For years decades, we’ve made something special for my dad for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s his sister’s recipe for Cranberry Salad. I remember making it as a kid, as do my sisters, but since we grew up and moved out, my mother – who fondly calls this dish “cranberry crap” – took over the job again.
This year, since my mother is in Arkansas, my father asked me if I would make it. Actually, my mother also asked me if I would make it for him and offered to give me the recipe. My father thought it would be nice if I called his sister, my Aunt Margie and ask her for it. I hadn’t spoken or seen my Aunt Margie in over ten years – not because of any problems, just logistics and lack of effort. It was a great impetus for renewing my relationship with my Aunt.
We easily fell into a very nice conversation and as she gave the me ingredients and instructions, I realized. My mother had a different version of this recipe. We had not been making my Aunt Margie’s Cranberry Salad all these years. I’ll explain and show photos as I go through the recipe.
2 bags of cranberries
2 apples (peeled and cored)
1 can of pineapple chunks (drained)
1 cup of sugar
walnuts to garnish
Wash the cranberries and discard stems and rotten berries.
Now here’s the pragmatic twist. My father delivered a hand grinder to me when he asked me to make this recipe. A hand. grinder. Serious flashback. I remember hand grinding the fruit and cranberries. Every. Year. What a mess. Cranberry juice everywhere. Seriously. A MESS. As soon as my sisters got old enough to use the grinder without losing a finger, I gladly passed the job to them. In their young naiveté, they thought it would be fun. By the time they realized it was a sticky and disgusting job, the cranberry crushing baton was completely out of my hands. When my mother took over again, I think she switched from hand grinder to blender. So over the years, the whole thing went from cranberry goo (in the grinder) to cranberry soup (in the blender).
Although resistant, I tested the grinder and my memory on the apples first. Yep. Just like old times. Applesauce anyone?
So I pulled out my handy dandy Oster chopper attachment.
And I tried again. MUCH better.
The red pieces in the applies are from the cranberries.
I chopped the cranberries, the apples and the pineapple using the “pulse” button on my chopper. Filling the container multiple times allowed me to chop in different . . . textures? Sizes? Basically, there are three different textures of cranberries and apples, ranging from finely chopped, medium chopped and barely chopped. I didn’t have to chop the pineapple very much since it started out in small chunks anyway.
That leaves the oranges. I made two changes which were a HUGE difference from how I made this as a kid. First, I zested the orange. We NEVER did that. NEVER. Didn’t even have a zester in the house growing up. I don’t own one now. I had to use a small grater. I got the sweetness and the taste, but not the texture. I’m buying a zester for next year.
The second difference with regard to the oranges? My Aunt Margie strongly emphasized removing the “white stuff” from the orange. It’s called the “pith” and while it is actually good for you, it tastes a little bitter. There are a few ways to remove the pith, but I just rolled the orange on the counter, peeled it and then cut away the white layer that remained. I also removed the inner white stuff – I’ve been calling it the “cartilage” of the orange. It’s hard and crunchy and bitter and it is THE reason I would never eat this cranberry salad. I hate that stuff. yuck.
Here’s the finished product sans the walnut garnish. I wasn’t serving any at the time of the photo and I didn’t want to waste the walnuts. I actually prefer pecans, myself. This can be made ahead and I’ve been told it freezes well too. Panara’s got nothing on my Aunt Margie.
My dad said he could tell the difference before he even tasted it, just from the way it looked. So could I. I tasted it, my younger sister tasted it, our dinner guests tried it – all with positive reactions. None of the kids would touch it. Big chickens. My dad took most of it home. I understand it’s great with vanilla ice cream.
I’m wondering, if I retain some of the fruit juice, heat it up and thicken it with cornstarch and stir it into the fruit mixture – would it make a good pie? I may test it next year in a Pillsbury pastry.
As always, I’m providing a print friendly version – CLICK HERE.
FavoriteSon has been begging/nagging for days and Sunday night, FirstHusband finally made the long awaited jack-o-bread. It’s pumpkin bread made from our jack-o-lanterns.
First, PinkGirl scooped pumpkin guts on Halloween. (If you carve your jack-o-lanterns too early, you may want to use canned pumpkin.)
Then, the pumpkin gut fairy cleaned up.
FirstHusband/BestDaddy cut up the jack-o-lanterns the next day. (You’ve got to move fast on this, the inside of the second pumpkin started to rot the next day.)
Poor “Jack” was boiled like potatoes. [UPDATE: We now bake him at 350° until he’s tender.]
My copy of “The Tightwad Gazette” was opened to the wrinkliest page – the one with the highlighted pumpkin bread recipe.
FirstHusband did the honors.
And it appears I’m too slow with the camera.
A number of years ago, I insanely – and I do mean INSANELY – made four batches of pumpkin bread – from FOUR different recipes. It took me ALL day and I forgot to wear shoes, so my back and legs and feet were KILLING me when the last oven timer went off. But at the end of the day, the taste tests revealed the winner was a recipe from “The Tightwad Gazette” by Amy Dacyczyn (pronounced “decision”). The recipe is in the original book, page 127. There’s a The Tightwad Gazette II and a The Tightwad Gazette III. Now there’s even The Complete Tightwad Gazette
4 cups sugar (we use half brown sugar/half white sugar)*
1 cup oil
1 16oz can pumpkin (we use 16 oz of “Jack”)
5 cups flour (we use half wheat/half white flour)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/2 Tbsp cloves or nutmeg
1 cup applesauce (we use sugar-free)
You can add:
1/2 to 1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup dates or raisins
Back in March, I posted a recipe for Bake Ahead Egg Muffins (with a print friendly PDF version). The Sunday before last, I took about 20 to 30 minutes to whip up a batch of egg/cheese/spinach/sausage goo – but I didn’t bake muffins. I baked two 9×12 pans and then cut squares. The squares fit nicely on a piece of toast.
This week, I again used the two 9×12 pans, but I used an empty (and clean) tuna can to cut circles to fit on an English muffin. I punched a hole in the bottom of the tuna can because I cut them hot and there was sputtering when I pressed down. I layered the patties between paper towels in containers to prevent sogginess and FavoriteSon had the first one this morning. Score! We now have 14 more patties in the fridge. Along with the leftover remnants after cutting all those circles.
Me? I put the remnants on a piece of toast. Such a visual example the wasted space resulting from round containers. I’ll say it again. I HATE round containers.
I noted in number 5 of my “21 things about me” that I can only cook with a recipe. In contrast, FirstHusband cooks like a mad scientist – he invents. Sometimes the results are . . . disappointing. Like Fish Grits. (He wouldn’t even eat them.)
Many times, the invention turns out to be very, very good. Sometimes it’s “You should become a chef after your mid-life crisis” good. When that happens, there’s always a plea for him to write down what he did so he might possibly be able to repeat it. A while ago, he created a one pot meal that we all loved and he did write down the ingredients. Unfortunately, is seems an engineer’s handwriting is worse than a doctor’s. Check it out. (Click on the photo to see a larger image.)
Can you guess the ingredients? There are twelve lines here. I’ve figured out all but one, but I don’t want to spoil the game, so I’ll only reveal a couple of the easy ones.
1. white wine/sherry
2. (UPDATE – Correct! 3 chicken breasts, cut up)
3. one box spinach
4. (UPDATE – Correct! 1 can of tomatoes)
5. (UPDATE – Correct! 1 can of chickpeas)
6. THIS IS THE ONE THAT I STILL CAN’T FIGURE OUT! Make a guess or a suggestion!
7. (UPDATE – Correct! 1 can of cream of mushroom soup)
8. (UPDATE – Correct! 1 can of cream of celery soup)
9. boil (UPDATE – I’ve been corrected! It is BASIL.)
10. rosemary garlic (seasoning – we have a big Sam’s Club jar of it.)
12. garlic (we keep a jar of minced garlic in the fridge.)
And this is a game after all, so there needs to be a prize. How about a cookbook? It was Whale of a Sale this past weekend, so I picked up a few gently used cookbooks to choose from. Click on the links to read the Amazon descriptions.
If you play the “missing ingredient” game, specify your book choice in your comment.
Instead of a cookbook, a shrink wrapped hardback copy of the Southern Living Wine Guide and Journal
Enter to win by commenting and guessing a missing ingredient. OR SUGGEST a possible ingredient for #6! Depending on the response, I might fill some in as they are correctly guessed or I might wait a week. Either way, I’ll randomly pick a winner on Tuesday, October 14th, so check back!
Back in April, I posted one of our family’s favorite recipes, “Cream Cheese Chicken..” (The original post has a printable version of the recipe in PDF.)
Yesterday, we made a little change and it turned out pretty good, so I thought I’d share.
First, I doubled the recipe except for the chicken and the cream cheese (I have a large crockpot). But this time, we rolled everything up in flour tortillas and made burritos! Next time I either need to use less salsa or maybe just take the lid off and let the mixture stand a little to thicken up, the burritos were a little too runny. But they were GOOD.
It does take an extra few minutes to roll burritos after everything is cooked, but it’s still only 5 minutes to prepare on the front end!