Very (Cran)berry Goodness!

With Thanksgiving around the corner, it’s a good time to talk about a favorite seasonal berry: The Cranberry! Underrated and sometimes forgotten, it’s more versatile than it’s typical jellied or un-jellied sauce or relish. And we have the pamphlets to prove it! Two different folders in the Culinary Pamphlet Collection (Ms2011-002) have booklets from cranberry-centric companies. First, there’s “Cranberries and How to Cook Them” (1938) from the American Cranberry Exchange:

This pamphlet for “Eatmor Cranberries” (seriously!) puts cranberries in baked goods, sauces, salads, relishes and even–yup, you guess it–gelatin! It has tips for using cranberries as a meat tenderizer and a recipe for cranberries as an omelet filling. It also includes a little bit of detail about where the berries come from and how they are harvested. Although our last example (below) contains a lot more detail on the history of cranberries. But first, “Cape Cod’s Famous Cranberry Recipes” (1941) from the National Cranberry Association. This organization was also known early on as the Cranberry Canners, Inc., but most of you will probably recognize it by the company’s current name:  Ocean Spray Cranberry, Inc.

This pamphlet presents the clever idea of using cookie cutters to produce shaped decorations for a surprising number of holiday meals–not just Thanksgiving, but also Valentine’s Day, Easter, and even Halloween (cranberry-sauce shaped turkeys, hearts, bunnies, and pumpkins respectively). In addition, of course, it’s full of recipes…including some meat dishes with cranberry accompaniments and a few interesting desserts (Cranberry Nogg?). Lastly, also from the National Cranberry Association, there’s “101 All-Time Favorite Cranberry Recipes.” (That’s a lot of cranberries!)
 This pamphlet includes many of the expected items, but it also has “Cranburgers” (hamburgers with a cranberry sauce), a range of desserts, and some punches and cocktails. At this rate, you could work cranberries into every course of your Thanksgiving meal. Or your everyday meals, really. So, however you enjoy them, sneak some cranberries into your holiday. You won’t regret it!

Thanksgiving is here!

Although this week’s highlight is a little more modern in terms of its publication date, it is certainly historic in content. While digging around for something Thanksgiving-oriented, I was pleased to find this little gem. And of course, since two of the things I LOVE about working with the culinary history collection are old advertisements/ pamphlets and recipes—voilà! Enter Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving Recipes and History, from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie (2005). The first third of this book is all about the history of the holiday, including regional favorites, modern additions (can I interest you in turducken or tofurkey?), turkeys and presidental pardons, war-time changes, and everything in between.

The rest of the book, not surprising, is devoted to recipes: appetizers and salads (gelatin, of course!), turkeys (including alternatives like brining, marinading, stewing, and stuffing with rice & beans), sides, and desserts. There are a lot of great recipes and images in this book, but I stuck with a few standards: stuffing, cranberry sauce/relish, and perhaps only slightly-less-common, pecan pie. (Sorry, the pumpkin pie recipe didn’t have a picture!)

Whatever you’re eating this holiday, whether it’s turkey or tofu, stuffing or dressing, sweet potatoes or mashed, and pumpkin or pecan, have a little extra. It all tastes so good it’s hard to resist. C’mon, we won’t tell. Enjoy your food and company. And have a Happy Thanksgiving!