Posted in Christmas, Classic, Comfort Food, Cranberry, Dessert, Fall, Family Friendly, Family Recipe, Holiday, Make Ahead, Potluck, Thanksgiving, Vintage, Winter

Grandma’s Cranberry Salad

Thanksgiving?!  How did that get here so fast?!

I wouldn’t normally post another recipe this close to the last one but I wanted to make sure you all had it before Turkey Day!

I honestly didn’t think I was going to be able to write this post when I started.  As some of you know, we lost my Grandma back in August and it’s been an emotional road since then. This Thanksgiving seems especially hard because this time last year is when she got sick and she never bounced back.  It’s a really bittersweet week for me and I’m getting ready to celebrate my favorite holiday.

I don’t know if I’ve ever had a time when I’ve been as nostalgic about recipes as I have been the last few months.  Everything seems to be reminding me of my Grandma this fall just like all the fresh veggies and gardens remind me of my Pappa in the summer.  A few weeks ago I found myself crying over melted marshmallows while I was making Rice Krispie treats.  My Grandma used to start making sheet pans of treats a month before Halloween and freeze them in preparation for trick-or-treaters.

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Today I started my prep for Thanksgiving dinner and I told myself I was going to be strong.  I got out my recipe card for Cranberry Salad that my Grandma had lovingly typed up for me soon after I got married (she typed everything!) and gathered all my things to start cooking.  Surely I’ll be able to get through one recipe without tears, right?!  Wrong.  As I started prepping the cranberries I had to fight back the water works.  Cranberries make me cry, okay?!

I did stop myself and think about the first time I remember making this with my Grandma though.  Now my Grandma wasn’t a huge fan of cranberries (I’ll save that story for later) but every Thanksgiving and Christmas this recipe made it to the table.  When I was little I remember her getting out the cast iron meat grinder to grind everything up and then she’d let me help put everything together.  One time, when I was really little, I remember asking her what cranberries tasted like.  I loved her cranberry salad but had never tried a cranberry on its own.  Wow was I in for a surprise!  I still remember her laughing at me as I puckered up and made a funny face!

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Grandma’s Cranberry Salad

2 boxes strawberry Jello
1 pound cranberries
1 orange, peeled and seeded
1 apple, cored, peeled and seeded
2-2 ½ cups sugar (I only do 2 because I like it more tart)
Nuts (optional, I usually leave them out but pecans or walnuts would be preferable here)
Cool Whip, for serving

Grind cranberries, orange, and apple in a food processor. Add sugar and let sit until juice starts to release from fruit. Drain the liquid into another bowl. Use the liquid as a part of the cold water when making the jello. Continue making jello according to package instructions. Add ground ingredients. Put mixture in a 9×13 pan. Top with nuts if using. Refrigerate until set. Serve topped with Cool Whip.

Source: My Grandma’s recipe book

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This Cranberry Salad is one of our family’s staples during the holidays and I didn’t think it would be right to leave it off the table this year.

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My mom recently gave me my Grandma’s recipe book which will forever be one of my most cherished treasures (and seeing her handwriting brings on the tears again!).  I can’t wait to share some of these family recipes!
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Me and my Grandma in the kitchen
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Thanksgiving feast with cranberry salad right in the middle!
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My Grandma had a sassy side!
Posted in 4th of July, Canning, Classic, Cook out, Grilling, Pantry Staples, Patriotic, pickled, Portable/Picnic, Preserving, Sandwiches, Summer, Vegetarian, Veggies, Vintage

Summer Bounty – Bread & Butter Pickles

You all know I say I am NOT a big fan of summer.  I’m really not.  I don’t like the humidity.  I burn when I look at the sun.  The only time I “like” to sweat is when I’m working out or cleaning my apartment or something.  I’m  not a super big beach/pool person so I could kind of care less.  I know that’s sacrilege for a lot of my friends!

BUT…

The more I think about growing up in rural Ohio (I’ve been getting seriously nostalgic lately) the more I realize there are things about summer that I absolutely love.  So many of my favorite memories as a kid happened during the summer time.  And so many of those memories are wrapped up around our garden, the local farmers, spending time harvesting lots of veggies and spending a lot of time with my Grandma in the kitchen as she cleaned, prepped, and canned green beans, beets, tomatoes, made jam, and made her own homemade pickles.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I can’t stand pickles.  Well I should say, I don’t like dill pickles.  Growing up I would tolerate my Grandma’s bread and butter pickles but get anything dill anywhere near me and I would run the other way.  As I’ve gotten older and my tastebuds have grown with me I have finally discovered a love of all things pickl-y.  I’m still not a fan of dill but my world has been opened up to so many amazing ways of preservation in the last few years that I’ve been much more adventurous and have found some things I can’t live without.

One of my latest summer staples has become the humble bread and butter pickle for sure.  It’s amazing how easy they are to make and how just this simple little pickle will make a burger, or even a simple turkey sandwich something really special.

I’ve been working to perfect a new smoked turkey recipe that isn’t quite ready for the world yet but I had to go ahead and share this quick and classic pickle recipe that you can enjoy all summer!!

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I need to get my Grandma’s recipe but this one has become my go-to!

Bread & Butter Pickles

2 pounds medium Kirby cucumbers
2 cups small dice sweet onion
¼ cup kosher salt
1 pound ice
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
½ teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 cups cider vinegar
1 bay leaf, torn into pieces
3 whole cloves
½ jalapeno pepper, sliced paper thin

 

Sterilize three quart canning jars, along with the rings and lids. (I recommend checking out the Ball canning website for tips if you’ve never canned before, http://www.freshpreserving.com/canningmenu.html.

 

Cut the blossom end off the cucumbers and slice the cucumbers into 1/8-inch thick slices. To draw out the excess liquid and increase the crunch, layers the cucumber slices with onion, salt, and ice in a glass or stainless steel container. Weight with a plate large enough to cover all the cucumbers and keep them submerged when the ice melts. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

 

Drain the cucumbers and onions, put them in a large stainless steel, and add the sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, turmeric, vinegar, bay leaf, cloves and jalapeno. Bring the mixture to a simmer over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Using a digital thermometer to check, make sure that the internal temperature of the cucumbers reaches 180° and stays there for 90 seconds. Skim off any foam that rises to the top.

 

Divide the hot cucumbers among the sterilized jars. Ladle the remaining hot vinegar mixture over the cucumbers, leaving a ¼-inch headspace. Wipe the rims and threads clean. Place the lids and rings on the jars and tighten the rings. Cool the jars on a clean dish towel or a rack, not directly on the countertop.

 

Refrigerate for at least 1 week to let the pickles cure before eating (you can skip this step but the wait will be worth it!). Unopened, the pickles will keep for up to 6 months in the refrigerator. Once opened, they will keep for up to 3 weeks longer in the refrigerator.

 

Source: Heritage, Sean Brock

 

Posted in Autumn, Baked, Baking, Classic, Comfort Food, Dessert, Fall, Holiday, Nuts, Pie, Portable/Picnic, Thanksgiving, Vintage, Winter

Pie in the Sky

I grew up in a small town, Fletcher, Ohio. Well, it’s considered a village actually. Go ahead, look it up on a map. It’s there. Straight up I-75 between Dayton and Toledo. It’s one of those towns you’ll miss if you happen to blink. Unless of course you get stopped at one of the two traffic lights where you’ll enjoy a view of the post office and funeral home. If you take a left you’ll pass the Methodist Church on your way out to the grain elevator. Every time I have a chance to visit I know I’m home when I see that grain elevator.

I have many fond memories of growing up in this little piece of the Midwest. When I graduated from high school and moved to the big city for college I pretty much ran and never wanted to look back. The older I’ve gotten the more I realize how important that town and it’s people were to shaping me in to the woman I’ve become today.

Many of my fondest memories revolve around church and community gatherings.  I would always look forward to serving Thanksgiving dinner with the youth group at church or gathering with the neighbors at the firehouse for the monthly fish fry.  I miss those small town traditions.

One of my most favorite parts of those gatherings were the pies that all the town ladies would make. Sugar cream, Dutch apple, peach, lemon meringue, pecan. Nothing says comfort and tradition to me like a big slice of pie!

As we near the holidays I’ve found myself getting really nostalgic.  In light of all the scary things happening in the world all I want to do is cling tight to tradition. Let’s not forget all the things we are thankful for this season.

Today I am most thankful for my supportive husband. AND it happens to be his birthday so I made his favorite pie!

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Mom’s Pecan Pie
3 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups pecan halves
1 frozen or refrigerated pie crust (or homemade if you have time)

Preheat oven to 350.

Whisk all ingredients but pecans together. Stir in pecans. Fill prepared pie crust. Bake for 40-50 minutes until center is almost set (cover with aluminum foil if crust and pecans start to get too dark). Remove from oven and cool completely, 2-4 hours, before serving.

Source: Mom’s recipe book (I think she got it from a Betty Crocker cookbook she’s had for as long as I can remember)