Monday, November 30, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
I almost didn't make it -- though it doesn't actually include Jell-O, there's still something a little odd about calling it a salad -- it seems so dated.
But I did make it -- and then forgot to bring it out till dessert time. (Freudian slip? Maybe.)
The thing is, where this "salad" comes into its own is at supper Thanksgiving night -- when you're really still full of rich food but you feel like a little something or other. And this combination of cool cranberry and pineapple, suspended in gelatin and crunchy with chopped celery and pecans, really hits the spot. Almost like health food after the dissipation of the big meal.
My grandmother served it with homemade mayonnaise -- possibly this is a Southern thing. I know my daughter-in-law from New York state was kind of appalled the first time she saw this. And I mostly omit it these days. But it's really tasty -- as long as the mayo is good and lemony.
I grew up eating a number of weird combinations that were called salads -- shredded carrots and raisins with mayo, canned pineapple with cottage cheese ... and mayo, Jell-O squares with canned fruit cocktail hidden in their depths... and mayo, a frozen square composed of fruit cocktail, whipped cream and mayo. All of these things included a leaf of iceberg lettuce as a base -- which I guess justified their being called salad.
Those were the days for wild invention -- the notorious Candlestick Salad was touted as fun for kids to make -- the banana as candle with a cherry or strawberry as flame and whipped cream standing in for melted wax. It was also suggested as a nice item for ladies' luncheons. But best not to serve it to gentlemen, one cookbook warned, as the fellas might make indelicate comments.
I wonder why?
Ba's Cranberry Holiday Salad
1/2 c. cold water
1 c. boiling water
1 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. lemon juice
1 c. crushed canned pineapple, drained
1 1/2 c. whole berry cranberry sauce
1c. finely chopped celery
1/2 c. chopped pecans
Soak gelatin in cold water 10 minutes to soften. Pour in boiling water to dissolve. Add sugar, salt, lemon juice, and pineapple. Allow to cool but not congeal. Stir in cranberry sauce, celery, and pecans. Pour into mold thatt has been rinsed with cold water and not dried. Chill till firm. Serves 8.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
But from its first bud in mid-May to its last bloom on Thanksgiving day, the yellow rose has performed valiantly and I've been unable to resist snapping its picture over and over again.
I still prefer pink roses -- but this particular yellow rose has won my heart.
Friday, November 27, 2009
This year's gathering was small -- Ethan and Aileen are in their new home in Atlanta and still settling in, Claui and her parents have gone to Arkansas to be with her sister, and my brother, who just visited, declined to stretch his stay into Thanksgiving. So we were seven -- and we all fit into the dining room.
Despite another oven malfunction (the turkey had to finish cooking on the grill and the sweet potatoes that were meant to be roasted ended up sauteed,) it was an excellent feast. We honored tradition -- but gave it some new twists.
Louise made some wonderfully exotic befores to accompany my usual turkey liver pate, as well as a gingery cranberry sauce. Naomi and Matt brought an amazing assortment of cheeses and Justin made the sweet potatoes. I'll share the menu below. (For my friends in the UK -- our crackers don't come with party hats -- they are what I think you would call savory biscuits,)
Turkey liver pate
Cucumber and grape salsa with mint and fennel
Miso and walnut pesto
Turkey basted with butter, red currant jelly, orange juice, and mustard
Dressing with celery, apples, and onions
Cranberry sauce with ginger
Green beans with pecans
Sweet potatoes sauteed in garlic oil garnished with fried sage leaves
Cranberry gelatin salad with celery, pineapple, and pecans
Frozen pumpkin mousse in a pecan crust
Port, Coffee, Glen Rothes single malt Scotch
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Today I'm giving thanks for friends and family and all the wonderful things that fill my life in this very special corner of the world.
And I'm also thankful for all of you -- my blog friends who expand my horizons and remind me how small the world is becoming.
Happy Thanksgiving to all! I wish you could join us at our table -- wouldn't that be an amazing gathering!
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
I returned to the Walnut cemetery yesterday, having been told by Nancy where to look for the Cantrell child's grave.
If I understood her correctly, it should be in this section, far at the back.
I didn't find any stones that said 'Cantrell,' but this little marker -- which may have been broken off -- with its uneven chiseled cross seems to be a likely candidate.
There was no sign at all of a playhouse -- no rotting boards or anything at all. This may or may not be the Cantrell child's resting place.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The wall of Blue Ridge Mountains,
Shapeless forms converge ...
Monday, November 23, 2009
Last Friday seemed like a good day to explore a graveyard. My brother was visiting from Alabama and I enlisted him to go with me to look for the Cantrell child's grave.
But first, some back story . . .
I posted a picture of the Walnut church cemetery a few weeks back and Nancy Meadows, the friend who so kindly shared her aunts' diaries with me, wrote to say that she remembered a playhouse with dolls in it built atop one of the graves in that cemetery.
Well, of course I wanted to know more and soon Nancy replied that it was the grave of a little girl -- a Cantrell.
Nancy said, "The family lived over on Straddle Top Mountain and there were a number of children (I believe that Jeter Cantrell is the last surviving child but could be wrong). The parents left the children alone to go to the store and the girl (who was 3-4 years old at the time) got out of the house and walked off with one of the family dogs. She was found frozen to death in the woods with the dog still beside her. My brother said that Daddy told him you could see the lanterns of people looking for her on Straddle Top Mountain. "
What a heart-breaking story!
Nancy is making inquiries to find out more. The play house is gone but I was hoping to find the grave so my brother and I wandered about, looking for Cantrells.
Some of the markers were illegible and some graves were marked only by rocks.
And I thought of the sorrow that must have come with the morning light.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Scones are a quick (especially if you have a food processor) and easy treat. When my niece was visiting last weekend, she asked for my recipe so I decided to fix some for dessert.
They did pretty well -- a little overdone on the bottom but still delicious. The recipe is below.
Your family and friends will thank you if you make these.
(From The Gourmet Cookbook)
(I changed various ingredients to match what I had on hand)
1 2/3 c. all-purpose flour (I used bread flour)
6 Tbs. sugar (plus more for sprinkling)
1 Tbs. baking powder
¾ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 1/3 c. old fashioned rolled oats (I used quick cooking)
11/2 sticks (12 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons (plus a little more for the top) (I used salted butter & reduced the salt above)
Freshly grated zest of two large navel oranges (omitted due to a total lack of oranges – but it sure sounds good)
2/3 cup butter milk (I used half and half, replacing about a tablespoon of it with cider vinegar to sour it.)
½ c. finely chopped dried apricots (I used dried cranberries -- some pecans would have been a nice addition.)
Preheat oven to 425. Put rack in middle. Butter a large baking sheet.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt in food processor. (Or in a bowl if you don’t have a processor). Add oats and pulse to mix. Or just mix). Add butter and pulse (or cut in with pastry cutter or two knives) till mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea sized lumps. Transfer to large bowl and stir in dried fruit.
In small bowl, combine buttermilk and zest, then stir in to flour mixture with a fork, stirring just till a sticky dough forms.
Turn out to lightly floured surface; and knead six times. Pat into a 1 inch thick round, dusting surface with more flour if needed.
Cut into eight wedges and transfer to buttered baking sheet. Melt a little more butter and brush the tops of the scones with it, then sprinkle with sugar. Bake till golden-brown, 15-18 minutes.