The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 12.03.02


Poor Martha plus Sweet & Spicy Fruitcake

Poor Martha, not only is her stock value eroding due to allegations related to some shares that she recently sold, she is the constant subject of e-mailed jokes of the day.

The Internet does have its uses after all. It seems that at the very least, one of the information highway's main purposes is for the transmission of jokes and other bits of trivia. Once an interesting item is posted on the Web, its reach is far. For the millions of people who have the 'Net at home, a good joke arriving by e-mail can brighten up a day. Now that's what I call networking.

This offering came across cyberspace and landed firmly at my door. It got my attention and apparently, someone's at the national daily newspaper as well. They reprinted a portion of what was described as Martha Stewart's holiday calendar. Here are a few of the food-related projects that, according to an anonymous author, Martha will be doing in December.

As the following recipe benefits from sitting around for a couple of weeks, I thought I would deliver it early. I also thought readers might enjoy posting Martha's holiday craft projects on their fridge for inspiration. This will allow enough time to get started on some of them.

  • Dec. 13: Collect dentures, they make excellent pastry cutters, particularly for decorative piecrusts.

  • Dec. 14: Install plumbing in gingerbread house.

  • Dec. 19: Adjust legs of chairs so each Christmas dinner guest will be same height when sitting at his or her assigned seat.

  • Dec. 20: Dip sheep and cows in egg whites and roll in confectionery sugar to add a festive sparkle to the pasture.

  • Dec. 21: Drain city reservoir; refill with malted cider, orange slices and cinnamon sticks.

  • Dec. 26: Organize spice racks by genus and phylum.
So, there you have some colorful Christmas ideas, courtesy of the Web.

Now on to more serious matters, although the following recipe is also a little nutty, if not fruity. Give this as a holiday gift to spice things up.


3 cups chopped walnuts
2 cups chopped dried figs
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1 cup chocolate chips
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/3 cup fruit jelly (apple is good)
2 tbsp grated orange peel
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tsp hot pepper sauce
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease two 3-cup ovenproof bowls. Line bottoms and sides with foil; grease foil.

In a large bowl, combine walnuts, figs, apricots, chocolate chips, and 1/4 cup flour and mix well.

In a small bowl, mix at low speed, sugar, eggs and butter until well blended. Add remaining ingredients, including flour. Beat until blended. Toss mixture with dried fruits and nuts in large bowl. Spoon into prepared bowls and cover with greased foil.

Bake 40 minutes; uncover and bake another 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove to wire racks and cool.

Brush cooled fruitcakes with melted fruit jelly and sprinkle each cake with finely chopped dried apricots. Store in cool place for up to three weeks.