Cranberries

The big day is almost here and I’m planning to spend the whole day cooking, which I’m quite looking forward to. On the task list, in approximate order: make bread crumbs for stuffing, prepare cranberry relish, bake pies, peel and slice vegetables for a gratin (recipe courtesy of Dan Green of Salt), and pick up the turkey at Tangletown Farm in Middlesex. I’m planning to brine the turkey overnight, with a bit of maple in the brining solution to infuse the bird with some sweetness.

I’m excited about the cranberry relish, a recipe that arrives in my kitchen courtesy of Kelly McCracken. Her recipe includes apples, pears, and pineapple, in addition to fresh, whole cranberries. This year I found cranberries from Vermont Cranberry Company in Fletcher, Vermont. Owner Bob Lesnikoski has been growing cranberries since 1995; this year he and his family tended two acres, which yielded about 20,000 pounds of berries.

Cranberries require a lot of water, and for the farmer, “the challenge is recreating their growing environment in an upland situation,” Lesnikoski explains, adding that the fields are heavily irrigated in order to meet the plants’ needs.

Vermont Cranberry Company has a wide wholesale distribution throughout Vermont. Northern climate cranberry production “probably wouldn’t happen anywhere else,” Lesnikoski says. “Vermont is such a cool food state.”

To fuel the day of cooking, I’ve pulled a bunch of CDs off the shelf, including Johnny Cash, Michael Stipe, and Nina Simone. Let the cooking marathon begin…

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