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‘Tis the Season: Bake a Fruitcake 2

Jay Leno bestowed Marie Rudisill with the name “The Fruitcake Lady,” when she appeared with him on The Tonight Show.

Having just published her latest cookbook, Fruitcake: Memories of Truman Capote and Sook, Marie was sick and tired of Leno denigrating fruitcakes. His jokes went from bad to worse.

Photo by: sarsmis

Photo by: sarsmis

Q. What do you do with a Christmas fruitcake?

A. Try eating it! Hey! It’s one way to get rid of it!

Then, there was this one:

Q. How many fruitcakes are there in the world?

A. Just one, and it keeps being passed around and around from person to person.

All fired up, like a wood-burning oven on a cold winter morning, Marie wrote Leno a letter. “You’ve got a hell of a nerve,” she lectured. “A good fruitcake is a labor of love, a work of art. You don’t have any idea how good a fruitcake can be.” Well, she caught someone’s attention, and the next thing she knew she was mixing nuts and sifting flour on the fruit in front of a live studio audience.

As funny as the Fruitcake Lady is, she’s serious about fruitcakes, calling them “true ambrosia – the queen of cakes.” In her cookbook, she includes over twenty recipes. Can’t wait to get started? Here’s one Martha Washington is said to have used.

Cream together a 1/2 pound butter and 1-1/2 pounds sugar. Gradually add six beaten egg yolks until creamy; then dissolve one teaspoon of soda in one pint of sour cream and add, alternating with 1-1/2 pounds of flour. Next, add the whites of the six eggs, beaten stiff.

For the final steps, add one pound of raisins, one pound of currants, a 1/2 pound citron dredged with a 1/4 pound of flour. Add the juice of one lemon and the rind of two lemons, one grated nutmeg, and a sprinkling of mace.

Bake in a greased ten-inch tube pan for five hours at a slow, steady heat. Cover with buttered paper while baking.

A fruitcake makes a nice addition to your Christmas table. Or you can always pass it along to a neighbor or friend who’ll pass it along to a neighbor or friend who’ll pass it along to a neighbor or friend…

If you don’t have neighbors or friends who are keen on fruitcakes (I know, it’s hard to believe, but not everyone is), they might enjoy the Fruitcake Lady’s memoir, Ask Me Anything. It’s a special treat.

© 2014 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

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Five Stars for Ask Me Anything

Marie Book CoverThe first review for Ask Me Anything, the memoir I co-wrote with Marie Rudisill, best known as “The Fruitcake Lady” from her appearances on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,”  is below. I’m pleased to say that the reviewer awarded it five out of five stars.

Ask Me Anything is available from Amazon. The print book has a  discount from its list price of $14.95, and the ebook is $8.99, unless you have signed up for Kindle Unlimited. Then it’s FREE.

Word-of-mouth is crucial for any author to succeed. If you enjoy the book, please leave a review. Even if it’s just a sentence or two. It would make all the difference and would be very much appreciated. 

 

And now, a 5 star review by Jack Magnus from Readers Favorites:

Ask Me Anything is a memoir written by Marie Rudisill with Susan Marg. Marie Rudisill is known to late night television watchers as the Fruitcake Lady. Her letter, written in 2000 to Jay Leno, defending the honor of the fruitcake, prompted his invitation to her to appear on “The Tonight Show.” She was 89 years old at the time. Her appearance was such a success that she was invited back again and again. She taught celebrities how to make fruitcakes and would answer just about any question posed by members of the audience. When the trip out to the West Coast became too difficult for Rudisill, Leno would send out a crew to do her segments at her home. Rudisill was a product of the old South, and this memoir is filled with stories of her life as a child in Monroeville, Alabama. When her father died after an accident, her cousin Jenny took in the widow and her five children. Rudisill’s mother also died several years after, and Jenny raised the three older sisters as her own. Jenny was a self-made woman who built a small millinery business into a thriving department store, and built the rambling house with extensive gardens where she, her siblings and their young cousins lived. Co-author Marg worked extensively with Rudisill on this memoir until Rudisill’s death in 2006.

Marie Rudisill’s memoir, Ask Me Anything, is blunt, outspoken and charming, all at once. I immediately felt at home reading her story, even if I did cringe sometimes at some of her statements. Her stories of her childhood in the big house with the flamboyant, and rather alarming, Jenny and her other cousins are marvelous, especially the kitchen wars and the legendary bullwhip Jenny carried around. Rudisill was also Truman Capote’s aunt and she considered him her favorite nephew. Her stories of their friendship and later falling out were parts of Ask Me Anything that I particularly enjoyed. Rudisill and co-author, Marg, are a wonderful writing team. The memoir reads beautifully, with Rudisill’s voice coming forth loudly and clearly, even if she was in her mid-nineties as they worked together. While she’s no longer with us, she’s still very much here in spirit as evinced in Ask Me Anything. I very much enjoyed getting to know Marie Rudisill through her memoir and highly recommend it.

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Windmills of Her Mind

Marie Book CoverI recently published Marie Rudisill’s memoir, Ask Me Anything, which I wrote with her in the last year of her life. It’s been on my mind, so I hope you’ll forgive me as a move away from my usual blog themes to blog about this book.

Marie had been called many things: irreverent, sassy, brash, even rude, and, certainly, too old to be crude. You get the idea, if you didn’t know her as “The Fruitcake Lady” from The Tonight Show. With host Jay Leno and special guests including Tom Cruise and Mel Gibson, she made fruitcakes, mixing up the batter with plenty of fast talk and worldly advice. Well into her nineties, she became a television celebrity, going mouth to mouth with anyone who asked her a question or sought help with a problem. She always had an answer on the tip of her tongue.

But Marie was more than a pop culture phenomenon. She had seen a lot and accomplished even more when she passed away at 95 years old. She was Southern to the core, yet she took on the Big Apple. When she settled in the Carolinas, she undertook one venture after another – writing cookbooks, selling antiques, and operating a restaurant or two.

Family, too, was a big part of Marie’s life. She was close to her nephew Truman Capote, and their falling out over some paperweights hurt her deeply. She retired to Florida with her husband to be near their son, yet yearned to return to her sweet Alabama hometown.

Ask Me Anything covers a lot of ground, telling Marie’s story from the beginning to the end. She also had much to say about various topics – talking to teenagers, surviving a hurricane, and, of course, baking a perfect fruitcake, and I was only too happy to go along with whatever was on her mind. Here’s how we got started.

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How I Hooked Up with “The Fruitcake Lady.”

From the Introduction to Ask Me Anything.

Marie always made me laugh. She was feisty and funny, and like her television character, “The Fruitcake Lady” from The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, she gave as good as she got. For an old lady, and at ninety-five years of age she was getting up there, she never took guff from anyone, always speaking her mind, telling it like it is.

I only got to know Marie the last year of her life although my husband, Jim Simmons, had known her for over twenty-five years. He was her collaborator on the two books she had written on the background and upbringing of her nephew, Truman Capote. In late fall of 2005 she asked him if he would be interested in working with her on another book, possibly about her sister Lillie Mae, who was Truman’s mother. Jim was in the middle of a couple of projects and didn’t think he had the time to devote to something new. Besides, she had always given him a difficult time when they were working together. Who needs that? But he didn’t say “no,” it was hard to say “no” to Marie, and they stayed in touch.

In December of that same year we were watching Marie on what would be her last appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. We were laughing along with everyone else as she did her “Ask the Fruitcake Lady” shtick, bullying and berating members of the audience for their silly questions and ridiculous complaints. Suddenly it occurred to me that Marie herself would be a terrific subject for a book. Jim thought I was onto something, as long as it was my undertaking, not his, which I must confess was not my original intent. Still, I agreed. When Jim broached the subject with Marie, she didn’t think twice about it. Just like that, I had a new book in the works.

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Ask Me Anything, ISBN 978-0-578-14318-7, is a 195-page quality paperback book consisting of nine chapters.  Topics cover growing up, family ties, and family feuds, as well as becoming a celebrity on The Tonight Show. An ebook is also available.

 

© 2014 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

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‘Tis the Season: Bake a Fruitcake

Marie Rudisill, also known as The Fruitcake Lady, got her nickname from writing about fruitcake.  Her book, Fruitcake: Memories of Truman Capote and Sook, preceded her appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.  In fact, it precipitated her appearance when she sent a copy to a producer of The Tonight Show with a letter chastising Leno for his fruitcake jokes.

Too pretty to unwrap. Photo by: Babe_kl

Q. What do you do with a Christmas fruitcake?  A. Try eating it! Hey! It’s one way to get rid of it!

Seriously, Marie’s book is a gem.  She reminisces about growing up in the Old South, family traditions, her nephew Truman Capote, and their cousin Sook Faulk, whom Capote memorialized in A Christmas Memory.

Marie also rhapsodizes about fruitcakes, describing them as a “wonderful concoction of walnuts, pecans, candied red and green cherries, pineapples, date, almonds, and such” and calling them “true ambrosia – the queen of cakes.”

And, of course, she includes over twenty recipes.  Can’t wait to get started?  Here’s one Martha Washington is said to have used.

Cream together a 1/2 pound butter and 1-1/2 pounds sugar.  Gradually add six beaten egg yolks until creamy; then dissolve a teaspoon of soda in one pint of sour cream and add, alternating with 1-1/2 pounds of flour.  Next, add the whites of the six eggs, beaten stiff.

For the final steps, add one pound of raisins, one pound of currants, a 1/2 pound citron dredged with a 1/4 pound of flour.  Add the juice of one lemon and the rind of two lemons, one grated nutmeg, and a sprinkling of mace.

Bake in a greased ten-inch tube pan for five hours at a slow, steady heat.  Cover with buttered paper while baking.

A fruitcake will make a nice addition to your Christmas table.  Or you can always pass it along to a neighbor or friend who’ll pass it along to a neighbor or friend who’ll pass it along to a neighbor or friend…

© 2011 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved