Fresh cranberries give color, piquancy to holiday foods

When I was a child my grandmother always ushered in Thanksgiving by getting out the old hand-turned food grinder. She would clamp it securely to the kitchen table and then proceed to turn the crank in slow rhythm as she dropped handfuls of cranberries and quartered oranges into its rotating jaws.

The sharp pop of the berries being crushed mingled with the gentle squish of the oranges as a growing mound of scarlet and orange collected in the earthenware bowl beneath the mouth of the grinder.

After a pound of berries and two oranges had been reduced to a coarse pulp, it was time to stir in two cups of sugar and watch it dissolve to create a sweet-tart relish that became a tradition on our holiday table and remained to garnish many a post-holiday turkey sandwich.

The grinder is long gone, but the tradition remains. Now the ingredients are simply placed in a food processor for a 30-second spin that creates a product identical in taste to the one my grandmother made.

When fresh cranberries are available, I buy several extra packages to be stored in plastic bags in the freezer. Then when needed, they may be washed and used immediately without waiting to be thawed. In this way, cranberries can become a year-round menu ingredient, adding both color and flavor to many dishes.

If you have already made relish and have some left over, it may be either frozen or used to add zest to this carrot cake. Cranberry Carrot Cake 1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 1 cup shredded carrots 1/2 cup cranberry-orange relish 1/4 cup nuts 1 cup sugar 2/3 cup melted shortening 2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sift together flour, baking powder, soda, salt , and spices. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Spread batter into greased 9-inch-square pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes; cool 10 minutes in pan before turning out onto rack. Cut into squares to serve.

A distinctive garnish can be made by mixing cranberry-orange relish into whipped topping.

Whole cranberries can be combined with orange juice and grated peel to create this colorful chicken dish. Cranberry Chicken 2 whole chicken breasts, halved 1/3 cup flour 1 teaspoon salt 4 tablespoons butter 1 1/2 cups whole cranberries, fresh or frozen 3/4 cup sugar 1/4 cup chopped onion 1 teaspoon grated orange peel 3/4 cup orange juice 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon ginger

Combine flour and salt, then coat chicken breasts in the mixture. Brown chicken in melted butter in a skillet, turning once. Meanwhile, combine berries, sugar, onion, orange peel, orange juice, cinnamon, and ginger in a saucepan; bring to boiling and pour over chicken. Cover and cook slowly 35 to 40 minutes or until chicken is tender. Serves 4.

There is no better way to start a beautiful November day than with these muffins, warm out of the oven. Serve them with sweet butter and orange marmalade. Cranberry Orange Muffins 1 cup cranberries 2 3/4 cups flour 3/4 cup sugar 4 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup milk 1 egg, lightly beaten 4 tablespoons butter, melted Grated rind of 1 orange

Wash cranberries under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Put berries through coarsest blade of food grinder into bowl and set aside.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt and sift into deep mixing bowl. Mix together milk, egg, and melted butter. Add all at once to dry ingredients and stir just to combine. Add cranberries and orange rind.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spoon batter into buttered muffin tins filling them about 2/3 full. Bake in middle of oven for 30 minutes or until lightly brown on top and cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven, let rest 10 minutes, then remove muffins from tins and serve warm. Makes 12 muffins.

For gift giving, cranberries and oranges team up in this delicious quick bread to provide a loaf to eat and one to share. Cranberry Bread 2 cups whole wheat flour 2 cups white flour 1 tablespoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 1 cup brown sugar 1 cup white sugar 1/2 cup butter or margarine 1 tablespoon grated orange rind 1 1/2 cups orange juice 2 eggs 2 cups fresh cranberries, chopped coarsely 1 cup chopped nuts 1/2 cup raisins

Sift dry ingredients together. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Combine orange rind, orange juice, and eggs; add to dry ingredients, mixing just to moisten. Fold in berries, nuts, and raisins.

Turn into two greased and floured 9-by-5-inch loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees F. for 55 to 60 minutes. Cool. This bread slices better the next day and can also be made into several smaller loaves.

Whole cranberries dot this delightful variation on old familiar gingerbread to create a new family treat. Cranberry Ginger Cake 2 1/2 cups sifted flour 1/3 cup sugar 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon soda 3/4 teaspoon salt 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon ginger 1/4 teaspoon cloves 1 tablespoon grated orange peel 3/4 cup shortening 3/4 cup orange juice 3/4 cup molasses 2 eggs 1 1/2 cups whole cranberries 3/4 cup chopped nuts

Thoroughly combine flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, salt, spices, and orange peel in large mixing bowl. Add shortening, orange juice, and molasses.

Beat 2 minutes at medium speed on electric mixer; scrape sides and bottom of bowl. Add eggs. Beat 2 minutes longer. Stir in cranberries and nuts. Put into greased and floured 12-cup tube or Bundt pan.

Bake at 325 degrees F. for 45 minutes or until cake tests done. Let cool in pan 10 minutes before turning out on serving plate. Finished cake may be served with or without a glaze or accompanying sauce, as with gingerbread.

For convenience, a can of whole cranberry sauce may be used to create this sparkling congealed salad. Spiced Cranberry Ring 1 3-ounce package raspberry gelatin 1/8 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon Dash cloves 1 cup boiling water 1 can whole berry cranberry sauce 1 tablespoon grated orange rind 1/2 cup diced orange sections 1/2 cup chopped apple

Dissolve gelatin, salt, cinnamon, and cloves in boiling water. Add cranberry sauce and orange rind. Chill until thickened. Fold in orange and apple. Pour into 3-cup ring mold. Chill until firm.

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