Norman Rockwell brought the all American image of holiday Utopia to life for generations to come. But long before it was reduced to a bowl shaped red gelatinous marvel in an infamous print, the glowing red gem known as a cranberry was so much more.
The natives of what would become the New England States used these beauties as more than just a food but as dyes and medicine as well. Early settlers counted on them to treat scurvy and other illnesses. Would be presidents even traded them to one another in return for books and information. Somewhere through the lines of history this fabulous, once treasured fruit has been displaced and almost forgotten. It has been demoted to nothing more than a can shaped ambiguous goo to be pushed around on your plate until, when the perfect moment arises, to be hidden under the table and fed to the anxiously waiting family dog.
Some of us do nothing more with the glittering red fruit than pouring a splash of its juice over ice, or suffer an even worse fate, being over looked all together. OH HOW THE MIGHTY HAVE FALLEN! Many folks are perfectly content to let it be at that and nothing more.
However if you are looking for ways to restore these beauties to their former glory, there are a number of ways you can do so. If you are up for a road trip, head on over to a little town in Wisconsin. Every year Stone Lake, WI holds their very own Cranberry Festival, complete with a royal coronation and dinner, wine tasting, crafting fair and even a marsh tour.
For those who might want to stay closer to home, there are a number of ways to add cranberries to your holiday table. Stuffing, breads, and muffins provide you an opening to reintroduce the noble cranberry back into your diet.
Looking for an old world flare? You can simply simmer a quart of the fruit with a cup of water until it resembles marmalade. Remove from the stovetop and stir in a pound of brown sugar and strain and serve. Another option is use molasses in place of the brown sugar. For a more modern flavor add the rind of orange or lemon or even add a cup of red wine while simmering.
Here are just a few ideas to help you bring back this old time favorite to your family.
May there always be a place at your table and in your heart for those you hold dear. Happy eating, folks.