December 21, 2015

Updating a Holiday Food Tradition

One of Dan's favorite accompaniments to turkey is cranberry jelly. I've tried homemade recipes for cranberry relish, but he prefers the non-chunky jellied kind, so every year a can of cranberry jelly is on my Thanksgiving shopping list. This year I had trouble finding it without high fructose corn syrup, and that particular ingredient is on my list of non-negotiables. If the label lists HFCS as one of the ingredients, I don't buy it. If I can't find the product without it, I do without. But how could I not have one of my Beloved's favorite Thanksgiving foods? The obvious answer - make my own!

Cranberry jelly is so simple to make that I now wonder why I haven't been doing it all along.

Cranberry Jelly Sauce

1 bag (12 ounces) of fresh cranberries
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of water

Combine, simmer until the cranberries are tender, and run it through the Foley food mill. That's it. Some recipes call for the addition of gelatin, but I chose the simpler, 3-ingredient version.

The result was a thick, not too sweet, delightfully cranberry flavored sauce. Better than the canned stuff! And it made plenty. Dan commented that it reminded him of jelly donuts, so the following Sunday we had cranberry jelly rolls for brunch.

I used a simple sweet yeast roll recipe, used my pastry injector to fill
the buns with jelly, and dipped each in a powdered sugar/milk glaze.

Our traditional Christmas breakfast has always been Scotch eggs with English muffins and cinnamon butter. These jelly rolls could easily replace the English muffins!

That only used up part of the jelly. Plus I had saved the cranberry pulp from the Foley, so I decided to make a sweet potato cranberry cake and use the rest of the sauce as a topping.

Cranberry sauce topping a slice of sweet potato cranberry cake.

Sweet Potato Cranberry Cake

1 quart home-canned sweet potatoes, pureed
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups flour
1.5 cups sugar
2 tsp baking soda
dash of buttermilk, sour milk, whey, kefir, or yogurt
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup dried cranberries

Cream sugar and butter, add eggs, vanilla, sweet potatoes, and then your dash of sour (to interact with the baking soda). Combine dry ingredients, add them to you creamed mixture and mix well. Bake in greased and floured bundt pan at 325° for 45 minutes to an hour (or until done).

I usually make cakes without frosting, except for birthdays. The sauce was a nice not-too-sweet topping for a holiday style dessert.

What foods make the holidays for you? Do you every experiment with others or upgrade the traditional recipes? Please share yours! We all love good recipes.

54 comments:

Mama Pea said...

Holey-smoley! Heck with any recipes I make; I'm on my way to your house for some of that lusciousness! Those jelly rolls . . . oh, my. Sigh.

Dawn McHugh said...

Growing cranberries is easy to, they like similar conditions to blueberries :-)

Judy said...

Love the jelly idea! Wonder when the food industry (cause it is an industry) is going to wise up and realize they are loosing business over HFCS?

And the pulp? Do I see fruit leathers in you and Dan's future or are the animals in for a treat?

Penelope White said...

I make a similar cranberry sauce (except mine has quite a bit of Jack Daniels). I use the extra sauce for smoothies.

PioneerPreppy said...

Mrs. PP loves Cranberries while I am kinda meh about them. Doesn't matter anyway couldn't grow a cranberry any better than we can grow blueberries around here.

DFW said...

Oh my, so easy. I make the chunky kind of sauce but the rest of the family likes the jelly kind. think I'll bookmark this for next year. Thanks! Oh, & those rolls ... Merry Christmas to you & Dan!

kymber said...

although Dan likes the jelly - we prefer chunky. i make a chunky cranberry sauce with pears, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. jambaloney likes it on turkey sandwiches the next day and then also on toast, ice cream - whatever. i like to have a jar made every month or so.

if i liked jelly i would make your recipe but anything that jiggles (like jelly or jello) gives me the creeps. we have been eliminating HFCS for a while now and i agree with you and Judy - the food industry is getting hit pretty hard with people giving up on all of the crap that contains HFCS!

sending much love! your friend,
kymber

Kris said...

That sweet potato cranberry cake looks amazing. But really? No flour of any kind? Wow. Yet it looks like cake and has a lovely brown crust. Can't wait to try this.

Michelle said...

Like you, HFCS is non-negotiable. Not only because of the high-fructose part, but also because of the GMO corn. Love your solution, and associated recipes! I'll be on the lookout for more cranberries!

Michelle said...

I wonder; could this homemade sauce be water-bath canned?

Leigh said...

They would be lovely for company too! :)

Leigh said...

I tried to grow cranberries a number of years ago but the died. I have lovely blueberry bushes, however, so I may have to try them again!

Leigh said...

The pulp would be wonderful for fruit leather, great idea!

Awhile back I know they tried to change the name of HRCS to "corn sugar." As if. Apparently they weren't successful with the redefinition and now I see more and more products with "no high fructose corn syrup" on the label. :)

Leigh said...

Smoothies! What a great idea. I'm kinda curious in your extra ingredient :), does the JD flavor dominate? (Which is why I never cared for liquor in eggnog- it ruins the flavor :).

Leigh said...

Dan and I are the same, except the other way around. But this cranberry sauce is really tasty. Now I need to see if I can grow some cranberry bushes along with my blueberries.

Leigh said...

I always liked the chunky kind too, especially with oranges, but I think Dan likes the jelly more. This was one we're both happy with.

Merry Christmas to you too!

Leigh said...

Oh my, Kymber. Pears, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg sound wonderfully delicious.

The nice thing about this jelly is that it isn't jello-like. It really does make a nice thick sauce.

I'm going to have to try yours though!

Leigh said...

Oh no! I forgot the flour! Yes, it takes 2 cups (since added to the recipe). Whew, I'm glad you caught that. And I thought I proof read the post!

Leigh said...

Yes, the GMO corn is a big part of the problem. The other is that our bodies really can't assimilate HFCS as food. I've read that it's now classified as an obesogen because of how it interferes with lipid metabolism and causes weight gain. Not good stuff.

Leigh said...

Michelle, that is an excellent question. I don't know why not. I'll have to look into that for next year. Cranberries are a seasonal item here and hence expensive. But if I can grow my own, I should can my own!

Cozy Thyme Cottage said...

I am trying to avoid HFC also. I didn't think to buy cranberry sauce yet but your recipe looks easy to do. The rolls look so tempting. I don't know why we don't have cranberry sauce anytime except holidays. Sounds like it might be a good addition through out the winter! Nancy

Renee Nefe said...

wish I lived in cranberry country! :D

Quinn said...

That cake sounds amazing! But then, you know how I feel about cranberries...just finished the most recent cake and already planning the next ;)

Frugal in Derbyshire said...

This sounds good. If I had a lot of cranberries I would increase the sugar and turn this into a jelly conserve, that would keep for several months.
The downer is that my husband has been told that he can't eat cranberries because he is Warfarin. (though this looks a bit like an over reaction by doctors to a couple of cases)

Marilyn in SW MO said...

Leigh, I have used your recipe for the cranberries but I did not puree them. Two years ago I did can the sauce which was rather thick since all the pulp was included and it was wonderful. It should can up nicely. I do so enjoy your blog. Just wish we had enough land to have goats. Sure would be making some of that cheese! Christmas blessings to you both.

Leigh said...

Nancy, you're right. Cranberries only seem to show up at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I was at the grocery store this morning and looked for fresh cranberries, but there were none. That was disappointing, because they would go with either turkey or ham. Or beef, or pork. I really need to see about growing my own.

Leigh said...

Me too! Although I do know there are two different kinds of cranberries. One requires a bog, the other doesn't. I don't have a bog so I'll have to see if I can establish the other kind. :)

Leigh said...

Quinn, your cranberry cake puts mine to shame! Mine is pretty wimpy, but after I read your post I thought about upgrading that recipe too. :)

Leigh said...

So cranberries have blood thinning abilities? I didn't know that. Cranberry conserve sounds good. :)

Leigh said...

Marilyn, hello and thank you for your comment! It answers the question about can it be canned. Do you remember any of the details? I'm assuming it can be water bath canned. How long?

Jason and Michelle said...

It floors me how many things have corn syrup added.
I think I will look into growing cranberry bushes. I looked into blueberry, but it seems here it's hit or miss.

1st Man said...

Michelle beat me to it I was going to ask if this could be water bath canned. Does it thicken more when refrigerated? And one other out of left field question did you have a post about the canned sweet potatoes? We plan to grow them again next year and I'd like to have them canned for future use.

As always, you have some awesome advice!

Leigh said...

You know, the blueberries that I've planted have been slow to take and slow to grow, and as I mentioned, the little cranberry bushes didn't make it at all. My established blueberry, OTOH, is a champion producer. But it's been around for a very long time (according to a neighbor). I think a different location may help, so I'll try again and baby the heck out of the little guys.

Part of my problem is that if we have a dry spell, it's impossible to water everything. I usually save the water for the garden and let the rest struggle on it's own.

Leigh said...

Yes, I do have a canning sweet potato post, here and I'm amazed I didn't link to it! I usually over-link, LOL. The gist is to can chunks only (USDA says not to can puree) at 10 lb pressure, 90 minutes for quarts. I steamed them at bit first to removed the skins. Added sugar is optional.

Canned sweets aren't as good as fresh steamed or baked, but it was a save for me and they are wonderful for baked goods. I didn't drain before I pureed, so they were liquidy enough to not need much additional liquid. The dash of kefir was for leavening with the baking soda.

Farmer Barb said...

I think you all will need more chill hours than you have. Try Raintree Nurseries for planting stock.

Farmer Barb said...

Oh, MY! Cranberries are also a very nice nutritional punch up to foods. All that vitamin C and fiber! Yea for New England's favorite! My kids used to go to cranberry bogs for field trips when we lived in Massachusetts!

Farmer Barb said...

The bog is for the harvest, just so you know. They don't flood them until it is time to bring them in. There are bogs all along coastal MA. They need sandy soil.

Leigh said...

Also try Stark Bros. That's where I got mine. Growing zone is listed as 2 - 7 (I'm 7). I don't know about the chilling hours because we never got that far.

Leigh said...

The plants I got from Stark Bros made no recommendation for a bog, so it would be interesting to research that more.

Leigh said...

They are wonderfully nutritious as well as tasty, aren't they? Too bad they're only available this time of year.

Marilyn in SW MO said...

Yes, Leigh, it was by water bath. I used the recommended time from the Ball Blue Book which is just 10 minutes for pints. It is nice to have some on hand and, as you said, to know what when into the making of it.

Leigh said...

Marilyn, thank you for that. I ran and got Ball Blue Book, and sure enough, there it was. If I can find a source of cranberries, I will definitely can some.

Michelle said...

You'd only benefit from cranberries' vitamin C if you made a fresh relish, as vitamin C is destroyed by heat.

Sandy said...

Leigh,

I've made fresh cranberries with orange pieces, and canned them to use over the years. Everyone loves them however, I haven't tried making cranberry jelled (like you get at the stores). I'm going to have to try your recipes for the cranberries and your sweet potato cake.

Leigh said...

Very true Michelle.

Michelle said...

I was at the local warehouse grocery store today and their big, beautiful WI cranberries were 98 cents a bag. I grabbed eight; homemade sauce, here I come!

Farmer Barb said...

It's really for large scale harvest. These are Ocean Spray bogs.

Farmer Barb said...

If vitamin C is destroyed by heat, how can they pasteurize orange juice? Does it have to do with the length of time at high heat?

Leigh said...

Good questions. After pasteurization they add it back in. I believe it's listed as an ingredient on the label. I'm not sure of how much C is destroyed, or at what temperatures. It would be interesting to research.

Leigh said...

I like the cranberry and orange too, and I like Kymber's idea of cranberries, pears, and spices. I'd probably only be the only one eating it, however! :)

Leigh said...

Score! I'd love to find them at that price. I'll have to keep my eyes peeled. :)

Bill said...

Our traditional Christmas breakfast has always included fried oysters. Strangely we'd only have them at one meal per year--Christmas breakfast. I'd wondered about that for years and I think I've finally discovered the answer.

It seems that back in the old days trains from the coast would carry oysters and oranges out into the country at Christmas time. They became holiday treats for country people, who could only get them once a year. And so, we eat fried oysters on Christmas morning!

Of course we don't raise oysters here, so in the spirit of homesteading and seasonal eating we're going to have faux fried oysters made from cauliflower we grew--which are amazingly delicious. :)

Merry Christmas Leigh!

Leigh said...

Merry Christmas Bill!

That is an interesting food tradition for Christmas, and you reminded me that my great-grandfather used to have raw oysters with his Christmas dinner. He and my great-grandmother were from Cape Cod, which I always thought explained it. I should add that he was the only one who indulged. :)

Is there a recipe for your faux fried oysters on your blog? Sounds better than the real thing, LOL (although I admit that fried oysters are quite tasty. I never could get up the nerve to try the raw ones).

Bill said...

Cherie found the recipe in a vegan cookbook. She made po boy sandwiches out of them and they were awesome. Taste and texture very similar to the real thing. Honestly, at this point I prefer the cauliflower! I didn't post the recipe but maybe Cherie did on her blog. If not I'll suggest she might want to do that.