The other day as I was procrastinating, I mean doing research for this column, I came across a quiz that tested one’s knowledge of food in holiday songs. Here are a few questions that I remember (see answers below):
1. What did Grandma drink too much of before she got run over by a reindeer?
2. In “Let it Snow,” what is the food item and how are they going to prepare it?
3. In “The Christmas Song,” what’s roasting on an open fire? What other food item is mentioned?
4. The quiz left out some of my favorite food references from the “Grinch.” Name three food items.
And, of course, we have the following:
We wish you a Merry Christmas; We wish you a Merry Christmas …
Now, bring us some figgy pudding! Now, bring us some figgy pudding! Now, bring us some figgy pudding and bring some out here!
We won’t go until we get some!
We won’t go until we get some!
We won’t go until we get some, so bring it right here!
So people come to your door, wish you a merry Christmas, then demand figgy pudding and don’t plan to leave until you bring it. That’s flat out holiday extortion. You know they are serious because they repeat it three times. The gall!
I’ve never been exactly sure what figgy pudding is, but have always loved the lengths that people purportedly go just to get some. I pictured people clad in winter gear, holding a cup of pudding and trying to maneuver their spoons while wearing mittens. Turns out figgy pudding is more of a cake, so may easily be eaten by bundled up, caroling extortionists.
Figgy pudding is a nice break from all the cloyingly sweet treats that I certainly eat quite a bit of this time of year. It’s a moist, spiced, bread-like cake. The flavor deepens as it ages; so make it a couple of days before you plan to eat it. For an extra treat, top each slice with a dollop of whipped cream.
2 cups dried figs (about 1 pound), stems removed, chopped fine
1/4 cup bourbon
1/4 cup water
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup molasses
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup milk
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
- Chop dried figs and place in medium-sized bowl. Pour bourbon and warm water over fruit and let sit, preferably overnight, but an hour will do.
- Grease and flour a bunt pan or loaf pan. This cake has a tendency to stick, so grease it well. You can also line the pan with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg; set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs and molasses and beat again. Mix in the dried fruit (with liquid if any), lemon peel, milk and walnuts.
- Mix in dried ingredients.
- Bake at 325º F for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Makes 12 to 14 servings.
Answers to the above quiz:
2. Corn for popping.
3. Chestnuts; turkey.
4. Bad banana with a greasy black peal; garlic; dead tomato splot with moldy purple spots; three-decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich with arsenic sauce.