Back around this time of year in 2011 (Wasn't that, like, yesterday?), Mr. Beers and I were planning our annual pilgrimage to New York City. We've been going to the city for Christmas for quite a while, so this wasn't anything new. What was new was that the state of New York, earlier in the year, had decided that it was okay for people to marry whomever they loved. Mr. Beers and I started talking about the possibility of getting married on this particular trip. We shared our feelings about this with a few people. Those feelings were mostly feelings of uncertainty since getting married had never seemed like anything that would really be feasible for us. We thought about it and talked about it and researched it and found out enough to think that we might actually be able to do it. Still there were rather loud voices in our heads telling us that it might not happen - that somebody would say, "Wait a minute. You can't do that." You see, since it had never been possible in the past, it was hard to imagine that finally we could just go get married. Like I said, we shared these thoughts and feelings with a few people - a couple of whom were Bob and Melanie Maxham, dear friends and regular customers at W. D. Deli (and, not incidentally, the parents of Will, our beautiful godson).
A few days before we were to leave for New York, Bob and Melanie came to lunch. Melanie had a small package of something wrapped in aluminum foil. She explained that it was a fruit cake that she had made, and that she wanted to give to us for - not just for Christmas, but also as a wedding cake. There was a time when fruit cake was a traditional wedding cake, and this one was made from a recipe that was Melanie's grandmother's. It was a such a sweet gesture, and that fruitcake traveled with us to Manhattan, and was unwrapped and enjoyed at a champagne brunch at Les Halles in the financial district immediately following our wedding at the city clerk's office on December 28, 2011. Since we weren't sure that the wedding would happen, as I said, we had only told a few people about it. But even those few people got excited enough about the prospect of this celebration that we ended up being surrounded by the sweetest group of eleven friends and family members from New York, Texas, and Maryland. The whole day was - there are no words, really - very special.
The fruitcake was delicious. Once we were home, I asked Melanie to share the recipe and she graciously did. I don't think she'd mind my sharing it with you. When she gave it to me it was written beautifully - not only a recipe, but a story as well, with anecdotal notes letting you know that she used to help make this cake when she was a child, crushing vanilla wafers and graham crackers with a rolling pin. I'll give you a slightly abbreviated, less lovely version. You know what, never mind, I'm gonna leave it the way Melanie wrote it. Another nostalgic note on this recipe is that some of the amounts on some of the ingredients say things like "a can or half a bag of coconut" and a "box of graham crackers," harkening back to a time when things like coconut and graham crackers came in a standard size. Here we go: