Reader, I grew up eating mostly real food with a smattering of things like Hamburger Helper and a few Pampered Chef recipes that look an awful lot like something Sandra Lee would make (except not even Pampered Chef would do something as painfully unaware as her Kwanzaa cake). My relatives, on the other hand, tended towards the jello with miscellaneous bits served as a “salad” at dinner and other packaged, processed, and reassembled dishes. Up until recently I never knew there was a name for this sort of thing. That is, until I stumbled across the Canadian blogger, Brian Francis, who writes at Caker Cooking.
Let me tell you, the first time I read every single post and laughed until I cried. His Bazaar-o-Rama post complete with picture of knitted slippers meant for a satyr or other cloven hoofed individual brought back many a fond memory of the church bazaars of my youth. Between Mr. Caker and The Mid-Century Menu, I have discovered an entire alternate universe of church cookbooks that both enlightened and frightened me.
Dearest reader, the other thing I discovered is that nothing says holiday like caker cooking. Imagine my surprise, when considering the upcoming holiday feasts, at the discovery that all of my cherished holiday dishes easily qualify as caker.
Which brings me to today’s post.
Behold! Cranberry Salad. A classic sort of caker dish where salad leaves the realm of vegetables and health and veers into dessert territory with it’s whipped cream coated mini marshmallows, sugar, and cranberries. I was responsible for making this for today’s Thanksgiving celebration (no, we don’t all get Thanksgiving off of work). When my husband announced that they were having a Thanksgiving potluck at work, I knew my decision to make this dish for the family holiday was inspired. Two birds. One stone…uh, cranberry.
Cue felt church mice in red robes singing here as we introduce the cranberry. Lovely red, Wisconsin cranberries looking all healthy and stuff. Poor little fruits, the things people do to you. I should get extra caker points for these because I bought them at Aldi, the mecca of American cakers. This is enough for a quadruple recipe.
See here? Still healthy, just in tiny pieces. The recipe says to grind them up, but when was the last time any of you had a grinder in your kitchen? Nah, me neither. My mom would remind you to be mindful so that you don’t turn them into cranberry soup which would still be pretty, but so not Cranberry Salad material.
There we go. Two pounds of cranberries and four cups of sugar. I would suggest, though, that you not talk on the phone while making this dish. Yes, it’s incredibly simple to make, but trust me, when making it in the large quantities that holiday dinners require, it can be easy to lose count. Was that the third cup of sugar or the fourth? Fifth?
Oh shit. If I mess this up, will they forgive me?
Aaaaannnd, we’ve arrived. It’s pink and you could probably stop here if you were dairy sensitive. I still think it would taste lovely. Whatever you do, though, let this sit in the refrigerator overnight so that the marshmallows can soak things up.
On the day of, it’s time to break out your hand mixer. I’ve always wanted one of these, but never had one until very recently. This one was my grandmother’s. Who knew whipping cream could be so much fun? Two whole cups of whipping cream for a double batch.
This was the work version in a plain plastic bowl because I don’t trust the husband or his work with my pressed glass bowl, but promise me if you make this, that you’ll do it right. Believe me, the fancy bowl is key.
Just a bit of a disclaimer, the recipe calls for things like apples and nuts. I have no idea what that’s about because I’ve only ever had it with cranberries, marshmallows, sugar, and whipped cream. If you’re feeling adventurous, I suppose you could give it a try, but regardless of the way the recipe card is written out, I don’t consider apples and nuts to be canonical.
2 cups cranberries (1/2 pound, raw)
4 cups mini marshmallows (1/2 pound)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup unpared apples (unpared, meaning not peeled in case you’re as confused as I was)
1/2 cup nuts, chopped
1 cup whipped cream
Chop/grind cranberries. Stir in marshmallows and sugar. Chill overnight, so marshmallows absorb juice. Next day add apples and nuts. Fold in cream. Chill thoroughly.