Monday, November 8, 2010

Holiday Decorating Occasional Series, part 3 of 5 -- Cranberries

This season I wanted to share a few of my favorite herbie holiday ideas, which includes food and beverage recipes as well as decorating tips and gifts that use herbs.  This is Part 3 in an occasional Series of 5, to read part 1 on Herb Scented Dough, click here or part 2 on Holiday Decorating & gift ideas click here.

This time I wanted to focus on an important seasonal plant, so you could learn its benefits and uses—Cranberries.  When my husband worked at Kline Creek Farm there were several occasions when I strung popcorn and cranberries for tree decorations.  As a result of staining my fingers with berry juice, I learned to enjoy the aroma, color and flavor of these great berries.

The health benefit of cranberries has become more widely recognized over the past two decades.  In addition to preventing urinary tract infections and kidney stones they have also been found to fight plaque build up on teeth that cause gingivitis and gum disease.  So in addition to drinking a 100% cranberry juice, here are a couple recipes to try with the berries.

Cranberry Cordial
Now is just the time to start making this for the end of December or Thanksgiving Holidays.  It is one of my favorite ways to use Scented Geranium leaves too!

1 pound fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped
3 cups sugar
3 cups light rum
2 sprig rosemary
3 rose geranium leaves

Combine cranberries, sugar, and rum.  Place in a clean jar with rosemary and rose geranium leaves.  Cover and place in a cool dark place, shaking every few days.  After 4 weeks, strain the liquid bottle and serve.  Save the strained cranberries in nut breads, cooking compotes, chicken salad or over ice cream.

Spiced Cranberry Orange sauce
You can serve this over turkey, it is zingy and special.

1 pound fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked through
¾ cup sugar
Juice and zest of 1 large orange (leave zest in large pieces)
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. nutmeg
4 cloves, stuck into a section of orange rind for easy removal
1 3-inch cinnamon stick, broken
½ cup light red wine

Combine ingredients in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until cranberries pop and sauce thickens.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Remove cinnamon, cloves and zest.  Pour sauce into a bowl and chill.  Serves 10.  Can be made a day ahead and refrigerated.

Cranberry Mint Ice Cubes
12 Individual berries
12 fresh mint leaves

Add 1 berry and 1 small mint leaf to ice cube compartments.  Add a small amount of water to each compartment.  Freeze.  When frozen add more water to encase the berry.   Add the cubes to iced water, ginger ale, tea, or even champagne!

Special EXTRA

Although you cannot eat this, it is fun to do.  And the colorful result can be added to even store bought potpourri to make it holiday festive.  Air-dry a cup of cranberries on a rack or spread them on a tray and place in a low oven (I turn the oven on to 200 degrees.  Once it is warmed I turn it off and place the tray inside with the door open.  I reheat as needed until the berries are dry.)  Once dried, you can add berries to your potpourri with some bay leaves.

Our next Blog in this series will be posted around Nov. 22, so stop back for part four.  And to view our seasonal gifts, baskets and wintertime products please stop by our website which can direct you to other information and our e-stores.

All posted recipes are the copyright 2010 of Marcy Lautanen-Raleigh and cannot be used without permission.

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