Tag: Katharine Trauger

Katharine Trauger: Pork Roast and Cranberry Cream Cheese Sauce

We’d been invited to a carry-in dinner. I love those. We were each giving the other the gift of a fine meal amidst gentle company, everyone contributing some, and all receiving a lot.

Cheery aromas met us when we arrived. I quickly popped my food offering into a warm oven.

The tables were decorated. The company—carefully chosen to be compatible—was chatting with small laughter and anticipation. There was even entertainment.

How irritating, that someone had merely grabbed some southern-fried, pretend chicken and shrugged it off to the luck of the draw! I was shocked.

These friends may think they were invited to a pot luck, but it was a dinner. I mean, we were going to dine. Each of us had brought a carefully planned special dish to complete this meal, to gift each other.

Into this amiable atmosphere, someone had inserted the harsh fragrance of overused grease and overbrowned double coating.

Somewhere there is a disconnect. People sometimes don’t get it. Just because it looks pretty on the package and the label has food words, does not mean it really is food. Not all that glitters is gold.   

However, not all of us have the Midas touch. Fine food can be expensive, time-consuming, right?

Nope. Just because it would do in a pinch does not mean you have to be in a pinch.

Here’s how I made a marvelously rich and fork-tender roast, just for my friends, with only about $5.00 and maybe fifteen minutes effort. You can do this, or something like it, instead of letting the discount store make your apologies.

In addition, I’m gifting you with a recipe requested more than once, last week, to go with the fruitcake recipe: That is, the cranberry/cream cheese sauce I mentioned and pictured with it.

Cranberry Cream Cheese Sauce
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  1. 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
  2. 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  3. 1 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce, made according to instructions on package of cranberries.
  4. Grated zest from one lemon
  1. In small bowl of mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until light.
  2. With slotted spoon, scoop berries from sauce to make ½ cup, and add to cream cheese
  3. Add grated lemon zest. Beat well, scraping beaters and bottom and sides of bowl, at least once.
  4. Add juice from cranberries to sweeten to taste. It should not be too sweet.
  5. For gifting, spoon into small jelly jar, leaving about an inch at the top of the jar.
  6. Cap and refrigerate.
  7. Once spread is cool, spoon additional berries into jar to cover the spread, leaving about ¼” at the top.
  8. Add a lid, decorate, and return to refrigerator, until time to gift it.
  1. Variations include adding orange instead of lemon zest, powdered cayenne, cocoa, cinnamon, or chopped pecans, to taste. Children love it best with marshmallow bits stirred in.
  2. This sauce keeps 2 weeks in the refrigerator if you hide it well.
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And, yes, I actually also did bring the fruitcake to the dinner. The sauce can make a good gift for the hostess at holiday time. It can also be served refrigerated as a spread, elevating anything whether fruitcake or a lowly bagel and looks appropriately festive.

What’s not to love?

Especially when you experiment with add-ins.

You’ll want to sample these two foods until they are gone, so it might be wise to make one round just for the family and to  become confident with the procedure. This will allow you to nail your preferences as to the variations. It might also ensure you will have some to carry to that dinner.

Besides, practice makes perfect, don’t you think?


Spiced Italian Pork Roast
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  1. 1 cup salt
  2. 1 gallon purified water
  3. 2-3 pound pork loin roast*
  4. 1 ½ cups purified water
  5. 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  6. ½ teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet Browning and Seasoning Sauce
  7. 2-3 drops liquid smoke
  8. 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  9. 1 bay leaf
  10. 1 medium onion (about the size of a tennis ball) thinly sliced
  11. 1 Tablespoon dried Italian herbs (or 3 Tablespoons fresh Italian herbs)
  12. Powdered cayenne to taste, optional
  13. 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 3” lengths
  14. Gravy: (optional)
  15. 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
  16. ½ cup water
  1. Heat 2 cups, from the 1 gallon of water, with 1 cup salt in it, stirring until all salt is dissolved. Add to rest of 1 gallon of water, in a large non-reactive container you can cover tightly.
  2. Place pork loin roast into salt water. Seal. Refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.
  3. Remove roast and rinse briefly. Allow to drain briefly.
  4. Into a 7” x 11” x 3” baking pan that has a lid, place 1 ½ cups water, Worcestershire, Kitchen Bouquet, Liquid Smoke, pepper, and bay leaf. Stir to blend.
  5. Cut roast (a filet knife works well for this) making six parallel slits, against the grain, down into the top (fatty) side of the roast, about an inch apart, and long and deep enough to accommodate the onion slices. The slits should be about three inches deep and three inches across. If your onion slices are too large, remove outer rings to fit. Do not slice all the way through the roast; only cut slits into it. Especially do not cut the sides of it.
  6. Insert onion slices into these slits. You may lengthen slits or remove outer rings of onion slices to make them fit.
  7. Place roast in water in pan.
  8. Spread Italian herbs over top (fatty layer) of roast. Sprinkle with scant amount of cayenne powder, or to taste.
  9. Arrange carrots and any remaining parts of the onion around the roast, pressing into the water as much as possible. The pan should be crowded and nearly full.
  10. Cover. Bake at 325 degrees for 2 ½ hours.
  11. IMPORTANT: Allow roast to cool, covered, ½ hour before removing from pan.
  12. Remove roast and vegetables from pan. Slice and arrange on platter with carrots and onions.
  1. Pour broth from roast into small sauce pan. Bring to boil.
  2. Mix cornstarch with water and add, a little at a time, to boiling broth, while stirring with a whisk, until desired thickness is achieved.
  3. Serve alongside roast.
  1. Please do not confuse pork loin roast with pork tenderloin. These two are not the same. You want the cut of boneless pork that is roughly five inches in diameter and can be around two feet long, with a layer of fat over one side. You do not want to buy a piece that is scarcely a foot long and maybe two inches, maximum, across. No. That is the tenderloin. You want a pork loin roast. One-third of it should be about the size you need to feed four to eight people.
  2. You may add one pound of cut-up potatoes to the carrots. You will need a slightly larger pan for it.
  3. !Variations
The variation I’ve given, here, is for spicy Italian flavor. You can alter the flavor by experimenting with the spices and herbs as follows
  1. German -Substitute sage and white pepper for Italian herbs and black pepper. Omit Kitchen Bouquet, Liquid Smoke, cayenne and bay leaf. Do include potatoes with carrots. Also add one celery stalk and one garlic clove to the vegetables, to be removed at serving time.
  2. Springtime – Substitute new potatoes for carrots. Substitute mint, grated lemon peel, fresh rosemary blossoms, and ground white pepper, for Italian herbs, bay leaf, and black pepper. Omit Kitchen Bouquet, Liquid Smoke and cayenne.
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Katharine Trauger is a retired educator and a women’s counselor. She has spent 25 years managing a home and school for children who would otherwise have been homeless, and has worked 15 years as contributor and/or columnist for several small professional magazines, with over 60 published articles. She blogs about the rising popularity of “being at home” from a sun room on a wooded hilltop in the Deep South at: Home’s Cool! and The Conquering Mom and tweets at Katharine Trauger (@KathaTrau). She is currently working on a self-help book entitled: Yes, It Hurts, But . .

Katharine Trauger: How to Make a Scrumptious Fruitcake

Trust me. This is one fruitcake you and your Friends Will LIKE!



My introduction to the joys of the candied fruit found in fruitcake came early in my life. My mother made German cookies with chopped, candied citron every winter. Chewy-soft with mysteriously perfumed bits in them and the scant smear of glaze to make them shine, Lebkuchen were an adored part of our heritage from the Old Country.

But fruitcakes are not German.

My dad often received gifts of dried/candied fruits, displayed on decorative platters. These we found interesting and delicious when our dad allowed us samples.

But fruitcakes are not simply fruit.

Sometimes my dad received the gift of a fruitcake. 

Like shy maidens with an ugly suitor, we ran and hid when our parents opened fruitcake packages. Our dad, a gleam in his eyes, no doubt reminiscing about fruitcakes of yore, insisted on sharing these tough, repugnant slabs of spiced cardboard.

We whimpered.

Were we alone in not adoring fruitcake? No!

Many, like us, have suffered from gifting of a winter fruitcake! Why, I heard of one family, among which a gift fruitcake passed around from branch to branch, for decades, until it finally had traversed the entire family tree, unopened and unsampled! I get that.

Reality dawns.

I was in my mid-twenties when I encountered a really good fruitcake. I’m not sure what possessed me to try one—maybe memories of my dad? It had such a bizarre name: Rainbow Party Bar. It was small, the length of a loaf pan but half the width, like a squared sausage. When I saw the price, I was shocked, but for some crazy reason, I just wanted it.

I brought it home and unwrapped it.

It smelled good, so I sampled.

It was amazing. I could not stay out of it. I could not even believe it. My heart leapt with happiness every time I snuck yet another slice.

I was addicted.

Before long, I had analyzed the label, looking for some mysterious ingredient. (This thing was really, really good; did I mention that?)

Near the top of the ingredients list lay the secret:


Yes, this fruitcake had more butter than it had any one type of fruit, and I think it safe to say, more butter than any other fruitcake I’d ever eaten. As I kept sampling, I knew the butter was one major difference from all the fruitcakes that had gone before.

Nothing would do but to find a recipe for this delicacy.

I tried several (really bad ones) before I devised the perfect recipe. We have become so enamored with this cake that many of us, who did not like fruitcake, have learned to find cheer in the mere thought of it.



Our friends beg for it.

Now, I’m not promising that if you make this fruitcake, your whole family and all your friends will fall into proper love with the idea of eating it. I will say this: It is so good, you will not ever again be sad if some uninitiated child leaves “more for you”.

But it probably won’t happen often.

Have fun making this one! Have fun eating it!

And have fun gifting it.

Katharine Trauger: Our Fruitcake Everyone Loves

Katharine Trauger: Our Fruitcake Everyone Loves


    Soaked fruit
  • 1 ½ pounds mixed candied fruit
  • 1 pound raisins
  • ½ pint brandy (unflavored)
  • 1 cup salted butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 2 ½ cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 ½ cups pecans


  1. Place fruits and brandy in a large, non-reactive bowl that can be covered.
  2. Stir well and allow fruit to soak, covered, 24 hours, stirring 6 times.
  1. Prepare pans before mixing cake. Select pans in the shape you want for your cake. Either a ten-cup tube pan, an 8-cup tube and one 5 1/2-cup x 9 ½-cup loaf, or three loaf pans will do the job, to give you an idea. It rises, but not a lot. I have baked small amounts in mini soufflé pans before, too. Baking times for smaller pans will be shorter.
  2. Cut parchment paper to fit the bottoms and sides of your pans. For a loaf pan, you will need five pieces, for the four sides and the bottom. For a tube pan, you will need one circle with the center removed, for the bottom, and several small pieces, maybe 3”-4” square, to overlap on the sides. You may prefer plain brown paper, as I do. You do not need to place paper on the tube, itself. But do grease it.
  3. Grease the pans generously with butter or olive oil, insert the papers, which should stick pretty cooperatively, then grease the papers, too. A spray-type oil helps with the second greasing. This fat is necessary. You will be sorry if you do not use butter or oil, paper, and more butter or oil. It is a messy job, but important—so important, that if you buy fruitcake, you may notice paper still attached to it.
  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Arrange one rack in the center.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar.
  3. Blend the eggs in well, one at a time.
  4. Sift together all dry ingredients, except nuts.
  5. Gradually add dry ingredients to egg mixture, beating well after each addition.
  6. With a spoon, stir in nuts, fruit, and all liquid remaining in the fruit. Mix well.
  7. Separate batter into prepared pans and bake at 275 degrees, for two to three hours. Yes. It takes a while. It’s worth it. Doneness will be hard to determine, but it will begin to brown around the edges before it is actually done. Brown all over is better. Gooey in the middle is not the goal for this cake. The toothpick test will not work, nor will the touch test with a finger; it should be a bit darker over the top than you thought.
  8. Once it is cool, but still in the pan, you may choose to sprinkle about 1/8 cup more brandy over it, to soak the cake. The traditional purpose was to sort of pickle it so it would keep well. I do not do this, because I often feed it to children.
  9. Remove from pans when cool enough to handle. Remove paper from sides, but not from bottom. Allow to cool completely. If you want party bars, with a long, sharp knife, carefully press to cut loaves in half, lengthwise, cutting through the bottom paper (the only exception about the paper.) Do not remove the bottom paper from these halves. Many people also cut a tube cake into halves. I do, because it is easier to wrap for the freezer that
  10. Wrap in waxed paper. Then tightly wrap in foil. In addition to that, add a zipper bag, to protect the foil from tearing. Freeze.


The best time to slice is after freezing. It slices more neatly when frozen or even when frozen and then thawed. Otherwise, expect wasteful crumbs and broken slices. For gifts, I pre-slice it (to the paper, not through the paper) since few people realize it should be frozen first. Traditionally, we do not remove or slice through the bottom paper until serving. Even when you buy it, you’ll often find it pre-sliced with the bottom paper remaining. This is because this cake is nearly equally batter and fruit, and will fall apart easily. The paper just holds the cake together so you can better manage it. This fruitcake is amazing with fresh, black coffee. For the sugar-immune, it is also amazing with eggnog. I’ve enjoyed it with a cranberry/cream cheese topping. The recommended wine pairing is a tawny port, but we like something drier, such as our own semi-sec apple wine.




 Katharine Trauger is a retired educator and a women’s counselor. She has spent 25 years managing a home and school for children who would otherwise have been homeless, and has worked 15 years as contributor and/or columnist for several small professional magazines, with over 60 published articles. She blogs about the rising popularity of “being at home” from a sun room on a wooded hilltop in the Deep South at: Home’s Cool! and The Conquering Mom and tweets at Katharine Trauger (@KathaTrau). She is currently working on a self-help book entitled: Yes, It Hurts, But . . .