Mix raisins through baking soda in a saucepan and bring to a boil, boil 1 minute, cool to room temp. In large bowl, cream together shortening, eggs, sugar and vanilla extract. Add cooled raisin mixture. Stir together. Add flour, mixing gently, then stir in nuts. Bake in 3 greased and floured coffee cans (1 lb preferred, but can't find anymore so use 12 oz. coffee cans, or use two regular loaf pans, or 3 smaller sized). Bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven for 50-70 min, till toothpick comes out clean. Cool in cans 15 min. Remove, cool completely. Drop loaves back into coffee cans, seal with plastic lids. Keeps this way for days and improves with age. Yield: 3 loaves. Slices can be as thin or thick as needed or can be cut in half for more servings.