Monday, November 11, 2013

November...It's On!!

Cranberry Bog...A gorgeous Autumn site! 
Almost mid-November, and we are full on Thanksgiving! When I recently sold my larger home and was looking for a smaller one, the question would always arise "Can I host Thanksgiving here?" If the answer was no, we'd move on. It's my day! How can it not be? It's all about family, friends and food! My three favorite "F" words! It's also the official start of the frenzy holiday season.

So to me, it's just the best day! From the first beat of the drum in the annual Thanksgiving Day parade, to the late night turkey sandwich, I savor every minute. I don't think that there is another holiday steeped in so much tradition and memories.

Speaking of which, I can't enter the Thanksgiving arena without going back many, many years to when I was a young reporter sent by my editor into cranberry bogs nestled in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. Cranberries grow well in sandy soil conditions making the bogs of this pine covered acreage perfect! Quick lesson on harvesting cranberries is required so you can visualize this wondrous site. First, cranberries float (as so many of you crafters know), so a specialized tractor travels through the lush fields stripping the berries from their plants. Then, the fields are flooded with water, the berries rise to the top where they are corralled and loaded into crates.

Cranberries are harvested in September and October. I remember my outing took place on a rather chilly, late October day. The bright blue autumn sky reflecting off of the deep crimson colored red ponds was visually stunning. It is a site I will always remember. Also, I learned that day that it is almost a certain that cranberries were at the very first Thanksgiving since northern native Indians tribes used them in the making of pemmican, a primitive jerky formed with venison, cranberries and nuts. A high protein snack that was used frequently in trades. Apparently, it stored well, lasting for months. Perfect for travel which worked well since we essentially started chasing them off their land right after the pumpkin pie was served.

Enough said...
One more note on this favorite holiday staple. We might want to find a way to incorporate the consumption of cranberries into our diets year round. The Proanothcyanidins found in in this small but powerful fruit can prevent painful urinary tract infections by inhibiting E. coli bacteria from attaching to the urinary tract wall. In fact, The National Kidney Foundation recommends drinking at least one large glass of cranberry juice a day to help maintain urinary tract health. I will admit that I don't consume it on a regular basis. However, I am very fond of the "Malibu Bay Breeze" which is made with coconut rum, cranberry & pineapple juice. All healthy fruits. 

Now, since Kitchen Clatter is kicking off holiday postings with the topic of the wonderfully versatile cranberry, I thought I'd add one of my favorite healthy recipes. I actually found this a few years ago on the side of a Kellogg's cereal
box and make it, not just at holiday time, but right through the winter as well. Since an egg allergy limits me to the use of egg substitutes, it's inclusion in this recipe is what attracted me at first. But it's moist texture and wonderful flavor, pushed it to the top of my "must bake" list. So take a look, and more to point, take a try. And, stay in touch with Kitchen Clatter because for the next few weeks, it's all Thanksgiving!

Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins
  • 1 1/4   cups   all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2   teaspoons   baking powder
  • 2    teaspoons   pumpkin pie spice, apple pie spice or cinnamon
  • 1/4   teaspoon   salt
  • 1    cup   Ready-To-Eat Cereal Smart Start® Antioxidants (crushed to 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2   cup   low-fat buttermilk
  • 1    cup   canned pumpkin
  • 1/2   cup   refrigerated egg substitute* or two eggs slightly beaten
  • 1/2   cup   firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2    tablespoons   vegetable oil
  • 1/3   cup   dried cranberries

In medium bowl stir together flour, baking powder, spice and salt. Set aside.
In large bowl combine Kellogg'g Smart Start Antioxidant cereal and buttermilk. Let stand about 2 minutes or until cereal softens. Add pumpkin, egg substitute, brown sugar and oil. Beat well. Add flour mixture and cranberries, stirring until just combined. Portion evenly into twelve 2-1/2-inch muffin-pan cups coated with cooking spray or lined with foil bake cups.

Bake at 375 degrees F about 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in muffin pan for 5 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool completely.