Virtual Thanksgiving and Cranberry Bread (Musings on This Holiday)
Well, here we are, the beginning of Thanksgiving week or as I used to call it “Holy-crap-I-have-to-cook-HOW-much-food-for-people-that-don’t-really-like-it-and-will-spend-the-whole-meal-kvetching-about-it” time, oh goody (Ok, I only “said” it in my head, but I sure did THINK it loudly).
Apologies to all those people out there that Love this holiday, but I just never got it.
Seriously, let’s get the family to travel hundreds of miles so they can be together to eat a meal. Sounds good in theory I suppose but let’s review for a moment. First, it’s been my experience that within the first fifteen minutes of the gathering everyone remembers WHY they moved hundreds of miles away from each other. Oh, and they’re all exhausted and jet-lagged from the travel so by all means let’s sit around a table and talk politics—that sounds like fun.
Second, most people with family coming from out of town only plan for ONE meal (two if you count the late-night sandwiches) even though their houseguests will be staying the weekend. And this, by the way, is why restaurants are sooo busy over Thanksgiving Weekend. Well, that and the “get-me-out-of-this- house-and-away-from-these-people” thing. Trust me I know, I ran a restaurant for a long time. Except that THIS year most restaurants will be limited one-quarter capacity so the wait time should be “fun”—just saying.
Third, and again my apologies to those who actually like turkey, but most people don’t. They may say they do but they’re only saying that because that’s what they supposed to say. And well, how exactly do you break it to Granny that you’d rather eat dirt than her turkey (which she spent hours preparing). Or that her cherished turkey is just a mashed potato, gravy, and stuffing delivery device. I know this for a fact because the last time I made a Thanksgiving turkey (which is the last time I will EVER make a turkey) when it can time to try to give away “doggy bags”, no one wanted any because, well, they didn’t really like turkey, they were just eating it because it’s what one does on Thanksgiving. ***Note of reference–mashed potatoes, gravy, and stuffing work very well with pork roast—just a thought.
I know, I know, some people LOVE Thanksgiving, my Dad was one of them. He used to say it was his very favorite holiday. He always spoke glowingly about the gatherings at my Grandparents’ house and I always wondered what party HE had gone to because that certainly wasn’t the party I remembered. What I remembered was getting up at the crack of dawn to drive the approximately one hundred and fifty miles (one way) to my Grandparents’ house so we could spend the day watching the adults arguing with each other about the same thing they argued about EVERY year. And then getting back in the car for the long drive home on the same day. Ah, good time.
Anyway, I’d like to make a suggestion, stay home this year. There’s a monster plague raging that will only get worse the more people travel. Maybe, just maybe, if more of us make the commitment to putting our health and the health of our communities first this season we can help slow the spread. And be honest, do you really want to share a meal with your family and talk politics THIS year?
So here’s my contribution to your alternative Thanksgiving dinner this year. I’ve been working on developing the perfect Cranberry Bread recipe and this year I think I’ve finally nailed it. It’s not too dense and soggy, it’s not too dry and crumbly but it’s flavorful and it’s stable enough that the leftovers hold together in a toaster. I hope you will enjoy it.
So here’s to Thanksgiving 2020—-and remember on Zoom when your crazy uncle or aunt (we all at least one) starts spouting whatever conspiracy theory they’re into this year, you can just hit Mute!
Love to all and stay safe
by Tracy Shapiro. Nov 2020
2 C All-purpose flour 1 lg Egg (at room temp)
1 C White Sugar ½ C Orange Juice
1 ½ tsp Baking Powder 2 TABL (1 oz) Salted Butter (melted)
1 tsp Baking Soda 2 TABL Boiling Water
½ tsp salt Zest of 1 Orange (finely chopped)
1 C Frozen Cranberries (don’t defrost)
1 C Pecans (coarsely chopped)
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees (300 degrees if using a glass pan)
Grease an 8.5”x4.5”x2.5” Loaf pan
Zest a “softball” sized orange then juice the orange and add enough water to the juice to equal ½ C, set aside.
In a large bowl combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl lightly beat the egg then beat in juice, zest, butter, and water, in that order.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just moistened.
Gently fold in the cranberries and pecans and spoon into the pan, smooth the top.
Bake for 60 – 75 min. or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool in the pan for 10 min then finish cooling on a wire rack.
If you like a soft crust, wrap the loaf in a clean towel after you remove it from the pan to cool.
*Note for this recipe use an orange with the best smelling rind you can find, the quality of the zest will determine the richness of the flavor.