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Tradition – what a beautiful thing

Thanksgiving 2012 is over.  I hope that you carried on the traditions of Thanksgiving past with some of your favorite things to eat and do during this year’s holiday.  In our fast-paced world, I always feel like the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays bring us back to times past.  It’s a perfect opportunity to renew old  traditions and to add some new ones.  And since food is such a big part of these holidays, it should definitely be part of those traditions.

One of my favorite Thanksgiving foods that puts me in touch with the past is Cranberry-Orange Relish.  I remember my Aunt Anne preparing this when I was a young girl for our family gatherings in Chicago.  Another dish that became a favorite of my children when they were growing up is what the Schultz girls (my daughters) call “our famous Orange Jello Salad.”   I remember one year that my husband and I spent Thanksgiving with my father-in-law in Missouri.  Two of my children and their families lived near there at the time.  During the day-before prep, we realized, “oh no, we forgot about the Orange Jello Salad!” Well, the girls and I tried to recall it from memory.  We kind of messed up that year because the topping just wasn’t quite right – our memories weren’t as good as we thought.  Instead of a nice firm topping with cream cheese, butter, egg and Dream Whip, we somehow left something out and ended up with a sloppy mess. But it was a memory few of us will forget.  This experience prompted me to make sure each of the girls had the recipe so that we never ran into this problem again, no matter where we celebrated the holiday.

Moral of the story:  If you have special family recipes, make sure you pass them along to members of your family — especially the ones that cook!  I’m still in the midst of an unfinished family cookbook project, and just writing this post reminds me that I MUST finish and publish that project so that all of the special memories and recipes will be preserved for children, grandchildren and future generations that I will never know.

Tradition is important.  Keep it going.

I’d love to hear about your food traditions during the holidays, so please share!

Here is my Cranberry Orange Relish – couldn’t be simpler.  And since I know you’ll ask, the “Famous Orange Jello Salad” follows too.

Enjoy!!

Aunt Anne’s Cranberry-Orange Relish

This relish will keep for about a month in the refrigerator so if you prepare it for Thanksgiving and don’t eat it all, you’ll have some to put on your Christmas dinner table too.  You can also freeze it. It makes a great addition to quick bread, muffins and……well, use your imagination!!  Even if you don’t like cranberry relish, you have to admit, it makes a beautiful addition to your table with its sparkling burgundy color…

1 pkg.  fresh cranberries (12 oz in 2012 – used to be a 1 lb package so I have adjusted the sugar down to 1 1/2 cups)

2 oranges, quartered, peeled and seeded

1 lemon, quartered, peeled and seeded

1 1/2 – 2 cups sugar

optional – one small can of crushed pineapple, chopped pecans

Put cranberries, oranges and lemons through food grinder or food processor using a coarse blade. Placed in bowl and add sugar to your taste.  Stir well and let refrigerate for several hours.  You may also add crushed pineapple and pecans if you like.

Schultz Girls’ Orange Jello Salad

2 small packages orange Jello
4 cups water (2 hot, 2 cold)
1 lb can crushed pineapple, drained
3 bananas, sliced
1 ½   cups mini marshmallows

Dissolve jello in hot water.  Add 2 cups cold water.  (You may use pineapple as part of cold water).  Add drained pineapple, sliced bananas and marshmallows.  Stir gently and pour into 9 x 13 pan. Put in refrigerator until set.

To prepare topping:

Blend together:
¾ cup sugar,    1 tbsp flour, 1 egg,, and 2 Tbsp butter.  Cook over medium heat until thick, stirring at all times.  Cool for 10-15 minutes on counter top.

Prepare 1 envelope Dream Whip topping mix according to package directions.  Add to 8 oz softened cream cheese, fold together with a rubber spatula or spoon.. Add the cooled topping mixture into cream cheese/dream whip mixture, blending gently.  Spread on top of set jello.  Chill at least 2 hours before serving.

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