Home Open Account Help 232 users online

Railroaders' Nostalgia > A holiday tale....but be careful with the fruitcake


Date: 12/10/20 11:58
A holiday tale....but be careful with the fruitcake
Author: cewherry

As we approach that very special day of the year I am reminded of an experience that was amusing, after
the fact, to my engineer and myself....maybe not so much to one of our brakemen.

When I was growing up in my mother's home, during the holidays she would bake fruitcakes. Contrary to
most baby-boomers who, when hearing the word 'fruitcake' feign a gagging reaction and when asked about
their theatrics respond with something about the only good use for a fruitcake is as a door-stop or some other
deprecating remark, I actually enjoy them.   After marrying I found a recipe for Northern Pacific Fruitcake--Dark 
in Will Hollister's book Dinner in the Diner and continued the tradition in my home.  Perhaps travelers aboard NP's
cars at the time the recipe was developed had stronger 'constitutions' and were able to enjoy it without experiencing,
shall I say the 'gastric distress' that often follows eating too much, too quickly. I learned  this firsthand early in my
baking experience and attribute it to the generous amount of butter, fruit and nuts that go into its mixture.
I soon learned to enjoy this cake with moderation and I suppose one of the reasons my family hasn't embraced this
holiday tradition is the richness of its ingredients. 
 
One Christmas in the early 1980's I was working as fireman on one of Burlington Northern's "crew" jobs,
(BN's terminology for a local freight run), between Seattle's Balmer yard and Tacoma, WA. The job at the time
was manned by former Northern Pacific trainmen and enginemen and one day, in conversation, I asked if any  
of the crew remembered the NP tradition of fruitcakes served in their dining cars during the holidays.
"Oh, sure" said one, "I remember stories about them; never had any, but I remember the stories". Thus planted the idea.

That night I retrieved one of the cakes of that years crop, (the recipe made 4), from its storage place, wrapped in a
clean tea-towel, beneath the kitchen counter. After cutting about 8 thick slabs (you don't cut fruitcake thinly) and wrapping
in foil, I went to bed, confident these former NP 'rails' would be delighted to share a piece of NP 'history' the next day. 

At the roundhouse the next morning while awaiting the arrival of our brakeman I proudly unwrapped the slices and offered the 
engineer a 'slab'. As he reached for the treat I made the comment; "I should warn you, this is very rich; the recipe calls 
for a pound of butter and all the candied fruit, too". As the engineer is enjoying the cake the brakeman enters the cab and, of course,
I offer a slice to him with the same words of caution. Both are delighted and express their gratitude. We get on our train and depart. 

As we approach North Portal on Seattle's waterfront, the brakeman, who was sitting ahead of me turns around and says: "Hey, do you have
any more of that fruitcake?". Of course, he knows I have more. He saw my cache when he climbed on the engine back at the
roundhouse. I reach into my grip, present him with another slice and take the opportunity to repeat my earlier warning adding: "Be careful,
this is pretty potent". He nods his thanks and within three bites the cake is down his gullet.

We exit the tunnel beneath downtown Seattle at South Portal and there is a hand throw switch ahead that needs to be lined....but not before the 
brakeman turns again and asks for slice number three. Once again, I'm compelled to remind him. Once again, the fruitcake is inhaled.
Next stop is South Seattle yard to make a pick-up.

As the brakeman rises to exit the front of the cab, a loud 'crack' is heard by all. "Oh, oh" moans the brakeman. Yep, you guessed it. 
I will only add; the brakeman rode the rear unit, (thankfully we had two), to Tacoma and back home to Seattle. 

Merry Christmas to all.

Charlie
 



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 12/11/20 06:57 by cewherry.



Date: 12/10/20 15:13
Re: A holiday tale....but be careful with the fruitcake
Author: Westbound

Not sure I catch your meaning, but if I do... On the SP, at the Oakland, CA  Division HQ, you had to pass through the Engineering Dept to reach the men’s room. One of the guys who worked in that department held a public elected office (which I will not name to avoid identifying him). He had a habit of nibbling for hours on whatever food item he brought to work. It was one of those days he brought dried apricots to the office and one of his fellow workers called me aside to watch what our man was doing. I hung around for a little while and noted that he was almost like a chain smoker as he kept slipping those tasty little snacks into his mouth. 

That afternoon I walked back over there and the same guy pointed out to me that the snacker was not at his desk, but shortly he exited the men’s room, where he was now making regular visits thanks to the little bag of dried fruit that had gone empty. As a teenager I had worked in the dried fruit industry and long knew that one should not eat too many in one day. The best place for them is chopped and placed into the fruit cake batter. Yep, I love fruitcake.



Date: 12/10/20 16:56
Re: A holiday tale....but be careful with the fruitcake
Author: WAF

OK, I get it. Charlie's brakeman crapped his pants getting up



Date: 12/10/20 17:15
Re: A holiday tale....but be careful with the fruitcake
Author: cewherry

WAF Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> OK, I get it. Charlie's brakeman crapped his pants
> getting up

Indeed, he did. Been there, done that!

Charlie



Date: 12/11/20 15:19
Re: A holiday tale....but be careful with the fruitcake
Author: trainjunkie

Good fruitcake is not so easy to find but if you do, it is best used for soaking up copious amounts of brandy prior to consumption. Delicious, but it's the kind of cake that will put you in foul of Rule G (or 1.5). 



Date: 12/11/20 17:14
Re: A holiday tale....but be careful with the fruitcake
Author: 2-10-2

There is but one, singlular, World Famous fruitcake. Collin St. Corsicana, TX
https://collinstreet.com/buy-fruitcake-online
My family would receive one annually from my grandmother down in Thornton, TX in nearby Limestone County. Over time, I was the only family member that truly enjoyed them, and until just a few years ago, my father continued to send me one.



Date: 12/11/20 17:53
Re: A holiday tale....but be careful with the fruitcake
Author: TAW

trainjunkie Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Good fruitcake is not so easy to find but if you
> do, it is best used for soaking up copious amounts
> of brandy prior to consumption. Delicious, but
> it's the kind of cake that will put you in foul of
> Rule G (or 1.5). 

That was my initial thought.

TAW



Date: 12/11/20 18:43
Re: A holiday tale....but be careful with the fruitcake
Author: cewherry

TAW Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> trainjunkie Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Good fruitcake is not so easy to find but if
> you
> > do, it is best used for soaking up copious
> amounts
> > of brandy prior to consumption. Delicious, but
> > it's the kind of cake that will put you in foul
> of
> > Rule G (or 1.5). 
>
> That was my initial thought.
>
> TAW

The original recipe calls for, among other things, 12 whole eggs and one oz. each port and sherry.
Never fear; I 'legalized' the recipe by leaving out the wines before bringing it on the property. 

CEW



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/11/20 18:49 by cewherry.



Date: 12/11/20 20:09
Re: A holiday tale....but be careful with the fruitcake
Author: PHall

cewherry Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> TAW Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > trainjunkie Wrote:
> >
> --------------------------------------------------
>
> > -----
> > > Good fruitcake is not so easy to find but if
> > you
> > > do, it is best used for soaking up copious
> > amounts
> > > of brandy prior to consumption. Delicious,
> but
> > > it's the kind of cake that will put you in
> foul
> > of
> > > Rule G (or 1.5). 
> >
> > That was my initial thought.
> >
> > TAW
>
> The original recipe calls for, among other things,
> 12 whole eggs and one oz. each port and sherry.
> Never fear; I 'legalized' the recipe by leaving
> out the wines before bringing it on the
> property. 
>
> CEW

I wouldn't have worried about it. The heat from baking boiled off the alcohol.



Date: 12/12/20 00:28
Re: A holiday tale....but be careful with the fruitcake
Author: wpamtk

2-10-2 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> There is but one, singlular, World Famous
> fruitcake. Collin St. Corsicana, TX
> https://collinstreet.com/buy-fruitcake-online
> My family would receive one annually from my
> grandmother down in Thornton, TX in nearby
> Limestone County. Over time, I was the only family
> member that truly enjoyed them, and until just a
> few years ago, my father continued to send me one.

Been getting one of those every holiday season for years--but just one.



Date: 12/13/20 08:17
Re: A holiday tale....but be careful with the fruitcake
Author: trainjunkie

Veering off topic a bit but for those of you in So Cal who actually like fruitcake, I highly recommend King's Hawaiian Bakery in Torrance. They have two varieties, traditional and a "Hawaiian version" that uses tropical fruits and macadamia nuts. Both are generous with the amount of fruit and nuts, the hallmark of a good fruitcake. I like the traditional one myself. Or, I used to before I eliminated most carbs from my diet.



Date: 12/15/20 14:39
Re: A holiday tale....but be careful with the fruitcake
Author: tbdbitl

I have not had to worry about rule G, but I do remember one year when my wife made Rum Balls for me to take into my office at an insurance company I worked for.  They included real Rum, and were not baked, so they had some real medicinal benefits.   The lady who was supervisor of the unit next to ours started tasting our cookies (there were more than just the Rum Balls), and zeroed in on the Rum Ballls.   BEfore long she was feeling no pain, and welll into the Christmas Spirit. 

JWL



Date: 12/22/20 20:01
Re: A holiday tale....but be careful with the fruitcake
Author: wabash2800

Fruitcake can last a long time...

NEW ENGLAND FOLKLORE: America's Oldest Fruitcake



Date: 12/23/20 12:52
Re: A holiday tale....but be careful with the fruitcake
Author: PHall

wabash2800 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Fruitcake can last a long time...
>
> NEW ENGLAND FOLKLORE: America's Oldest Fruitcake

Fruitcakes have the same shelf life as Hostess Twinkies. Somewhere between 1 and 2 thousand years. Give or take...



[ Share Thread on Facebook ] [ Search ] [ Start a New Thread ] [ Back to Thread List ] [ <Newer ] [ Older> ] 
Page created in 0.0669 seconds