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  • Mary Kay

Doug's Favorite Cranberry Salad


You only need 4 ingredients for this super easy salad for the holidays!

This cranberry salad brings a lot of history to our family. Doug has made this for many years, and with only 4 ingredients it takes him just a few minutes to prepare. It's actually his Grandma J's recipe that she used to make and that his Mother also made for Thanksgiving family dinners. And, since I'm not a big fan of cranberries (sorry) he gets to eat it all at our table.


Doug usually makes it every fall when the cranberries and apples are at their freshest. It's a beautiful salad that you can make sweeter or leave it more tart, depending on your tastes. I remember Gram making a sweet cranberry salad for Thanksgiving Day to serve up in her beautiful stemmed cut glass bowl. Everyone oohed and awed over how the brilliant red color of the cranberries made such a gorgeous presentation. Her salad included a gelatin and some other ingredients. But, Doug's salad only takes 4 easy ingredients - one apple, one orange, one pound of cranberries and one cup of sugar. (At least it USED to include one pound of cranberries. It seems the bags of cranberries have decreased in weight. Years ago when he began making it, the bags were a full pound. However, the bag he bought the other day was only 12 ounces.) He still keeps the rest of the items at the same amounts.


He's picky about what apple he puts in the salad. He insists on a Red Delicious apple - no other. And, he uses a large navel orange - no seeds. The cranberries need to be firm and bright red - the freshest you can get, not frozen. He also insists on using the old food grinder that we inherited from his Grandma J, so I'm sure it must be well over 75 years old. We still store it in the original brown and green Universal brand box she stored it in. If she was alive today, she would be over well over 125 years old, so that gives you an idea how old the grinder is. It's low tech with nothing to break down.


It's probably the easiest salad you could make. The only prep is to wash the fruit. No peeling. Just take the stem off the apple and cut out the core and the seeds. Cut the orange and apple in quarters and crank them through the grinder. No need to use any electric appliance, but go ahead if you insist. I won't judge. It takes hardly any arm strength to crank the lever, just make sure you have the unit tightly attached to the counter or thick cutting board. He drops a cloth on the floor to soak up anything that might drip, which happens very infrequently. Get the kids involved, too. Get their muscles moving. They'll find the process interesting and fun. Kids love to watch the fruit spew out the end of the grinder.


4 Ingredients:

1 Apple, Red Delicious variety

1 Orange, navel - no seeds

1# Cranberries, Fresh not frozen, 12 oz - 16 oz. works

1 C Sugar


Just a few easy steps:

- Set up your grinder by attaching it to the counter or a thick, heavy cutting board.

- Wash the fruit.

- Core the apple, take the stem off and quarter it. Do not peel.

- Take the little stem base off the orange and quarter it. Do not peel.

- Put the cranberries through the grinder.

- Grind the fruit into a low sided bowl set up under the outtake of the grinder.

- Stir the ground fruit together with the sugar in a higher sided bowl and it's ready to serve! It's that simple. Of course, if you want it a little more tart, feel free to cut back on the sugar.

- I find the salad has melded it's flavors better by the next day, though he likes a small bowl as soon as he's done making it.


Serving ideas:

- This salad is very pretty just as it is, but serving it on a leaf of green lettuce sets off the red and orange of the fruit.

- Sprinkle a few chopped pecans on top to add another color and a little crunch.

- If you want it to serve it as a fall holiday dessert, add a dollop of whipped topping with a touch of cinnamon sprinkled on top.

- As a festive dessert this salad dresses up a Christmas holiday dinner by serving it in Gram's cut glass footed bowl with her silver serving spoon.


It's fun to make recipes from the "olden days." And, this is one Doug remembers from his childhood days at family holiday dinners. For the holidays, all the cousins, aunts and uncles would gather in his Grandparents' farmhouse in a coulee not too far from the Mississippi River. The kids would escape outside to play in the Wisconsin snow while the farm women assembled the holiday dinner; each woman brought their signature dish to share. Breathless from playing hard outside the kids would scramble in, stomping snow off their boots, to gather around the tables for the big meal. Smaller card tables were set up the little ones, with adults and older children at the big dinner table. It was quite an honor when a child was old enough to advance to the big people table. Memories are what food is all about, and it isn't any different here or in any other part of the world.


Enjoy your memories with Doug's Cranberry Salad and Bake your own Memories.










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