In most families, Thanksgiving is one of the most anticipated dinners in the year! All good Southern cooks bring out their best dishes to share. In our family, like most, each one had their very own “specialty”. This month I’d like to highlight my sister-in-law, Katie Tryon in Tallahassee. Katie, who will soon be 97 years young, still cooks delicious meals when we visit her. Not only that, her car is in her garage and she still drives herself where she wants to go! In the early years Katie hosted most of the Evans family gatherings and we always looked forward to one of her “specialties”, Cranberry Congealed Salad”! Through the years, she has shared her recipe with all of the family members and this month, I’m going to share it with you. You can see from my photograph, why it is always an anticipated dish. It also makes a beautiful accompaniment to a Christmas dinner or dinner party.
Then, we’ll have some fun with an old carnival favorite, Funnel Cakes! I got this recipe is from the Amish country, when we lived in Pennsylvania. The children love these but they can also be a fun breakfast for week-end guests.
Katie’s Cranberry Salad
2 large (6-oz.) pkg. Raspberry Jell-O
3 cups boiling water
½ of a 12-oz. can Minute Maid frozen orange juice
concentrate, undiluted (3/4 cup)
1 (14-oz.) can Ocean Spray whole cranberry sauce,
mashed lightly to break apart.
1 Red Delicious apple, unpeeled & finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped pecans
Dissolve Jell-O in the boiling water. Stir in orange juice. Mash the cranberry sauce with a fork to break up clumps, adding it to the Jell-O mixture. Add the chopped apples and pecans, stirring all ingredients together and pour into a 9x13 dish. Chill until soft jell. (about an hour). Return dish to fridge to completely congeal. Cut into 12 squares to serve.
Note: I cut the apple in half, removed core, quarter each half, place it in the food processor, pulsing about 6 pulses for pretty and even little pieces.
Amish Funnel Cakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tsps. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1½ cups whole milk
Sift the dry ingredients together and set aside. Whisk the eggs and milk together in a small bowl and gradually add to the dry mixture, stirring with a rubber spatula. Let the batter “rest” for 15 minutes. (this is an important step) While the batter is “resting”, pour the oil in a 9-inch black iron skillet or large heavy saucepan, about 1-inch deep. Heat on medium high to 350 degrees. Fill the small funnel (shown) with ½ cup of the batter, holding your finger on the bottom to cover the hole. When oil is hot, move your finger from the bottom of the funnel and starting in the center of the pan, move the funnel in a circular motion round and round (see photo) Let cake fry for about 2 minutes, until golden brown, then carefully turn the cake over using tongs or spatula and fry the other side till golden brown. Place on paper towel and fry the next one. Repeat until all batter is gone. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm. This particular recipe makes 3 cups of batter and will make 6, large 7-inch funnel cakes. You can multiply this recipe for more funnel cakes or make smaller ones, pouring less batter in the funnel.
Note: It’s important to use a small hole funnel, about 7/16” (the mark on a ruler just before the ½-inch) because using a larger hole makes it too “doughy” and using a hole too small makes it too crispy.
Note: You can top funnel cakes with honey or maple syrup or sweetened fresh strawberries or fried apples and Redi-Whip!