Wistful Wednesday #1

woman cooking near little cute girl on table Photo by Mikhail Nilov on Pexels.com

I woke up this morning thinking about recipes and food. Whether it’s Hilda’s Rhubarb Crunch, First Snow Cherry Pie, or Mom’s Goulash, for me, what I cook is almost always linked to a memory. So… Here we go.

A cranberry recipe brings on a wistful feeling.

I make cranberry relish for Thanksgiving. Hardly anyone likes it. That in itself makes me think of Dad, who insisted the Thanksgiving wasn’t complete without Mincemeat pie. Leave it to the English to think suet could make a wonderfully nostalgic pie.

I’m not going to share Dad’s mincemeat pie, because I don’t like it. But I will share that Dad’s namesake loves it, and I think he makes it every year, much to the horror of his children.

Instead, I’m sharing Mom’s cranberry relish. Hardly anyone likes it until they do. It’s an acquired taste, like coffee or wine. Loved-One asks for it when it’s not Thanksgiving. Miss K loves it. I love it. I think you will too.

In the old days, when Mom taught me how to make it, we used a meat grinder to pulverize the cranberries and orange. She attached the grinder to a breadboard and a Little Kid sat on the breadboard and added cranberries a little at a time and then slices of orange. Eventually, this Little Kid became a Big Kid, and I did the grinding. When I grew up and had kids of my own, I graduated to a Kitchen Aid grinder, which made things much easier but still engaged a Little Kid to add the goods. This year, with no Little Kids in the house, I used a food processor. Oh my! That was easy! What took me so long?

What you need for this recipe:

1 Large box ofJello (the box that takes 2 c. of boiling water) You can use any flavor, but I prefer a red color because it brightens up the dish.

1 large bag of cranberries (back in the day, a large bag was a pound, now it’s 12 ounces)

1 large orange, quartered (I don’t think it matters a bit what kind of orange, but it does need to be large. Or you can use 2 small oranges.)

1 scant cup of sugar.

1 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans (probably other nuts will work too, but I wouldn’t use anything salted.

How you prepare this recipe:

  1. Put the Jello powder in a large glass bowl.
  2. Add some sugar (I don’t put in a whole cup because I like tartness more than sweet.)
  3. Add two cups of boiling water and stir with a metal spoon until no crystals remain. Using a glass bowl and a metal spoon seems to be important for getting the geletin to work just right. Don’t ask me why. I could consult my Chemistry of Cooking book, but that’d be a whole other type of post and this one is about building memories. I have some bad memories of Jello, plastic bowls, and wooden spoon fiascos.
  4. Fill a 2 cup measuring cup with ice cubes and then add water to the two cup line.
  5. Pour the ice cubes and water in the bowl of warm Jello mixture and stir until the ice cubes melt. (Often the Jello will thicken, but not always.)
  6. Put in the refrigerator until you finish with the next step.
  7. Process the cranberries and the orange with the “chop” setting on your food processors or use a meat grinder. (Yes, the whole orange, peels seeds and all. Well, not the label.) The pieces should be about the size of a clipped fingernail, if you don’t grow your nails too long. If you do, then maybe the size of the eraser on the end of a new #2 pencil.
  8. Add the cranberry and orange to the Jello mixture.
  9. Mix in the chopped nuts. (Don’t put the nuts through the food processor. That will make them too small.)
  10. Refrigerate until set.

How to enjoy this recipe:

The cranberry relish freezes well, so you can have it all year long. You’ll probably have left-overs until your family acquires the taste for nostalgic things.

I like to put it in a fancy bowl for serving. It’s good on its own. Love-One and I like it on steel-cut oats for breakfast and on cornmeal pancakes. I may share the cornmeal pancake recipe next week because that recipe has memories attached, too.

What is Thanksgiving without cranberries?

Do you have recipes that bring up memories? I’d love to hear about them. Please leave a link to your blog/instagram/facebook post. I have a blogger friend who posts wonderful, short essays along with her recipes. Today she wrote about a new way to make potato pancakes. Hmmm.. now my recipe has some great memories attached to it. I can feel the memories piling up.

Before I meander to far into my nostalgia woods, please hop over and check out Baking in a Tornado. I’m confident you’ll love Karen as much as I do.