas.

  19. You said you’re cheap and proud of it. I say you’re smart and I am proud to know you. Merry Christmas!

  20. Thank you for the family fruitcake recipe and menu tips … I love that! Merry Christmas to you and Will!! Look forward to seeing you soon.

  21. Merry Christmas Jackie and Will and your wonderful family. Thank you for the recipe and for the way to stretch a meal. Your not cheap, just smart.

  22. Merry Christmas, Jackie, to you and your family. I enjoy all of your blogs. I don’t think I ever miss one. I hope your New Year is prosperous and healthy for all of you. Deb

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