Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Recipes 'n Reads: Margaret Hanna Shares Her Family Recipe for Christmas Cake and Her Grandparents' Stories, Searching for Home #ChristmasCake #DarkFruitCake #SearchingForHome #FamilyRecipe #recipesnreads


Recipes 'n Reads Series
Guest author Margaret Hanna

Please welcome my friend and memoirist, Margaret Hanna, to the Recipes 'n Reads series which is scheduled every third Wednesday of the month. Margaret shares one of her favorite recipes and the reasons why she chose this particular one. Plus she has brought along the book about her grandparents.

I am thrilled to have Margaret join me today. I agree with her when she wrote in her blog on December 3, "I know the importance of recording your life’s story. I have written (and published) both my maternal and paternal grandparents’ stories, and have lost count of the number of times I wanted to ask them “Why?” or “When?” or “What happened next?” There was no one to ask – they were long since deceased.

We are both advocates for everyone to write their life stories!

Click here to read Margaret's article on her blog, Writing Your Spiritual Journey.

Thank you, Margaret, for sharing your Grandma Higham's Dark Fruit Cake Recipe with us. I love the stories you tell about the cake and your traditions.


Dark fruit cake, aka “Christmas cake” – some people love it, some people hate it. I’m in the former category and can’t understand why anyone could hate something so rich and so filled with fruit and nuts and so soaked in brandy or rum or sherry or (as in our teetotalling house while Dad was alive) apple juice.

Christmas Fruit Cake
Image by pixel1 from Pixabay

Grandma Higham’s Dark Fruit Cake Recipe

1 lb Br sugar

1 lb of butter

2 lb raisins

1 lb mixed peel

¼ lb cherries

2 tbs lemon, vanilla, almond & rose water extract

10 beaten eggs

2 tsp Baking powder

2 lbs currants

¼ lb blanched almonds

2 pineapple rings

4 cups of flour

Beat eggs one by one

Bake in slow oven 3 hrs

Mary Louisa Higham
I chose this recipe because it is one of only four recipes I have from my maternal grandmother, Mary Louisa Higham. We made one or the other of her dark fruit cake recipes each year, usually in early November.

 Grandma Higham, born in 1885, was of the era when you were supposed to know how to cook and bake, sans recipe. Hence the minimal directions: “beat eggs one by one” written on the margin (I don’t know why that would be important), and “bake in slow oven” (you do know how hot a “slow oven” is, don’t you?). And all this done with a wood-fired cook stove.

I don’t know if our family traditions surrounding Christmas cake also came from her, but we had two. The first was that everyone had to take a turn stirring the thick, cement-like batter to ensure good luck in the coming year. Inevitably, the wooden spoon broke. I don’t know if that also ensured good luck, but we certainly went through a lot of wooden spoons over the years. That is, until my brother suggested we mix the batter in the Mill & Mix*. No more broken spoons thereafter, and I don’t think we had any less good luck.

 We also believed that, for each piece of Christmas cake eaten (from different cakes, of course), you would have one month of good luck. I don’t know if it’s true, but why take the chance?

 Whether you are a Christmas cake lover or a Christmas cake hater, Merry Christmas to those who celebrate Christmas and Happy Holidays to those who celebrate something else.


Searching for Home by Margaret G. Hanna
Memoir: the story of the author’s maternal grandmother


“Where do I belong?”

In 1912, Mary Louisa Appleton is 27 years old and a domestic servant in Cornwall, England. She sees no future there, so she accepts employment with a family returning to Alberta, Canada. It is the land of unlimited opportunity, or so she has heard.

Once in Canada, Mary faces the dilemma of all immigrants – where does she belong?

 She is conflicted: her body is in Canada but her heart is in England. She longs to return to England but wars, marriage, children, the Dirty Thirties, and economic circumstances conspire to keep her in Canada.

Then she faces a crisis, and she has to decide. Is “home” where her heart is, or where she resides?

Searching for Home is the story of the author’s maternal grandmother as she struggles to find her place in Canada.


Major Online Booksellers in eBook format

Amazon  Canada eBook and Paperback

Amazon US eBook and Paperback

Smashwords eBooks on sale through January 1, 2024



Margaret G. Hanna
 author of Canadian historical novels.

Margaret G. Hanna grew up on the farm her paternal grandfather homesteaded in 1908 in southwestern Saskatchewan. After 12 years of university, she worked as a professional archaeologist, first on several short-term contracts in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta, and finally as Curator of Aboriginal History at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, Regina. She retired in 2007 and moved to Airdrie AB where she lives with her husband and no pets.

She now uses her research skills to explore family and prairie history. For Margaret, writing is a portal to another dimension of reality. When she isn’t struggling to write, she gardens, reads, and sews. Her dream is one day to master the 5-string banjo, claw-hammer style.

Margaret is a member of the Airdrie Writers Group, Women Writing the West, and the Writers’ Guild of Alberta. She participates annually in Voice and Vision, a collaboration between artists and writers in the Airdrie area.


Her blog, Prairie Perspective 


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Thank you for stopping by today! And for clicking around this post!!

Wishing you hope, peace, joy and love during this holiday season and throughout the New Year 2024!


J.Q. Rose said...

Margaret--Thank you so much for sharing your fruit cake recipe! I am one of those people who really likes fruit cake--homemade that is. Best wishes on your writing projects!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for sharing your grandma's fruitcake recipe, Margaret.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I don't think I've ever heard of rose water extract. That's a unique ingredient.

J.Q. Rose said...

Natalie--Thanks for stopping by. I'd like to try and make this some day.

J.Q. Rose said...

Diane--Unique ingredient to me too.

keven john said...

The influence of books on shaping perspectives, fostering empathy, and instigating change. How words on paper have the power to inspire, educate, and challenge societal norms.I provide an online the best dissertation writing service Uk to help the students at a cheap rate.

keven john said...

Recipe for fruit cake!political science essay help I'm one of those folks who like handmade fruit cakes a lot. I hope your literary endeavours go well!

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