Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Red Thanksgiving

My friends are never ones to do things the normal way if they can come up with different rules to the game. So we have our own traditions. When someone hosts a holiday party, they don't divide up what people should bring by item. I'm not told to bring cranberry sauce. I'm told what color of food to bring. My color this year is red as it is most years because I always ask for red. The assumption is that I will bring bring any traditional red things for the meal - cranberry sauce - but the only rule is that my food contains something red in it. I'm not restricted to just red, but the food has to contain a major red component.

I added to the Iron Chef red challenge by trying to add something harvested from the garden into every dish. Drinks were a dismal failure in this regard. I'm bringing red wine and cranberry juice. Store bought with no additions. I score low on the Iron Chef scale for those.

(Crackers not opened yet but they go on the left side of the plate)
Notice the use of red lettuce as a garnish

I did better with the appetizer. In the past I've often brought shrimp with cocktail sauce, but this year I changed to smoked pink salmon (pink is considered a shade of red so it counts-I know it is almost orange, but I'm going with it). To add things from the garden I used some of my raspberry jalapeno jelly and mixed it into the cream cheese for a garden red addition. To spice it up some more I added my own pickled serrano peppers and chopped garden green onions on the side.

This year I decided soup was on the menu. Minestrone soup has an overall red hue due to the addition of tomato sauce - or would have if I hadn't added so much pesto. I picked it so I could add a lot of items harvested from the garden: tomato sauce, cranberry beans (sadly their red color doesn't hold in cooking), onions, garlic, oregano, basil, green beans, zucchini, carrots (some were Atomic Red), and spinach. Chef Green challenged me on the addition of copious green items, but I countered with the rules that stated multicolored items were encouraged.

The only addition to the main meal was in the form of cranberries. My family has a tradition of making cranberry ice every year which is just a frozen cranberry sauce. I grew up with it so it must be at all my Thanksgivings. Yes I indeed asked for red for a reason. The recipe is pretty simple:

Cranberry Ice

  • 12 oz cranberries
  • 3/4 to 1 c sugar
  • packet of unflavored gelatin
  • juice from one lemon
  • 1/4 t salt

Dissolve the gelatin in 3/4c water and leave to the side. Barely cover cranberries with water and boil until soft (about 15 minutes). Strain through a sieve to remove skin and seeds. Put back on stove. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Add remaining ingredients and gelatin. Stir and cool. At this point you could either just put it in the freezer like my mom does or you could put it in an ice cream maker like I did. I don't get originality points since it comes every year. I don't get garden points since it contains nothing in the garden, but I do get taste points at least according to my cousin who is missing it this year.

There is nothing in there that is from the garden, so in addition I made a cranberry chutney. It was pretty good until I added the Scotch. Note to self: don't use an Islay Scotch in cranberry sauce. That peaty taste is really an acquired taste. From the garden I used onions and serrano peppers. So I get garden and originality points, but I think some will love it and some will detest it.

I knew dessert would have to include raspberry jelly. It is red, sweet and from my garden so was the obvious choice. I think I don't get any originality points for using it as a dessert ingredient, but surely the minestrone soup and raspberry cream cheese will give me bonus points as non-obvious garden reds. But what recipe should I use?

I had two: thumbprint cookies and lemon raspberry pie. The thumbprint cookies use all basic ingredients and are so buttery and delicious. The pie's negatives are that it uses canned milk and a premade graham cracker crust (I'll make a regular crust but I don't like having graham crackers in the house). But on the pie's side it is Thanksgiving which is just another name for the Festival of Pies. In addition the recipe was given to me by a relative on Thanksgiving. So the pie won out. The cookies will have to wait for their turn in the spotlight. I'm thinking Christmas which is surely the Festival of Cookies and Cakes.

I hope y'all have a happy Thanksgiving.


  1. The theme and the food are winners on the originality scale. It all looks delicious.

  2. Well you nailed it, it's all looking scrumptiously red !
    Wishing you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving.

  3. Everything looks delicious! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, Daphne!

    Love, Thomas, Marc and Jonathan

  4. That cranberry ice looks scrumptious! Got to try that one and soon.

  5. NellJean, thanks.

    miss m, and a Happy Thanksgiving to you too.

    Thomas, I hope your Thanksgiving was delicious too.

    kirsapFG, I do love it. If I end up with any land at a new house I want to grow cranberries with my blueberries. That way I'd get to have every dish with something from the garden.

  6. I love that cranberry ice. and I LOVE the idea of asking guests to bring a color. What a fun way to get people involved. I'm sure your host(ess) love your red foods!

  7. Oh, I just read a book on berries and am inspired to grow lingonberries - you know, for the cranberry kind of thing minus the bog!

  8. All of this looks great! Cranberry ice... oh my. I'm a huge fan of cranberry and I'm going to have to give that a whirl.

  9. Hi Daphne, I have an award for you on my blog, I hope you will accept it.But will understand if you don't do awards and things. M x