Iris Clark Neumann: Apple bars, cranberry salad, carrots make a complete Turkey Day spread

Bringing a dish to share at Thanksgiving is a tradition in many families. Thinking of familiarity, favorites, and trying to pick something extra special, got me thumbing through an old fashioned source — my recipe box.

I picked out several and lined up the hand-written cards on my kitchen counter, but went to bed without making my selections. Choices included cakes having pumpkin and/or apples, two copies of nearly identical cranberry apple salads, an apple pastry, and orange flavored carrots.

This morning I knew one choice would be the apple pastry, once made by my Grandma Terra Voxland. I have a vivid memory of the first time she brought it to our house when I was a kid. She set a cookie sheet of it on my mom's stove. I remember taking one piece, then another, and another.

I discovered she'd found the recipe in the Spring Garden Cookbook, a collection of recipes from the Lutheran church where she'd attended as a girl. There is something that makes this pastry so tasty and it might be the lard in the crust.

When I need lard, it can usually be found in a blue package in the refrigerated section of packaged meats at the grocery store.

My second copy of cranberry Waldorf salad was attributed to my sister-in-law, Janice Avery. I remember the Thanksgiving at her house when I had copied down her recipe.

This was a favorite of hers and another sister-in-law, Debbie, at our Avery Thanksgiving. Since Debbie passed away over two years ago, I'm doing this in memory of her.

My third recipe choice sounded like a special way to serve a favorite vegetable, sliced carrots. Although it had been in my file for years, I don't remember using it. It's one that could be doubled and made ahead to be reheated later.

After peeling, slicing, and cooking up a pound of carrots today, I tasted them with their added sauce and thinking, something is missing. Although the sauce is thickened orange juice, it just didn't have the orange taste I expected.

Then I thought, I know, it needs some grated orange peel to make the orange taste pop. And that did it!

My sister, Beth, is hosting Thanksgiving this year. She posted a list of menu options for us to choose to bring and share. I'm doing my usual pumpkin pies and casserole of squash, but am also making mashed rutabagas.

The last one is something new for me. I have tried liking rutabagas, but found when roasting cubes of it, that it didn't cook as quickly as say, cubes of squash.

However, the Thanksgiving issue of my Eating Well magazine explained it’s a vegetable that needs longer cooking than potatoes, actually close to an hour. I plan to try their suggestion of mashing it with whole milk and mixing in crumbled, cooked bacon.

This may be a dismal failure or, who knows, maybe it will become the new favorite. To be safe, I won't prepare a large quantity of it.

Although I signed up to bring an apple pie, I've decided the apple pastry might be a better choice. If one cuts the pieces small, guests can have it and pumpkin pie too!

When granddaughter Kylie stopped by today, she gave the pastry her nod of approval after stuffing a piece in her mouth and giving a muffled, “This is good!”

If no one else has chosen the cranberry salad, I will bring in memory of Debbie.

That's what holidays are for, memories, familiar dishes, and maybe trying something new with people you love.

But a word of caution, be sure to use lard in the apple pastry and real whipping cream in the cranberry salad.

 

Orange Glazed Carrots

1-16 ounce bag carrots, peeled, ends trimmed, and sliced thin

½ teaspoon salt

¾ cup boiling water

1 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

½ cup golden or dark raisins

½ teaspoon grated orange peel

Salt and pepper

Place thinly sliced carrots in a 2 quart sized sauce pan, add salt and boiling water. Heat again to boiling, then lower heat, cover and cook for 6 to 8 minutes until carrots are tender crisp.

Measure the orange juice in a liquid measure. Add sugar and cornstarch and stir until dissolved. Pour into the hot carrots, without draining cooking water. Stir in the raisins and orange peel.

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until sauce is slightly thickened. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.

 

Cranberry Waldorf Salad

½ pound fresh or frozen cranberries, washed (about 3 cups)

¾ cup sugar

3 cups miniature marshmallows

1 cup green grapes, sliced in half

1 cup drained pineapple chunks (½ of a 20-ounce can)

½ cup chopped nuts

1 cup whipping cream

2 cups peeled and chopped semi-tart apples (Haralson or Granny Smith)

Chop cranberries coarsely in a food processor, transfer to a bowl, mix with sugar and let stand for 30 minutes. Measure in the marshmallows, grapes, pineapple chunks and nuts. Mix together.

Whip the whipping cream until it thickens, but don't over whip.  Pour in the whipped cream and mix together. Fold in the chopped apples. Chill well before serving.

 

Apple Pastry Bars

Crust:

2 ½ cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

¾ cup lard

1 egg

Milk

Stir together flour, salt and sugar. Measure lard by filling a 2 cup liquid measure to 1 ¼ cup line with water. Spoon in lard (and submerge it) until it reaches the 2 cup line. Pour off water and add lard to flour mixture.

Using a pastry blender, cut in lard until well blended. Break egg into liquid measuring cup, add milk until it reaches the 2/3 cup line. Whisk milk and egg together. Pour into flour mixture and mix together with a fork.

Divide the dough in half and shape half into an oblong. Roll out into a large oblong, to fit within a 12 by 18 inch pan, about 11 by 16 inches.

Reserve rest of pastry and prepare filling:

2/3 cup crushed corn flakes (pack into measuring cup, crushing as flakes are added)

8 cups semi-tart apples, peeled, quartered, cored and cut into ¼ inch thick slices

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 egg white

Sprinkle corn flakes over crust in pan to within an inch of the edges. Layer apples over corn flakes to within about ½ inch of edge.

Mix sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the apples. Roll out top crust slightly smaller than as the lower crust.

Lay over the apples and turn up the edges of the lower crust over the top crust and pinch together. Slightly beat the egg white, then brush it over the top crust.

Bake in a 375 degree oven about 45 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately drizzle with a glaze while hot:

1 cup powdered sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla

2 to 3 tablespoons water

Cool, then cut into squares.