If Christmas has an official fruit, to my mind it would have to be the cranberry. We smother our turkey in it, serve it up with some brie for an oh so yummy canapé and knock it back by the bucketful in Christmas inspired cocktails.
If retro cooking had an official dish, it would have to be the jellied salad.
And if these two met at a party and got a little tipsy on a few too many festive sherries and had their very own love child? It would look a little like this:
And you know what? If there’s any rationale for hiding your love children in the attic? The Cranberry Party Salad from Salads For All Seasons could well be it.
I wasn’t the worst thing I made this year. Oh, no, that is a dead heat tie between the Paleo Muesli and the Paleo bread…
It wasn’t awful like these, it was just way too sweet for my taste to have as a savoury dish. It’s a problem I have in general with Cranberry sauce. Sometimes it feels as if someone snuck up whilst I wasn’t looking and smeared my turkey with jam. To me, the thing, the whole raison d’etre of the cran is the tang.
I was also a little disappointed that the fruit and nuts and…yep ok…spoilers ahead…celery…floated to the top which became the bottom once I turned it out. Then I looked at the picture in the book and it looks like her fruit is all chunked at the bottom too.
Also, look at her terracotta water cooler in the background. And look at my Kris Kringle present this year…we do the one where you can steal gifts and believe me, there was nothing coming between me and this baby. Sadly, I stole it off one of the nicest people in the world. And she really wanted it because she had stolen it from one of the boys. Caitlin, if you read this, I’m sorrynotsorry.
I am seriously a couple of oddly placed copper moulds away from having that retro kitchen!!! That woman also has weirdly large man hands like me too. And that blue salad? Will be made. I promise. I have to see how that particular combination of ingredients becomes blue…we will find out together in 2015. I may even wear a badly fitting blue dress and have my water cooler in the background for some happysnaps.
Rosemary says this is to be served with light meats and poultry. But how? You have to remember that this type of dish is most definitely not in any kind of ancestral memory I have. Well, having said that, I did ask my mother WEEKS ago to give me the recipe for a salmon and jello type thing she used to make. Which, I have STILL not got. Someone’s game needs to be lifted….
Given the spread between chunky at the bottom and clear at the top, it seemed sensible to slice it. To my mind that just looked way too weird on the plate. In the end, I treated it like a cranberry sauce and ate it on crackers with ham and cheese.
Huh…it doesn’t look too bad in the photos and, in all honesty, this wasn’t awful….just waaaaaayyyy to sweet for my taste. And I tarted it up by adding fresh cranberries into the mix….
Leave this one with me. I’m going to ponder it over the next 12 months and next year, I’m going to bring you the best cranberry party salad ever!!!
A few of the recipes in Salads For All Seasons have odd names that have little bearing on the contents. Take the Sportsman’s Saturday Salad I made a few weeks ago. This one however is exactly what it says on the box. With it’s gorgeous shades of green and red, it’s very festive. It’s duck. And it’s salad.
And it’s deeeelicious!!!
I have a weird issue with duck. I love to eat it. Really love to eat it. But I find it very hard to cook correctly. I also have an issue in that we live very close to a lake. The ducks there are so tame; when they see you coming they come racing all the way across the lake because you might have food for them. Which we never do. Because we already have two walking, barking dustbins that are more than ready to consume any scraps. But seeing them and particularly the ever so cute ducklings in Spring does make me feel a bit guilty about eating them. Also I’m sure I heard somewhere that ducks mate for life and it always makes me sad that somewhere out there is a lonely duck who has lost the love of it’s life and will spend the rest of his or her life alone.
Ok, so now that I’ve put you off eating my yummy salad, let’s talk about something else for a while so we forget the lonely ducks.
Oscar also has a complicated relationship with the birds on the lake. The swans more than the ducks though. A swan at Williamstown beach had a go at Lulu when she was younger. She keeps her distance. He is just fascinated…. And now feels like a good time to tell you the Oscar story because it is our personal Christmas miracle.
December 2012, I was working at a place that I hated and was day by day destroying my will to live. Seriously. One of the few days of joy in those last 6 months was that, as a team, we worked with the RSPCA on Santa Paws. Santa Paws is a fabulous initiative where people bring in their pets for a photo with Santa that then gets printed onto Christmas cards, keyrings etc. It’s pretty cool. And not just dogs, people were bringing in goats and kittens and goldfish. It was awesome.
After our shift finished I asked if I could go have a look in the kennels. There was a very cute beagle but it was going to Beagle rescue the next day. In the next cage was a big lolloping gangly boy who came running over and as soon as I patted him fell over for a belly rub. And he was lovely and an incredibly weird combination of a Greyhound and a Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Which seems like a combination that doesn’t work however you play it.
But there he was.
And then I read the sign on his cage. It said something like “I have been here for nearly 100 days and lots of people have looked at me; then they leave with their new puppy. I just want a home with a family who loves me as much as I will love them.”
OMG, it makes me cry even now.
The poor little fucker was two years old and it was his third time at the RSPCA. He had been born there; the last owners had brought him back because they could no longer afford to feed him. We also strongly suspect he has been massively ill-treated because even now, he will cringe at any loud noise, like a door slamming for the wind, he is pretty much scared of his own shadow.
So I went home and Mark was “So how was it, did you have a great time?”
And I started to tell him. And I got as far as “There was a dog and he had a sign…” and then I cried. For hours. And when he could finally get the story out of me, he cried. And then he sighed and said “So, when do we go get him?” Bear in mind at this time, we were living in a one bedroom apartment, and we already had one dog. A second dog was also going to be a stretch and a real life changer, and not in a good way, for us. But we reasoned, it would only be a couple of months until we moved into the house we were building so we all had a bit more room to breathe. That couple of months turned out to be nearly a year….
But who could resist that face?
The next morning we took Lulu and we went to get him. Our get-out card was that if Lulu hated him he couldn’t come. She is so bossy that we couldn’t have another dog that challenged her authority and fought with her all the time.
So we drove for an hour in a huge rainstorm where you couldn’t even see ten metres in front of the car and I was really scared driving in such bad weather but I did it because I was so happy that we could take him home. When we got there he came running up but then he turned away. He was really disinterested in us – as if he was sick of investing in people who weren’t going to take him.
Mark liked him and Lulu didn’t kill him. So it was pretty much a done deal that we were taking him.
Until they told us that we couldn’t.
Their dog psychologist had deemed he was food possessive and could not be in a house with another dog.
We argued and argued the point. We said Lulu is such a dominant dog she would NEVER let anyone come between her and her food but they stood firm. We could not take him.
I cried all the way home.
About four days later, I got a call from the RSPCA. “Are you the girl who wanted to buy Thor?” Oh, yeh, his former name was Thor….we didn’t want a dog called Thor so we renamed him. Anyway, yes that was me. “Well the psychologist has reevaluated him. He’s all yours.”
Two years on, I can’t imagine life without him. He is the sweetest, most gentle, most affectionate boy in the world. With an increasing cheekiness as his confidence grows. He knows this is his home and I hope he knows we will never abandon him. I am confident we have given him the best life he has ever had. We love him to death and, yes, the sign was true, he absolutely loves us in return.
If you’re wondering why so many of the photos show Osky sleeping or in some type of bed, it’s because greyhounds are surprisingly, incredibly lazy. He and Lulu get walked for about an hour every day and we are lucky enough to have an off leash park close by where, ideally, he can run with another dog. Ten minutes of flat out running during the walk and that’s him done for the day. He’ll snooze for most of the rest of the day, waking up only to eat. And there’s always time for a cuddle…
And then, it’s time for a bit more snoozing….
We might be good to get back to the salad now. The original recipe is here if you want it. I wasn’t taken by the idea of orange and egg so I omitted the egg and added some cranberries to my version. Also, I used homemade mayo, also from Salads from All Seasons but you can use store bought if you wish. Having said that, this one is super easy and tasty!
I cooked my duck according to the Gordon Ramsay recipe here and it worked pretty well. It was certainly the most successful I have been with duck.
You could also make this with some leftover turkey post-Christmas. It will lack some of the richness of the duck but will still be pretty good!
I”m going to try to get one more post in before the big day but just in case life gets in the way, Merry Christmas to you all from me and a special Christmas Angel.