Crazy for Cranberries
I may have mentioned that I enjoy food festivals. Now if you’re of the urban persuasion, you may be thinking I’m talking about a Food & Wine Expo. Or maybe the upcoming Yum Cha Dim Sum festival which I totally already have tickets for (and it’s NO KIDS, too. Don’t be jealous).
Obviously, I do love those metro foodie events. But I’m not talking about those things this time.
I’m actually talking about farming celebrations in honour of a small town crop specialty. You may remember when I wrote about green tomatoes that I have visited the Leamington tomato festival. I also used to go to the Winona Peach Festival. I don’t like to brag, but my cousin was a peach princess there. That makes me a peach cousin, I guess. Peach Duchess? You may now call me The Right Honourable Duchess of Peaches. Let them eat cobbler!
Anyway. My husband’s family cottage is near a town called Bala, which, by coincidence, is also where my Dad’s great-grandparents settled when they came to Canada. Bala is known for exactly three things:
1. A water ski show that happens every Monday all summer long.
2. The Kee To Bala – an old dance hall from 1930 that now attracts big bands. And not “big bands,” like it used to, but big names. Like Snoop Dog. Not sure what brought Snoop Lion to a town of a few hundred permanent residents, but I drank gin & juice with the best of them.
And 3., The Bala Cranberry Festival
It’s actually in October, so I’m either a little behind, or a little ahead with this post. Six months. Equidistant. So let’s go with ahead. But I saw fresh cranberries in the store the other day, and thought, “What exactly do people do with fresh cranberries?” And we all know that when I see a food and wonder “What the??? ” I have officially met my blog theme criteria.
They used to be harvested by hand, but that was labour intensive. Eventually, a lazy farmer got the bright idea to flood the fields because cranberries have a little pocket of air inside, so they float when they swim. Then the farmers use giant egg beaters to dislodge the berries, and they rock their hipwaiters to “corral,” them. You never knew such effort went into fighting your bladder infections, right?
I found this post about what to do with them, and chose the very first suggestion – I candied them! It is Easter weekend after all, and I thought our blood sugar wasn’t quite high enough. Cranberries might not be spring-ish, but salads sure are. I used to find that a winning salad had four things – bitey greens, nippy cheese, fresh fruit, and candied nuts. Now my daughter has a nut allergy, so this time I morphed the formula by swapping the nuts for seeds and candying the cranberries. Worked like a charm.
Spring Kale Salad with Candied Cranberries and Goat Cheese
- Kale, hard spines removed, leaves chopped
- Goat cheese
- Candied cranberries
- Green onions
- Fresh, colourful cherry tomatoes
- Sunflower seeds
- Honey Mustard Dressing: 3Tbsp olive oil, 1 1/2 Tbsp white wine vinegar, 1Tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 1/2tsp honey
How to candy cranberries: Make simple syrup – boil 2C sugar with 2C water until sugar dissolves. Pierce cranberries and pop them into the syrup. Refrigerate for at least a few hours – overnight is suggested. Remove cranberries and roll them in fine sugar (I only had normal white sugar, and it worked AOK). Let them dry for a few hours on parchment or a silpat. Hang onto the pink simple syrup.
Results: Cracklin cranberries, this salad was great! I could see myself using candied cranberries for desserts, too, or candying other fruits for different purposes. Rating: 3 yums. Hey, and with the cranberry infused simple syrup, I made this!
Cranberry gin fizz anyone? Cheers to spring!