I have inherited the old-fashioned hand crank food grinder that my dad used to make Cranberry Jello Salad while we were growing up. The suction cups are wearing out so it slides across the counter occasionally and it is probably older than I am but the memories attached to that ugly old grinder are what keep it in my cupboard. Every Christmas and Thanksgiving morning, without fail, that grinder came out and was attached to the counter, a chair was placed in front of it and the arguing began….
It would have been so easy, peaceful and quick for my dad to kick all of us squawking, bickering kids out of the kitchen and make the cranberry salad on his own but he always spent the morning refereeing and shuttling us kids through our turns until we had all enjoyed our time at the crank, watching the whole food go in the top, turning the handle and seeing the mutilated results pouring out the other end. Don’t ask me why this was such a big deal, I couldn’t tell you for the life of me. Tradition maybe? A chance to argue with your siblings, something to compete over, an offered opportunity to test the patience of our father or a little bit of all of the above rolled into one. Whatever the reason, we loved “helping” dad make the salad for holiday meals as much as we loved eating it. Somehow this year, in all of the packing and confusion of re-doing our floors, I misplaced the crank handle. Thanks to my husband, we will not be cranberry-less this season, Jeff and his power tools to the rescue!
I am sad to admit I did not carry on this tradition on a yearly basis like my dad did but only made this salad a few times over the years for their arguing, cranking enjoyment but they always had Grampa’s creation at holidays. As far as redeeming myself and the tradition, there’s always grandkids…right???
Cranberry Jell-O Salad
1 one-pound raw cranberries
1 15-ounce can pineapple, drained
1 large package raspberry Jell-O
½ orange (plus a few small pieces orange rind)
1-package walnuts (5 or 6 ounces)
¾ cup white sugar or to taste
Prepare Jell-O according to package direction except use ¼ cup LESS cold water than directed, refrigerate until almost set.
Grind cranberries, apple, orange, peel, pineapple and nuts using a food mill or grinder. Add sugar, stirring well, the fruit and nut mixture will be tart but should not be too sour, use additional sugar if needed. When Jell-O is almost firm, add fruit mixture and return to refrigerator.
What's a holiday tradition that you passed down to your kids or grandkids?