So yesterday I said that National Date Nut Bread was today (and it is). I was planning to celebrate as best I could. I found a recipe from the folks at King Arthur’s Flour which looked as good as any. I wrote down the ingredients that I needed (really just dates) and had it with me when I went to the grocery story. However, with the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I was really hoping that I would find a simpler solution at the store – a pre-made loaf in the bakery section. Fingers were crossed. The grocery store was packed with crazed shoppers trying to grab all their ingredients for Christmas dinner. Carts were crashing, people were fighting tug-o-war style over the last of the roast beasts, and people were stopping in the middle of aisles to browse blocking all from passing. It was shopping chaos. Still, I was ready for this.
I think people blocking the aisle is my biggest pet peeve about grocery shopping. For some reason, people have no perception of space and of what’s happening around them. They’ll head straight down the aisle and if they see what they are looking for, they will leave the cart in the exact middle of the aisle and then block the only passable passage with their own person as they try to select their item not allowing anyone else to pass. It drives me nuts. I wish shopping carts had horns built into them (or thicker bumpers). I’d speed up my shopping by 25%. The worse is when you say excuse me and you don’t get an immediate apology. You get a look, usually over reading glasses perched on tips of noses along with an up-down before a reaction is made. They’re usually annoyed that you dared ask them to be considerate. I’m a fan of leaving my cart parked to the side (out of the way) in one area and walking up to find my item. Granted most people can’t do that if they have a purse in the cart, but it makes it easy for me. I’ve left my cart four aisles over and walked to get something else in a complete other section. I find it quite freeing.
In any case, the bakery section was full of all kinds of tasty treats and goods, undoubtedly beefed up for the holidays. I began my search and found all kind of homemade loaves (banana bread, pound cake, coffee cake), but I was coming up short on the Date Nut Bread. I looked in the bread aisle too hoping that the folks at Pepperidge Farm or at Arnold’s had some kind of version, but alas my search came up empty. I was going to have to make one. I had a hundred other things to do today, but a quest is a quest and I was not going to let this one slip by. I pulled out my phone and read through the recipe again. That’s when I realized it started to sound familiar. Very familiar. I did a quick search on my blog (a lot of research happening in the bakery corner today) and lo and behold, I celebrated National Date Nut Bread Day back 0n September 8th. Remember? That’s when I learned the word drupe. That was a day that my usual holiday site listed three holidays that were hard to celebrate (National Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses Day, National Ampersand Day & Stand Up To Cancer Day). I found another site that listed it as Date Nut Bread Day. That’s what I made. I even used the exact recipe that I was going to use today.
I had to make a quick call as a stood there on my phone in the middle of the grocery store, my vanilla ice cream daring me to take more time. I looked for other holidays and the first thing I saw was that December is National Fruitcake Month. That makes sense, and as serendipity would have it, there was a fruitcake staring back at me at that exact moment. I tossed it in the cart and had found direction for my celebration.
I had a full cart and the lines at the check out were two or three people deep. It is what it is and everyone was doing their best, so I just got in line and waited patiently. When it was time to check out, there was a lady on the register and a lady bagging and they couldn’t have been nicer. I appreciate that especially on a day that had to be pure hell for them – they were making the best of it. They had nice little comments about some of the items I was buying (“that smells good” or “that looks fun”). She looked at the wafer cookies I bought and she told me that her family puts whipped cream in between them which was a nice little tip (my plan is to put some ice cream in between them – if it survives). It just made me feel good and I appreciated the holiday spirit.
When I got home, I got to cooking and made a quick double batch of fudge. I’m really getting fast at making fudge, or efficient. After that was ready, I finally got to make tacos which I had been hoping for taco night for the last three days. It was well worth the wait. After clean up, I made a couple of other things and got a start on some of the things we will need over the next few days. Then it was time relax. We had White Christmas on television, so I sat down with a nice piece of fruitcake to enjoy with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. I naturally asked Lola if she wanted some and she was not so interested.
Fruitcake isn’t as bad as it’s reputation would make you think. It’s different. It’s really dense. Almost heavy. But it’s chock full of flavors. In my first bite I saw that a maraschino cherry was coming, so I braced myself. That’s probably the worse part – the present of rubbery fake fruit. Otherwise, it’s a bread that’s a tad bit bitter but the sweetness of the fruit and the marinade (or whatever it is soaked in) overcomes that. The nuts add some great flavor and texture too. Really, it’s not as bad as you think. If a food fight ever broke out at the dessert table, I’d grab the fruitcake as my weapon of choice because it’s that heavy. You could knock someone out with it. But if you are eating it civilly watching a holiday movie, it’s a nice little taste of cheer, and really not all that different than a date nut bread.
I can’t believe I almost had a repeat today. My mind must be fading. Nonetheless, I turned it around and ended up being able to celebrate with a festive holiday food. Lots to do over the next few days, so I learned the lesson of just rolling with it. We’ll get through this together. Just show some kindness to others, learn how to operate a shopping cart, be kind to yourself, and if you end up having to eat fruitcake at the end of the day, it’s really not as bad as you would think. Cheers!
Next Up: Festivus for the Rest of Us!