Thursday, November 17, 2011

"Eat A Cranberry Day" Plus Two Cranberry Recipes

As Thanksgiving is approaching and we are planning our meals for “turkey day“, my thoughts go to cranberries. In doing some research on cranberries, I just learned, that every November 23rd there is a holiday that is called “Eat a Cranberry Day!“ If you really think about it, the month of November is when we eat the most cranberries, since it is a Thanksgiving tradition. Eat a Cranberry Day, was started to encourage everyone to take part in eating cranberries. There are no formal proclamations for this day, but it is still described as a “National” day. There are even greeting cards that refer to this special day. So come join with me, as we have some fun and find out about cranberries.

Cranberry sales in the United States have traditionally been associated with the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas. In certain American states and Canadian provinces, cranberries are their major crop. Cranberries are processed into many products such as juice, wine, cranberry sauce, jam, dried sweetened berries, and some are sold fresh to customers. Wisconsin is the leading producer of cranberries, with Massachusetts following as the second largest U.S. producer. A very small production is found in southern Argentina, Chile, the Netherlands, and Eastern Europe.

Cranberries are considered to be sour and bitter if eaten plain or raw. Cranberry juice is a major use of cranberries, but the berry is also used in baking muffins, scones, cakes, and biscotti. They also can be added to soups and stews which adds tartness to them. Fresh cranberries can be frozen, and will keep up to nine months. You can use them directly in recipes without thawing.
As we eat cranberries we are reminded that they are healthy and good for you. Their health benefits include nutrient recognition and antioxidant qualities, giving them the name of a “super fruit”. Other health benefits help the cardiovascular system, immune system, fights off tooth decay, and acts as an anti-cancer agent. Cranberry juice contains a chemical component that helps fight against formation of kidney stones. So, make sure you eat or drink something with cranberries, it will keep you healthy.

Paul, my son 1986
I remember when my son was young, and it was Christmas time, we would use cranberries to string on the tree and use as a garland. We would thread each berry through a needle on the string. Sometimes we would put popcorn in-between the cranberries. But most of the time, there would be more cranberries than popcorn, as my son would eat more than he would string. We then would place the garland on the tree and admire our work. It was a fun activity to do with my son, which I will always remember. Then after Christmas, I would place the garland of berries and popcorn outside in the yard, so the birds and little animals could have a wonderful Christmas too.

I have two recipes this week for you to enjoy. “Cranberry Sauce with Walnuts“, is really easy and you will be the most popular person at your Thanksgiving dinner when you place this on your table. Between the tartness, sweetness, and crunch of the walnuts, this will be a wonderful dish to add to your turkey dinner.
The second recipe is called “Cran-Limoncello”, a drink that will enhance your holiday party.

Cranberry Sauce with Walnuts
Prep: 5 minutes Cook: 35 minutes

2 cups of sugar
1 cup of water
1 package (12 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup of apricot preserves
1/4 cup of lemon juice
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts, toasted

In a large saucepan over medium heat bring sugar and water to a boil. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Stir in the cranberries. Cook until berries pop, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in preserves and lemon juice. Transfer to a bowl. Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled. Stir in walnuts just before serving.
Yield: 3 1/2 cups.
Serves 14

Adapted from Every Day with Rachael Ray

1/2 cup of seltzer
1/4 cup of limoncello
2 tablespoons unsweetened cranberry juice
One small strip of lemon peel, for garnish
3-4 cranberries, for garnish

Stir together the seltzer, limoncello and cranberry juice. Pour into a glass filled with ice. Garnish with the lemon peel.
Serves: 1 glass
 Till Next Time……..

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