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Jeff Houck

The Tampa Tribune’s food writer since 2005, Jeff Houck covers the way people live through their food. He also hosts the Table Conversations food podcast and believes that everything crunchy is good.

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It’s Fruitcake Haiku Poetry Time [After 61 Years, Mrs. Harvey’s White Fruitcake Still Inspires]

Posted Nov 25, 2012 by Jeff Houck

Updated Nov 25, 2012 at 10:22 AM

Mrs. Lucille Harvey


Every year since 1951, the recipe for Lucille Harvey‘s white fruitcake has run in The Tampa Tribune the first Sunday after Thanksgiving. This year we continue with this tradition. (You can find the recipe at the bottom of this post.)

What’s the traditional gift for a 61st anniversary? Candlesticks always make a nice gift. So do envelopes of cash.

But we digress.

As we’ve done every year since 2006, we once again invite readers to celebrate the anniversary through the creative use of fruitcake-themed haiku.

For those who are unfamiliar, haiku is a Japanese form of three-line poetry in which the first line has five phonetic syllables, followed by a second line with seven syllables and a third line with another five syllables. It’s a form that lends itself better to the kind of sarcasm fruitcake tends to generate.

Need inspiration? Here is the 2006 winner from Ona Weber of Zephyrhills, who had never before written a haiku poem:

Fruitcakes are nutty,

although the one I married

is much nuttier!

The top haiku in 2007 was written by Camila Sainz de la Pena of Tampa, who went all dark and moody in tone. Perhaps the dark and foreboding fruitcake led her to write this:

Black cherries, sugar -

the existential fruitcake

knows his life is fluff.

The home cook living inside the soul of Doris Hertz of Apollo Beach informed her victorious prose in 2008:

Chop, dredge, cream, beat, sift,

Fold, stir, blend, grease, line, pour, cool;

Five pounds of fruitcake.

Roger Allen of Tampa took the trophy in 2009 by playing with seasonal icons:

Fruitcake fairy dance

Tchaikovsky spins in casket

Nutcracker breaks jaw

Erin Renouf MylroieIn 2011, the trophy went out of state, this time to Erin Renouf Mylroie of Santa Clara, Utah (pictured at right). She posed this rhetorical question:

Oh sweet pumpkin pie

Would it really matter

If I become fatter?

What direction should you take to follow the path of victory for 2012?

Read all of these fantastic examples. Then add lots of funny, throw in a pinch of silly and stir it with lots of sarcasm. A sprinkle of irony wouldn’t hurt. Neither would serving it on a platter of news and pop culture.

Some examples? Why certainly. Let these bad boys shake your noodle:

Grotesque Christmas loaf

Looks like the creation of

Honey Boo Boo Child

Or maybe …

Fruitcake has few fans.

The NFL would no doubt

Enforce a blackout.

Or perhaps …

Pot is now legal

In two of our 50 states.

Why not ban fruitcake?

You get the gist.

To enter, technologically advantaged poets can send haiku to me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Or you can exercise the United States Postal Service by mailing your entry to:

Fruitcake Haiku Contest

200 S. Parker St.

Tampa, FL 33606

All haiku must be received before Dec. 10. Yes, multiple entries are allowed and even encouraged. The winning entries will appear in the Dec. 23 edition of the Baylife section.

* * * * *


Mrs. Harvey’s White FruitcakeMrs. Harvey's Fruitcake

Makes 5 pounds of fruitcake

4 cups shelled pecans

1 pound candied cherries

1 pound candied pineapple

1¾ cups all-purpose flour, divided

½ pound butter

1 cup sugar

5 large eggs

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ to 2 ounces vanilla extract

½ to 2 ounces lemon extract

Chop nuts and fruit into medium-size pieces; dredge with ¼ cup of flour. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs. Sift together remaining flour and baking powder; fold into butter-egg mixture. Stir in vanilla and lemon extracts. Blend in fruit and nuts.

Grease a 10-inch tube pan.

Line with parchment, waxed paper or foil; grease again. Pour batter into prepared pan or pans. Place in cold oven and bake 2½ to 3 hours in tube pan or 2 hours in 8½- by-4½- inch loaf pans at 250 degrees. Check cakes 1 hour before done and again in 30 minutes. When done, remove from oven; cool in pans on cake rack.

Note: In 4½-by-2½-by-1½-inch (baby) loaf pans, bake cake about 1 hour. For 1-pound cakes in 2-pound coffee cans, bake about 2 hours. In 5-ounce custard cups, bake about 1 hour. And in ungreased foil bonbon cups, bake about 30 minutes.


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