Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas Cranberry Salad

I have never been much of a cranberry fan. Or a Jello fan either. I must harbor strange childhood memories:

  • A family holiday tradition was making a cranberry relish that had only three ingredients -- freshly ground whole cranberries and whole oranges, sweetened by as much sugar as you wanted (or not.) The grinding was fun, but I really didn't like the texture of the relish. My adult senses are wiser.
  • I distrusted any food that you could see through. Or that jiggled. I didn't think it was fun food;  it just reminds me of bad school cafeteria fare. Although cafeteria food has much improved, I do believe Jello is still a staple. I would eat it only to strengthen my nails.
This salad was different. It has been the regular contribution of a family to our annual church Christmas dinner. Last year I was so bold as to ask the man (who I didn't know too well) for the recipe. He immediately began rattling off the precise measurements.

"Wait a minute, wait a minute, Dave," I said. "Let me get a pen!" I was really surprised that the recipe had Jello in it; although I wondered as I was writing things down, if plain gelatin and fruit juice would be a good way to make this. But first, try it as written. I did . . . and I still liked it.

After I thanked him and started walking away, Dave, the retired accountant, said, "You know, it's not a cheap salad to make." and then he began itemizing the cost of each ingredient. Even the math-challenged me recognized that it wasn't a bargain. But it is Christmas, after all, and generosity prevails.

When I asked what his family called it, he just shrugged and said, "We always just called it Christmas salad."

So that's what we'll call it here.

Christmas Cranberry Salad
3 cups whole cranberries
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 large package raspberry Jello (any red flavor will do)
1 cup grapes, seeded and halved
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup crushed pineapple, undrained

Cook the cranberries over medium heat  until they have popped. Add the sugar and Jello and stir until dissolved. Remove from stove-top and cool until the mixture starts to thicken; then add the grapes, walnuts and pineapple. Chill  until ready to serve.

Merry Christmas to you and yours . .  and best wishes for a happy new year!