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THANKSGIVING: Easy Cranberry Flower Centerpiece

If you like flowers on the table for a special dinner, you know that it’s necessary to keep the arrangement low.

Otherwise, guests can’t see each other across the table.

Tall arrangements belong on a buffet or side table.

You can finds scores of Thanksgiving centerpieces online (check out these on Pinterest).

But for the time-pressed or craft-challenged, this arrangement from Ocean Spray (photo #1) couldn’t be easier.

The centerpiece uses elegant white ranunculus in a bowl of cranberries.

Yellow ranunculus or other white blooms like roses (photo #2) work just as well.

THANKSGIVING CENTERPIECE

Materials

  • 1 clear glass vase, pitcher or bowl
  • 1 or 2 12-ounce bags of fresh cranberries (depending on size of vase)
  • 1 bouquet of fresh flowers
  • Water
  • ¼ teaspoon of bleach per quart of vase water*
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the cranberries in the vase with enough water to fill the vase 3/4 full.

    2. USING a sharp knife or scissors, trim 1/4″ off the ends of the flowers, cutting at a 45° angle. Add the cut flowers to the vase, arranging as needed.

    2. REPLACE the water as needed, and discard the berries when they become soft. Snip the ends of the flowers 1/4 inch each day, as you change the water in the vase.

    ________________

    *Instead of changing the water daily, you can add bleach to the water to keep bacteria (along with their aroma and cloudiness) from growing.

     

    Floral Cranberry Centerpiece Ocean Spray
    [1] Easy, peasy: two ingredients, plus a vase and water (photo courtesy Ocean Spray).

    Floral Cranberry Centerpiece
    [2] A variation with white roses, from Xmaslet | Tumblr.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: 30+ Ways To Have A Greener Holiday

    Reusable Christmas Shopping Bag
    [1] Go green with reusable shopping bags (photo courtesy Pier 1 Imports).

    Rechargeable Batteries
    [2] Give rechargeable batteries with gifts that require batteries (photo courtesy Energizer).

    Feeding America
    [3] Some people would rather you give a donation in their name (image courtesy Feeding America).

    Newspaper Gift Wrap
    [4] Use newspaper wrap to plain or fancy effect (photo courtesy Steemit).

    Living Christmas Tree
    [5] Buy a living tree that you can plant outside after the holiday (photo courtesy Paramount Landscaping).

    Pine Cone Christmas Tree Ornament
    [6] Make tree ornaments from pine cones (this one from DIY Ready, more from Pinterest).

     

    We try to live as green a life as possible: recycling everything we can, making judicious purchase choices, using a Sodastream and a water filter instead of tossing endless empty bottles into the landfill.

    We don’t use wrapping paper, instead packaging gifts in reusable gift bags; and using our mom’s example of wrapping large gifts in yesterday’s newspapers (use the comics section for kids’ gifts).

    We weren’t surprised to learn that, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, household waste increases by more than 25%.

    Environmental activist C.J. Quinn has devoted her life to raising awareness about environmental stewardship. She has shared with us her article, “Six Tips to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint During the Holidays.”

    Give the earth a present this year, she says. “Celebrate the holidays with the gift of giving by knowing that you are thinking about the environment. Use the following tips this holiday season and smile because you are not only giving to your loved ones, but to our precious planet as well.”

    Here are her tips, interspersed with a few of our own.
     
    GIFT-BUYING TIPS

  • Bring your own bags when shopping; several reusable bags should do the trick (photo #1).
  • Get to know responsible manufacturers and shop green.
  • Buy energy-saving electronic items.
  • Buy rechargeable batteries for gifts that take batteries (photo #2).
  • Shop online and save gas (editor’s note: balance this with supporting local merchants).
  • Shop for fair-trade and locally made products.
  • Purchase natural and organically grown products.
  • Make your own gifts: bake, knit, sew, build, photograph, craft, etc.
  •  
    GIFT-GIVING TIPS

  • Give a charitable donation in someone’s name (photo #3). Some people will prefer this to “more stuff.”
  • Give gift certificates to a spa, restaurant, concert, sporting event, rock climbing wall, etc.
  • Purchase memberships to a museum, theater, gym, etc.
  • Create coupons to cook dinner, babysit, pet sit, etc.
  • Try your hand at crafting: soap, candles, ornaments (photo #6), etc.
  • Propose a “white elephant” gift-giving to friends, family or your work group. Regifting is fun and purposeful…and empties out the closets of things you’ve never used.
  •  
    GIFT-WRAPPING TIPS

  • Avoid paper that is made out of foil or metallic materials.
  • Purchase wrapping paper that is made out of recycled materials and can be recycled. Better yet…
  • Paint or stamp recycled kraft paper or plain shopping bags to make the wrapping personal (photo #4).
  • Wrap with newspaper. You can even make bows from it (photo #5). Tie with twine, which can be reused.
  • Wrap your gifts in large handkerchiefs or scarves (check out furoshiki, Japanese fabric wrapping).
  • Re-use ribbon and bows and keep the ones you get this year.
  •  
    CHRISTMAS TREE TIPS

  • Buy a living tree that you can replant (photo #5).
  • Recycle your non-living (cut) tree after the holidays.
  • Plant a tree in your yard or in a pot on your rooftop to replace the tree you bought.
  • Buy an artificial tree and spray it with essential oils of cedar, pine, or any earthy fragrance to spread holiday cheer in your house.
  • Decorate your tree with ornaments that you find at thrift stores, or use pine cones (photo #6), origami or other homemade ornaments.
  • Take the old-fashioned approach, using strings of popcorn and cranberries instead of tinsel.
  •  
    DECORATING TIPS

  • Use decorations year after year.
  • Set a timer for your lights to turn on at dusk and go off at bedtime.
  • Use LED string lights.
  • Use natural materials from your yard: branches, pine cones (photo #6), dried leaves, etc.
  • Use LED candles.
  •  
    CHRISTMAS CARD TIPS

  • Send eCards.
  • Buy only holiday cards printed on recycled paper.
  • Make your own cards using recyclable materials.
  •  
    Reducing your carbon footprint creates another kind of peace on earth—as well as your own peace of mind.

     


      

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    RECIPE: Cranberry-Apple Crisp

    Not excited about pumpkin pie? Can’t have pecans or other nuts?

    There’s always the venerable apple pie to end Thanksgiving dinner. But let us suggest an easy-to-make alternative:

    Cranberry Apple Crisp from Ocean Spray.

    We recently were served a piece, and it was love at first bite. When one guest had to leave in advance of dessert, it was all we could do not to reach across the table and snatch her plate (we were among strangers, and shy).

    Fortunately, this Ocean Spray recipe is so easy…and with a crisp, you don’t have to roll out pie crusts.

    This is a recipe everyone will enjoy.

    Crisp, crumble, cobbler: here’s the difference.
     
     
    RECIPE: CRANBERRY-APPLE CRISP

    Prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 45 minutes. This recipe is made in a baking pan, but you can make individual servings in ramekins.

    Ingredients For 9 Servings

  • 5 cups sliced tart apples (about 6 medium apples)
  • 1 1/2 cups Ocean Spray fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter, cut into small pieces
  • Optional garnish: vanilla ice cream, whipped cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375ºF. Lightly grease a 9-inch square baking pan.

    2. PARE and core the apples, rinse the cranberries. Layer the apples and cranberries in the pan, sprinkling with sugar as you layer.

    3. MAKE the topping: Combine the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Work in the butter the until light and crumbly. Sprinkle topping evenly over apples and cranberries.

    4. BAKE 45 minutes or until apples are tender.
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF CRANBERRIES

     

    Cranberry Crisp

    [1] It looks humble, but tastes divine (photo Amy Sussman/AP Images for Ocean Spray—all photos courtesy Ocean Spray)

    Cranberry Crisp
    [2] You can make individual portions in ramekins.

    Ocean Spray Cranberries
    [3] Ocean Spray cranberries are available fresh or frozen…and the fresh ones freeze beautifully if you have to many (photo Ocean Spray)

     

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Opal Apples

    Opal Apples
    [1] Opal apples: golden beauties (both photos courtesy Golden Sun Marketing).

    Opal Apples Sliced
    [2] Slice it and enjoy it, without any browning.

    Opal Apples Tree
    [2] Growing in the sunshine.

     

    The most food excitement we’ve had recently in our house is…an apple.

    Not just any apple, but The Opal® apple, a relatively new breed that has finely made its way across the country.

    This exceptional, golden-skin apple (with touches of blush) is:

  • Super juicy (the juice ran down the apple into our mouths)
  • Sweet and tangy (analogous to Honeycrisp, but even better)
  • Crunchy
  • All purpose (they work in any recipe—try this slaw)
  • Non GMO-verified (the first U.S. apple variety to be verified)
  • Available in conventional and organic varieties…
  •  
    …and (drumroll…)

  • Naturally non-browning (i.e., less likely to brown after slicing)
  •  
    Yes, the flesh of this beautiful golden orb won’t turn brown.

    It’s our new favorite apple-a-day. They’re available November through March, so we’ll be happy for a while. Here’s a store locator.

    For recipes and more, visit OpalApple.com.
     
    THANKSGIVING IDEA

    Use Opals as name cards for Thanksgiving dinner. Create name tags and attach them to the apples—which turns them into party favors.

    If you don’t use name cards, place a bowl of apples at the front door, so guests can take an apple with them upon departing.

    When they wake up the next morning and dig into their apple, they’ll have another reason to give thanks.
     
    OPAL APPLE HISTORY

    Opal is the brand name for a cultivar of apple also known in the industry as UEB32642. It was created by crossing a Topaz apple with a Golden Delicious (let us hastily add that to us, the Golden Delicious seems to have contributed only its color, and not the bland qualities we associate with that particular cultivar).

    The breed was developed by the Institute of Experimental Botany in Prague, Czech Republic in 1999*.

    In North America, it is grown exclusively by Broetje Orchards in Washington, and marketed by the First Fruits company, a collaborative marketing company owned by growers. It has limited growers worldwide; currently Austria, France and the Netherlands.

    It was first introduced in 2010* in the Pacific Northwest, where it is grown by family-owned Broetje Orchards in Washington. The child of the Topaz was christened Opal, much more memorable than UEB32642.

     
    Opal Goes To Outer Space

    On January 10, 2015, the Opal embarked on a mission to outer space, on a delivery mission to the International Space Station aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

    NASA approached FirstFruits with the request.

    Because of the high cost of sending items into space, each crew member received only one or two apples…but no doubt have another to-eat item on their lists when they return.

    Opal Gives Back

    The Opal apple also gives back. Each Opal grower also commits to contributing a minimum of 10% of their profits to charitable causes. Broetje Orchard, the North American grower, donates 50% or more of their net profits to charities around the globe.

    The Opal Apple Youth Make a Difference Initiative was launched in 2013, awarding grants to youth-led non-profits focused on issues surrounding food security and politics, nutrition and agriculture.
    ________________

    *It can take decades to develop a new cultivar of fruits and vegetables. The release date, 1999 for this cultivar, denotes when the new breed was ready for release, i.e., to be distributed to growers, who pay a royalty fee per tree planted. The developer (in this case, the Institute of Experimental Botany in Prague) can grant exclusive rights to one grower in a country or region; or enable a wider distribution.

    After they plant the seedlings, growers wait years for trees to mature and bear fruit (and also, to see how well the cultivar grows in their terroir. Standard apple trees will not produce fruit until they are between 6 and 10 years of age.

    Once the trees bear successful fruit, the grower can then expand the acres cultivated…and wait up to 10 more years for those trees to mature. That’s why the rest of the country is only now getting shipments of the Opal apple.


      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Top 10 Turkey Cooking Tips

    Have you been blasted with turkey tips this season? If not, these tips, adapted from Whole Foods Market, will help you out:

    1. PLAN FOR THAWING

    If you purchase a frozen bird, plan ahead!

    Depending on its size, the turkey could take half a day to defrost for small for small birds, or multiple days for large birds.

    2. BASTE ONLY ONCE

    Baste your bird only at the beginning of the roasting process. Basting later, or continuous basting, can make the skin soft instead of crispy. Similarly…

    3. KEEP THE DOOR CLOSED

    Resist the urge to frequently open the oven door and check on the turkey. It causes temperature fluctuations and lengthens the cooking time.

    4. CHECK THE TEMPERATURE

    Check the doneness with a meat thermometer, preferably an instant-read.

    Test at the thickest part of the thigh, not touching bone. When the thermometer registers 165°F, it’s ready.

    If you have stuffed the turkey cavity, plan for an extra 5-7 minutes cooking time per pound, and be sure that both the stuffing and the turkey each register 165°F.

    5. CHECK THE TIME

    At 350°F, the bird needs bout 13 minutes per pound.

    When you plan the time for serving, don’t forget the extra 30 minutes of resting time required before the cooked bird is ready to carve.

    6. TENT WITH FOIL

    If the drumsticks begin to brown too quickly, cover them loosely with foil.

    7. FLIP THE BIRD

    Start roasting the bird with the breast side down. This protects the white meat from overcooking and helps absorb juices as they run downward.

    Halfway through, flip the bird over with the breast side. This is so the skin crisps and gets golden brown.

    Consider some turkey flipping tools.

    8. REST BEFORE CARVING

    Tom needs to rest for about 30 minutes before carving. This redistributes the juices; otherwise, they’ll spurt out at the first slice, taking the moisture with them.

    If you want the skin to stay crisp, don’t cover the bird “to keep it warm” while it rests. That will hold in moisture and de-crisp the skin.

    Redistribution of juices also makes for smoother carving.

    9. PRESENTATION

    If don’t want to carve at the table, present the beautiful bird to your guests; then return to the kitchen to carve.

    10. PLATTER DECORATIONN

    Whether you carve at the table or serve a platter of sliced meat, decorate your platter. We prefer fruits and herbs that are decorative—i.e., not the cooked sides like Brussels sprouts and onions. For color and neatness, we like:

  • Blood orange quarters
  • Currant clusters (often called champagne grapes)
  • Kumquats or halved clementines
  • Lady apples
  • Lemon halves or slices
  • Pomegranate quarters
  • Red grapes or Concord grapes
  • Rosemary sprigs (our favorite herb for platter decoration)
  •  
    Ready, set, roast!

     

    Roast Turkey Whole Foods
    [1] You can present the turkey to guests during its resting stage. You can set the platter on the table to rest, so people can enjoy looking at the bird until you’re ready to carve. Otherwise, after the “big reveal,” bring the platter back to the kitchen to rest (photo courtesy Whole Foods Market).

    Turkey On Carving Board
    [2] Tom needs a rest! Never carve until the bird has rested for 30 minutes (photo courtesy Sur La Table).

    Carving The Turkey
    [3] After 30 minutes of rest, you can start carving (photo courtesy Charlie Palmer Steak).

     

      

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