Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Countdown Begins

2010 11 23_8928e

At the risk of losing all kitchen cred entirely, I'm not only going to admit that I still make a cranberry-jello salad at Thanksgiving, I'm going to admit that I really like it!

I've made this recipe for years and years (it's jotted down in a kitchen notebook dated 1995,and I'd already made it for several years at that time.) I got it from a friend who got it from a friend who got it from her mother-in-law who got it from her EX-sister-in-law and so on and so forth, so there is no way of knowing where this recipe actually comes from, but it is a good guess that after all this time the recipe has undergone some changes. At any rate, it is dense and packed with real live fruits and vegetables and nuts that are (except for the pineapple) fresh and relatively healthy, and the jello just kind of holds them all together.

We will not discuss the sugar.

(Except have you ever tasted a raw cranberry WITHOUT sugar? Don't. Just a wee bit on the tart side, you might say...)

I like to make this as early as I can, even as early as the Tuesday before Thanksgiving -- it really needs a good 24 hours at least to be at it's best.

1- 12 oz package cranberries
2 cups sugar
2 large boxes (or 4 small boxes) jello -- I use cranberry jello, raspberry, cherry -- whatever is red.
2 cups hot water
1 cup cold water
1 can crushed pineapple, drained, with juice reserved (NOTE - my recipe doesn't specify what size can -- I usually get a large one and use about 1/2 to 2/3 of the pineapple and eat the rest with cottage cheese.)
1 cup chopped pecans
2 cups finely chopped celery
1/2 orange peel, grated finely
2 Granny Smith apples, chopped finely

Before you begin, remember that cranberries are very red.  They also stain, so don't be using your favorite white kitchen towels to mop up any spills.  Wear an apron or an old shirt to make this one!  You will need a couple of large bowls and a food processor.

Wash the cranberries well under cold running water, sorting out any that have gone bad.  Using a food processor, grind the cranberries and orange peel together. Add the sugar and set aside.

Dissolve the jello mix in hot water. When well dissolved, add cold water and other ingredients.

Do you still have a jello mold? Second secret -- I still have a ring mold that I keep just for this recipe for Thanksgiving. It holds a bit more than half of this recipe, and I just pour the rest into a small square casserole dish.  You could use a large rectangular casserole dish if you wanted, but then you'd be missing out on the fun of a jello mold.

Chill until firm (at least overnight.)

Note -- you can reserve the juice from the pineapple and add enough cold water to reach the required 1 cup to substitute for the cold water.

And, there you go.  One tradition continues on...

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