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Cranberry Orange Relish-A Persnickety Family Tradition

Cranberry Orange Relish | Naturally Persnickety MomWhen I was growing up every Christmas my dad and I made Cranberry Orange Relish. It became our ritual and our tradition. It was the only thing we ever used our meat grinder for and it gave it the best texture. I wish I still had that meat grinder. While it works fine in other kitchen essentials such as this one or this , that old meat grinder was the best!A funny story about this dish- I took it to the first holiday gathering when Mr. Persnickety and I were newly married.  Like I said this is my favorite holiday dish and such a family tradition that I wanted to share it with my new family. They took one look at it and asked me -what is it-and what do we do with it?! I didn’t realize that not everyone ate it! It is a family joke now, and honestly they don’t love it as much as I do, but that’s okay. I think it is the memories of making cranberry orange relish with my dad more than the dish itself that makes me love it so. Cranberry orange relish is actually a pretty good alternative to the canned stuff .Cranberry Orange Relish Prep | Naturally Persnickety Mom

There are a couple of  tricks to this dish:

1)Slightly freeze the cranberries so they don’t turn to mush in the food processor.

2)Use thin skinned oranges, not Navel variety.

3)It really needs to sit overnight in the fridge to let flavors mellow and to gauge how much sugar is needed.

I hope your family enjoys this recipe as much as mine has. It is a great recipe to make with kids too. They love to help!

Cranberry Orange Relish-A Persnickety Family Tradition

Ingredients

  • 1 bag fresh cranberries
  • 1 orange, washed and sliced
  • 1 apple, washed, cored, and sliced
  • organic sugar to taste, I start with 1/2 cup

Instructions

  1. Place fruits in food processor or food grinder and process. Relish should be a little chunky. Stir in sugar and refrigerate overnight. Test for sweetness the next morning. Add sugar if needed and let sit until ready to serve. It is okay to even make this dish 2-3 days ahead of time to get the perfect blend of sweet/tart flavor. I have read where some people like to add pecans to this dish, but I like it just plain.
https://naturallypersnickety.com/cranberry-orange-relish-persnickety-family-tradition/

Do you have a favorite holiday traditional dish that you make whether it is a favorite or not? Please share and tell me about it in the comments below 🙂

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Cranberry Orange Relish Title | Naturally Persnickety Mom

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Homemade Bread-Why It Should Be the Only Kind You Eat

homemadewholewheatbreadBy now ya’ll know that I love to bake bread. For me it is therapeutic. The act of kneading dough is a great stress reliever and the smell of it baking in the oven is the best aromatherapy ever! It’s relaxing to me, that when I am busy running around and chasing kids that I can go into the kitchen and create something that has been made for thousands of years. In this day of gluten free and paleo diets and the whole low carb craze, bread often gets a bum wrap. However, many people in the past survived on bread. Yes, I believe it was very different from what we have now in many cases, but it was a household staple.

During the 1900s our country commercialized bread. We started ingesting bread that was made by machines and with GMO grains that were chemically bleached and enriched. The bread that was once a healthy staple in our homes quickly became a very unhealthy one. As the obesity epidemic continues in our country I sometimes wonder how.  Most people I know eat whole grain breads that they buy from the grocery store. Some restaurants offer whole grain buns and breads instead of white flour. Several people I know eat the low calorie, low carb,  whole grain breads on the grocery store shelves. What gives? They still battle their weight and they aren’t all that healthy. My theory- it’s the commercial process of baking bread. Even the “good” breads last way too long on the shelf. I don’t see that as a good sign.  When I bake homemade bread I am lucky if it lasts 1 week without spoiling.  I have had commercial bread (whole grain, reputable brands) last weeks in the pantry!

When I make sourdough bread at home there are 4 ingredients I starter, Flour, water, and salt. The ingredients in commercial sourdough breads is usually many more. For example here is the ingredient list for a popular brand of sourdough bread taken from that brand’s website :

Ingredients

ENRICHED WHEAT FLOUR (FLOUR, MALTED BARLEY FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMIN MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID), WATER, YEAST, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF EACH OF THE FOLLOWING: SALT, SOYBEAN OIL, ACETIC ACID, VINEGAR, SODIUM STEAROYL LACTYLATE, MONOGLYCERIDES, XANTHAN GUM, CELLULOSE, TAPIOCA STARCH, WHEAT STARCH, ENZYME, CALCIUM PROPIONATE AND CITRIC ACID (TO PRESERVE FRESHNESS)

High Fructose Corn Syrup? Tapioca starch? soybean oil? Why? Because how else would it last through cross country transportation? Gone are the times where there is a neighborhood bakery. Most bakeries in my area specialize in cakes and cupcakes. Beautiful and yummy, but not for everyday consumption.

I have to say that since I have been making my own breads, I have less digestive issues than with commercial breads. Personally I feel it’s because I focus on buying organic flours from reputable companies that don’t contain GMO grains. I don’t have any scientific proof, but believe it is because my body isn’t stressed by processing unnecessary chemicals and toxins on top of the bread. My husband says there is nothing quite like coming home to the smell of fresh baked bread. He says if I could bake bread around the clock for the aroma he would probably never want to leave. I take it as a compliment. Of course he doesn’t mind eating the bread either 🙂 Bread is a labor of love. There is the mixing and the kneading and the waiting for it to rise, but the reward is great. Nice beautiful wholesome bread for a fraction of the cost of store bought.

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Homemade “Pickled” Cucumbers

HomemadePickledCucumbersI love traditional foods from other countries.  There is something about trying a dish from another country that just makes me feel good inside.  This fabulous “pickle” recipe is no exception.  I have a lovely friend that is from Russia.  I find it fascinating to talk to her and listen to her experiences because they are at times very different from mine.  She has been so kind as to tell me about some of her favorite dishes from Russia.  If she doesn’t give me the recipe, I usually search it out.  One thing I really enjoy about the recipes she has shared with me so far is how nutritious and economical they are.  For instance this recipe only has a few ingredients-cucumbers, fresh dill, and fresh garlic.  Those are pretty inexpensive this time of year.  You may even have them growing in your garden.  My friend calls them pickles, but they aren’t prepared like we are accustomed to with vinegar, but with salt water.  Anyway here is this simple recipe.

Recipe for Homemade “Pickled” Cucumbers:

2 lbs pickling cucumbers. Use the Persian variety that are more like the European ones or slice a European one.  I sliced my cucumbers and cut them into spears because they were too long to fit into the jars.

1 good handful of fresh dill

6 garlic cloves sliced or more to taste

4 cups of water

3 Tablespoons of salt

Cut the cucumbers as you would like. Layer cucumbers, dill, and garlic in jars.  Dissolve salt in the water and pour over cucumbers.  Seal and store in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.  These “pickles” are crisp and tender and the perfect accompaniment to a main dish  They have a wonderful flavor, but are not what we Americans generally think of when we hear dill pickles.  These are completely different! I truly hope you try this fabulous recipe and let me know how you like it!  Also please share any traditional recipes from your family.  I would love to try them 🙂

GoodTastesTuesdayFeaturedButtonBarn-HopThis recipe also seen in Kelly the Kitchen Kops’ Real Food Wednesday Blog Carnival

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The Best Whole Wheat Bread Ever!

IMG_0530I love baking my own bread.  I started probably about 5 years ago out of sheer desperation to lower my grocery bill.  I believe in eating good bread and it can be very expensive at the store. After reading the ingredients on the budget-friendly stuff, I decided there must be a better way so I got out an old cookbook and gave it “the old college try”. Below is the best recipe for 100% whole wheat bread that I have ever tried. There is no extra gluten or white flour.  It was very successful and the family loved it!  So I obsessively continued.  Then I got lazy when we moved to our current home where decent bread is affordable so I quit. IMG_0523 The other day while I was decluttering my cookbook shelf I found my favorite bread cookbook, Beautiful Breads by Margeaux Sky, and got inspired.  I didn’t realize how much I missed it! IMG_0507 I even made it a family affair this time and got the kids to help out.  The whole wheat bread (which if any of you have ever baked it know it is quite tricky) recipe is the very best.  No extra gluten to buy, it rises, and it tastes good.  The kids and husband loved it.  As a matter of fact as I write this I am baking 2 more loaves.  For those of you that don’t own the book, but would love a great whole wheat recipe here it is.

Best Whole Wheat Bread Ever Recipe:

  • 2T yeast (or 2packets)
  • 5c. warm water
  • 2c. warm milk
  • 2c warm half and half
  • 3/4c packed brown sugar
  • 2 sticks butter, melted
  • 3/4c honey
  • 1 1/2tsp vanilla extract
  • 18c whole wheat flour (approximately)
  • 3 1/2T salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2T water

Directions:

  1. Generously grease a large bowl and set aside.
  2. In a VERY large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water, milk, and half and half.   Let stand for 5 minutes, or until the yeast is foamy.  Add the brown sugar, butter, honey, and vanilla to the yeast mixture and mix well.
  3. Slowly add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and mix well.  If you’re using a stand mixer, knead for 3 to 4 minutes.  If you’re kneading by hand, turn the dough onto a floured countertop or board, and knead for 4 to 7 minutes.  Keep the dough moist for a soft, tender bread.
  4. Place the kneaded dough in the prepared bowl.  Place the bowl in a warm, dry place and let the dough rise for 60 minutes.
  5. Punch down the dough with your fist and divide it into 4 portions.
  6. Generously butter four 9-inch loaf pans, form the dough into loaves and place them in the pans.  Let them rise another 60 minutes.
  7. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  8. Beat together the egg and water to make an egg wash.  Brush the egg wash over the dough and bake the loaves for approximately 1 hour.
  9. Carefully remove a loaf from the pan and tap the bottom.  If it sounds hollow, it’s done.  If not, continue to bake, checking the loaves every few minutes.  When a loaf is done, return it to the pan, remove all pans from the oven, and let them cool for 30 minutes.  Remove the loaves from the pans and transfer them to a wire rack.  Cool for another 30 minutes before slicing.

Please note: This recipe makes 4 loaves and requires a VERY large bowl.  I usually underestimate the size of bowl needed for this recipe.  My largest bowl, which I thought was VERY large, isn’t big enough. I actually get 6 nice sized loaves out of it to help stretch your pennies a little further!

IMG_0514IMG_0520

Now I know that eating carbs is no longer trendy, but I believe there is a reason people have been eating whole grain bread for so long-it really is good for you!  But I also believe all things in moderation. I have used a bread machine, but very much prefer to do it the old-fashioned way so I can better stock the pantry for the week.  I use good ingredients, but not the most expensive and it really is less expensive than the bread I was buying. I estimated that this recipe costs $3 to make.  That is  the price of one loaf of  “quality” commercial whole grain bread. I highly encourage anyone trying to be self-sustaining or attempting to eat cleaner to bake their own bread.  It may seem like a daunting and laborious task at first, but just go ahead and do it once. I don’t think you will be disappointed!  What is your favorite type of bread to make or eat?

frugaldaysad1

 

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Potato Soup-My Favorite Comfort Food

My absolute favorite comfort food is what I call Loaded Baked Potato Soup. It’s warm , starchy, and creamy. What more could you want? Potatoes get a bad rap these days, but I consider them a nutritious comfort food myself.  This potato soup is made with good quality ingredients and is very filling and satisfying. I hope you enjoy it!

Recipe for Loaded Baked Potato Soup:

3lbs russet potatoes, washed and peeled, and diced

1/2 onion or white part of a leek, chopped

3-5 cloves of garlic, minced

3-4c chicken stock or water

1-2 c half and half, cream, or whole milk I personally prefer the half and half

Grated cheese, green onion

A few strips of bacon

1. In a Dutch oven cook bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels and crumble into bacon bits.

2. Cook onions and garlic in bacon grease or good quality butter or coconut oil

3. Add potatoes and stock. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium and cook potatoes. They should fall apart. This usually takes 20-30 minutes.

4. Do not drain potatoes. Remove pot from heat. Add half and half, salt, and pepper.

5. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with cheese, green onions, and bacon bits. Serve with good crusty bread for extra comfort and carbs and enjoy the yumminess!

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The Best Whole Wheat Bread Ever!

IMG_0530I love baking my own bread.  I started probably about 5 years ago out of sheer desperation to lower my grocery bill.  I believe in eating good bread and it can be very expensive at the store. After reading the ingredients on the budget-friendly stuff, I decided there must be a better way so I got out an old cookbook and gave it “the old college try”. It was very successful and the family loved it!  So I obsessively continued.  Then I got lazy when we moved to our current home where decent bread is affordable so I quit. IMG_0523 The other day while I was decluttering my cookbook shelf I found my favorite bread cookbook, Beautiful Breads by Margeaux Sky, and got inspired.  I didn’t realize how much I missed it! IMG_0507 I even made it a family affair this time and got the kids to help out.  The whole wheat bread (which if any of you have ever baked it know it is quite tricky) recipe is the very best.  No extra gluten to buy, it rises, and it tastes good.  The kids and husband loved it.  As a matter of fact as I write this I am baking 2 more loaves.  For those of you that don’t own the book, but would love a great whole wheat recipe here it is.

Best Whole Wheat Bread Ever Recipe:

  • 2T yeast (or 2packets)
  • 5c. warm water
  • 2c. warm milk
  • 2c warm half and half 
  • 3/4c packed brown sugar
  • 2 sticks butter, melted
  • 3/4c honey
  • 1 1/2tsp vanilla extract
  • 18c whole wheat flour (approximately)
  • 3 1/2T salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2T water

Directions:

  1. Generously grease a large bowl and set aside.
  2. In a VERY large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water, milk, and half and half.   Let stand for 5 minutes, or until the yeast is foamy.  Add the brown sugar, butter, honey, and vanilla to the yeast mixture and mix well.
  3. Slowly add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and mix well.  If you’re using a stand mixer, knead for 3 to 4 minutes.  If you’re kneading by hand, turn the dough onto a floured countertop or board, and knead for 4 to 7 minutes.  Keep the dough moist for a soft, tender bread.
  4. Place the kneaded dough in the prepared bowl.  Place the bowl in a warm, dry place and let the dough rise for 60 minutes.
  5. Punch down the dough with your fist and divide it into 4 portions.
  6. Generously butter four 9-inch loaf pans, form the dough into loaves and place them in the pans.  Let them rise another 60 minutes.
  7. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  8. Beat together the egg and water to make an egg wash.  Brush the egg wash over the dough and bake the loaves for approximately 1 hour.
  9. Carefully remove a loaf from the pan and tap the bottom.  If it sounds hollow, it’s done.  If not, continue to bake, checking the loaves every few minutes.  When a loaf is done, return it to the pan, remove all pans from the oven, and let them cool for 30 minutes.  Remove the loaves from the pans and transfer them to a wire rack.  Cool for another 30 minutes before slicing.

Please note: This recipe makes 4 loaves and requires a VERY large bowl.  I usually underestimate the size of bowl needed for this recipe.  My largest bowl, which I thought was VERY large, isn’t big enough. I actually get 6 nice sized loaves out of it to help stretch your pennies a little further!

IMG_0514

IMG_0520Now I know that eating carbs is no longer trendy, but I believe there is a reason people have been eating whole grain bread for so long-it really is good for you!  But I also believe all things in moderation. I have used a bread machine, but very much prefer to do it the old-fashioned way so I can better stock the pantry for the week.  I use good ingredients, but not the most expensive and it really is less expensive than the bread I was buying. I estimated that this recipe costs $3 to make.  That is  the price of one loaf of  “quality” commercial whole grain bread. I highly encourage anyone trying to be self-sustaining or attempting to eat cleaner to bake their own bread.  It may seem like a daunting and laborious task at first, but just go ahead and do it once. I don’t think you will be disappointed!  What is your favorite type of bread to make or eat?