Wednesday 30 November 2011

A Good Pantry Supper

We have several friends who love to fish, and who are kind enough to share their catch with us.  Every year we’re fortunate enough to receive quite a quantity of salmon, usually more than our small deep freeze will hold.  I put the salmon up in jars and it lasts us until the next year’s fishing season.  I love having it in the pantry.

The challenge with canned salmon seems to be coming up with something to make from it other than sandwiches.  There are old standards like salmon cakes and chowder, but even they can wear out their welcome if they appear on the dinner table too often.  I’m always on the lookout for recipes.

Some years ago, I came across a recipe for salmon loaf in a women’s magazine.  I don’t remember which magazine it was, but I do recall that I was reading it while waiting for an appointment.  I couldn’t take the magazine home with me so I copied the recipe onto the back of an old grocery list—the only piece of paper I had in my purse—intending to transcribe it later.  Instead, the recipe on the grocery list got tucked into the back of one of my cookbooks and I’ve been using it ever since.  Its current tattered and spattered condition is testimony to its popularity at our house.

Over the years, I’ve made many variations of the original salmon loaf recipe, including the one you see in this blog.  I’ve substituted different vegetables and added fresh dill when I have it.  I’ve even taken the uncooked mixture, formed it into meatballs, and baked them. They turned out really well.

It’ll never be the prettiest girl at the dance, but salmon loaf is tasty, easy to make, affordable, and versatile.  I always have the ingredients (or reasonable substitutions) on hand, so it makes a great fall back recipe for days when I can't make it to the grocery store.

I often serve our salmon loaf just as it is when it comes out of the oven, but it’s also very good with either hollandaise sauce or b├ęchamel. 

There are only two of us and this recipe makes about six servings so I'm grateful that the cooked loaf freezes well.  I let the leftover part of the loaf cool, cut it into slices, wrap the slices individually, and freeze them.  When I’m ready to use the frozen slices I allow then to thaw completely, then cook them on a griddle in a little bit of butter.  Griddling adds a little bit of crust to the outside of the slices, making a nice texture.

One of my favourite brunch dishes is a slice of griddled salmon loaf topped with a poached egg and some hollandaise sauce; like Eggs Benedict.  

To make a salmon loaf, you need:

  • 1 pint jar (or two 8-ounce tins) of canned salmon, drained, with 2 Tablespoons the liquid reserved.  (I used pink salmon because that’s what I have on hand.  Sockeye makes a more colourful loaf but pink salmon tastes just fine.)
  • 2 cups soft breadcrumbs
  • 2/3 cup chopped bell pepper (or whatever other vegetable you care to substitute.  I’ve even used sliced black olives.  They work great.)
  • 1/3 cup minced onion
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • A dash of pepper
If you’re using home-canned salmon, you’ll probably want to add some salt to the mixture. 

A couple of teaspoonfuls of fresh dill make a nice addition too, if you happen to have some on hand.

Flake the salmon.  Combine it with the reserved liquid from the jar or cans, and the remaining ingredients.  Make sure the ingredients are well combined but try not to overwork them.  Place the mixture in a well greased loaf pan.

Bake the salmon loaf at 350┬║ Fahrenheit for 45 minutes.  It will take on a little colour around the edges and it'll firm up into a loaf that can be easily sliced.  Serve it piping hot.

Lunch on Clements

A friend of mine recently took me to Lunch on Clements at the Clements Centre here in town.  It was a happy experience for me.  We’re blessed here in the valley with a diverse community and I’m always delighted to find new ways to get to know my neighbours.

Lunch on Clements is one of a variety of programs offered by The Clements Centre, providing vocational training for adults with developmental disabilities.  Its trainees learn food preparation, customer service, cashier, and janitorial skills.  Its customers receive a good lunch that is prepared and served with pride and enthusiasm in a pleasant, cheerful environment.  The menu changes weekly, offering a welcome change from fast food.

While I was enjoying my meal, I learned that Lunch on Clements also offers a catering menu which includes Christmas baking.  I know that a lot of you are very busy and looking for ways to simplify your holiday preparations, so I thought I’d pass the information on to you.  It’s a win/win opportunity:  Ordering baked goods from Lunch on Clements offers convenience and quality, and your orders will provide meaningful employment to people who really appreciate the opportunity to work.

The Clements Centre has been part of our community since 1957.  It was started by a group of parents who opened a school for their children as an alternative to placing them in an institution.  Operation of the school was assumed by the school board in 1965.  The society then opened a sheltered workshop for adults with developmental disabilities.  This was followed with the addition of a preschool and kindergarten in 1968.

In 1971, permanent buildings were built on the current site on Clements Street and, in 1973, an innovative integrated daycare replaced the preschool and kindergarten, offering services for children both with and without disabilities.  That program grew into the infant development program in 1975 and, in 1978, expanded into the Children’s Place facility on Banks Road.

In the 1980’s institutions were gradually closed, and housing and services for people with developmental disabilities were developed within our community.  Services the Clements Centre Society offered were broadened to include speech therapy, physiotherapy, residences, and respite programs. The range of services has continued to grow in scope, to support people living independently within our community as the society pursues its vision of community inclusion.  

If you’d like to learn more about the Clements Centre Society, please visit their website at 

If you’d like to order Christmas baking from Lunch on Clements, please phone (250) 746-4135, extension 1.

Saturday 26 November 2011

Tea Tin Mending Box

I find it difficult to discard a good container.  If it has a lid and looks like it might be of some use to me, I want to keep it.  I've steeled myself to put empty plastic containers in the recycling bin but if a container is made of cardboard and has a good lid, I always want to save it and make something out of it.

My saved containers do tend to accumulate.  Once every couple of months or so I have to strengthen my resolve, get ruthless, and discard all but the ones I can actually find a use for within the immediate future.  

Last week, I was sorting through containers and noticed that I'd accumulated several small cardboard tea tins like this one.

The recess in the lid intrigued me.  It seemed a good place to hold some sort of soft fabric finish.  I decided that it would make an excellent base for a pin cushion and that, in turn, inspired me to make a little mending kit.

First I made the pin cushion.  Because this is the sort of project I like to do while I'm watching TV, I chose to sew mine by hand.  If you prefer to use a sewing machine, I'm sure it would be much faster.

I had some blue fabric in my scrap bin but most anything you like would work.  It only takes a little fabric so you could even use something like an embroidered handkerchief.  I see packages of them from time to time in the thrift store and they often have a lovely vintage charm to them.

I began by tracing two circles onto the wrong side of the fabric; one using the lid as a template and the other about twice as large.  (I traced around an 8-ounce custard cup.)  I cut around the circles leaving about a quarter inch of extra fabric.  Then I stitched around the circles I'd traced, using a running stitch.

I folded the outside edge of the fabric in, along the outline I'd stitched, and pinned it in place.  Then I stitched around the fabric again, close to the folded edge to make a hem.

When both circles were hemmed, I turned them wrong side to wrong side, with the right sides of both circles facing out, and pinned them together, matching the hemmed edges and gathering the extra fabric on the larger circle equally around its circumference.

I sewed the two circles together, using a whip stitch along the edges and making little pleats from the excess fabric on the larger circle.  I left a little space un-stitched so that I could stuff my pin cushion.


I filled the pin cushion with fibre fill, stuffing it pretty tightly, and then stitched the open edge shut.  The finished pin cushion looked like this:

I attached the pin cushion to the lid with tacky glue.  I put the glue on the plastic lid, making sure to apply some under the rim all the way around.

Then I put the pin cushion on top of the glue, taking care to tuck the stitched edge of the cushion under the rim of the lid all the way around.

While the glue was drying, I decorated the tin.  First I cut a piece of scrapbook paper as wide as the tin was tall.  A magazine photo, an old map, or wrapping paper would work just fine too.  I checked to make sure that the paper was a good fit by wrapping it around the tin, then folded back the excess paper, leaving a bit of an overlap.

I took the paper off the tin again, cut along the folded line, and then covered the back of the paper with glue from a glue stick.  Once the glue was on the paper, I wrapped the paper back around the tin, using my fingers to smooth out any air bubbles.

Once the tin was covered with paper, I added some embellishments.  I cut a quote ("Constant use will not wear ragged the fabric of true friendship") from a vellum quote stack and glued it onto the tin with my glue stick.  It was transparent enough that the pattern of the paper behind it still shows through.  Then I threaded some thin ribbon through a couple of heart shaped buttons, knotted the ribbon and trimmed off the excess.  I used glue dots to attach the buttons to the tin.

I filled my mending tin with some supplies and tools that I bought at the dollar store, together with a little plastic box (another container I'd saved) filled with some snaps, buttons, straight pins and a couple of needle threaders.

This little mending kit is small enough to fit in a desk drawer or a suitcase. It would make a useful and thoughtful holiday gift. 

This project was linked to Tip Junkie's Tip Me Tuesday and to Salvaged Sunday hosted by Getting Freedom from Debt.

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Measuring Up

Some years ago, I spent a week at a loved one's house, pinch-hitting during a daycare crisis.  You know how those things go:  You think you've got everything organized and then suddenly your daycare worker is unavailable and the whole organizational thing tumbles like a row of dominoes.  I was happy to help out.  It gave me a chance for a nice long visit with the kids, and my absence helped restore a little Aunt B appreciation here at home.

Because I was taking care of the kids and preparing meals, I became unusually well acquainted with the kitchen I was visiting.  It was a revelation to me:  Few of us realize how reliant we are upon the things in our own kitchen until we roll up our sleeves and go to work in someone else's space.  This was particularly true during my daycare visit because the person I was helping out didn't like to cook and, consequently, spent little time or money on equipping her kitchen. I, on the other hand, am to dishes and cookware what Imelda Marcos was to shoes.  My cupboards are full, and my appliances as beautiful and useful as I can afford them to be.  

The spartan conditions in that unfamiliar kitchen were a challenge to me.  I was especially surprised to find no decent knives or dry measuring cups.  Until I had worked in that kitchen, it had never occurred to me that even basic cooking could be conducted without the help of a chef's knife, a paring knife, or proper cups and spoons for measuring both wet and dry ingredients.

When I was a college student, my dad often gave me things like Tupperware and paring knives as birthday and Christmas gifts.  At the time I was just learning to cook and, because of my limited budget, not enjoying it all that much so I looked askance at his choices.  I found, though, that these basic tools were often in my hands and, because he had thought to provide them, I was truly grateful for my dad's thoughtfulness.  

I took a lesson from Dad's example and noted what my loved one needed in the way of practical cooking tools. I gave those tools as Christmas and birthday gifts. The recipient of my gifts reacted in much the same way I had back in my student days, but they later came to appreciate how helpful those gifts were and thanked me for them.  After all, even if you don't like cooking, the job is bound to be a little more tolerable when you're provided with at least the basic tools. 

If you're considering giving a gift of kitchen tools and wondering what might come in handy, a good list is provided in "The Impoverished Students' Book of Cookery, Drinkery and Housekeepery" by Jay F. Rosenberg (Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1971).  I refer you to this book because it is an extremely bare-bones list of the things and skills a person starting out needs to survive.  If the person you are buying for lacks anything that is on the "Things to Fill Up a Kitchen With" list, you can be assured that they really do need them.  I would add to that list a good chef's knife, a paring knife, and any sort of measuring implement from spoons to cups. 

Go forth and shop for these practical tools with a happy heart.  The kitchen tools aisle is far less likely to be mobbed with Christmas shoppers than the electronics aisle.  And take heart when your loved one looks at you oddly as they open that package of measuring spoons.  Once they see how often they use them, they will decide that your thoughtful gift has, indeed, truly measured up.

Sunday 20 November 2011

Apple and Cheddar Muffins

I’ll be the first to admit that we’re a little spoiled here in Vancouver Island.  We have mild temperatures pretty much year ‘round and, although some parts of the island see significant amounts of rain, here in the Cowichan Valley we are blessed with more sunshine than most folks on BC’s west coast. 

I woke this morning to blue skies and wispy white clouds, and to a heavy frost.  The frost was quite beautiful; dressing the leaves and branches and rooftops with a scrim of icy crystals that glittered in the sunlight.  Still, I had no desire to go for an early walk, choosing instead to don an extra pair of socks and curl up under a blanket on the couch with my coffee and a book. 

Although I enjoyed my little reading break, I was just deferring my chores and—no matter how much I tried to put it from my mind—my awareness that the bread box was empty wouldn’t leave me alone.  It was time to bake.

Because we turn the heat down low every night, my morning kitchen was not warm enough for bread to rise in.  In order to heat it up some I first made some apple and cheddar muffins.  They're leavened without yeast and so are not nearly so dependent upon a warm kitchen for rising.  They furnished both a hot breakfast for the two of us and, by the time they were done, enough heat from the oven that I could start my bread.   

Apple and cheddar muffins are simple to make, slightly sweet but hearty from the cheese, and perfect for breakfast on a chilly morning. 

 If you'd like to try them, you'll need:

  • 4 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1-1/2 cups of grated cheddar  (I like a lot of cheese in my muffins so I pack the cheese firmly into the measuring cup.)
  • 1 cup of canola oil (You can replace up to half of this with applesauce.)
  • 1-1/3 cups of sugar
  • 2 eggs (The farm eggs I get are not always consistently sized.  As you can see, I ended up with one very large, double-yoked egg, so I balanced the measurement by pairing it with the smallest egg in the carton.)
  • 2 cups of grated apple
When prepping my ingredients, I grate both the cheese and the apple on a box grater.  You could do it in the food processor but the discs on mine are either too coarse or too fine.  The box grater yields me the best texture.  I grate the cheese first and then the apple.  I learned the hard way that it doesn’t matter if a little cheese gets in with the wet ingredients but if apple juices get mixed in with the cheese you end up with a soggy mess.

The juice from the grated apples is one of the main sources of moisture in these muffins.  The dough is quite stiff and, if your apples are not juicy, it can end up too dry and crumbly.  You may want to have a little extra liquid (apple juice, or applesauce, or milk) on hand in case the batter needs thinning.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl until they are well combined.  Add the grated cheese, using your fingers to break the shreds apart and distribute them through the flour mixture.

In a separate bowl, stir the sugar into the grated apple.  Let it sit for a few minutes.  The sugar will draw some of the juices from the apple shreds. 

Beat the eggs and then add them to the apple mixture along with the oil.  Stir the wet ingredients until they're well combined.

Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture all at once and stir just until all the flour is moistened.  You’ll have a stiff dough; far firmer than a usual muffin dough.

Spoon the dough into prepared muffin pans.  I fill the muffin cups right full, so this recipe yields me 18 muffins.  If you fill the cups 2/3 full, you should get about 24 muffins.

Bake the muffins at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 25 minutes, until they’re lightly browned and spring back when lightly touched.  Allow them to cool in the pans for about 5 minutes before turning them out.

I prefer to serve them straight from the oven, but these muffins are lovely either hot or at room temperature, served simply with butter or dressed up with marmalade, cranberry claret jelly, or pepper jam.

This recipe is linked to the Hearth and Soul blog hop hosted by Premeditated Leftovers, The 21st Century Housewife, Penniless Parenting, and Zesty South Indian Kitchen.

Hearth & Soul Hop

Saturday 19 November 2011

Chocolate Haystacks

I lost someone very dear to me this week and find myself standing at the edge of the huge void left by her absence.  It has me thinking about how people deal with loss.  Some build bridges across the void with activity, or sleep, or prayer.  Some try to fill the void with noise, or company, or alcohol.  For me, the path to consolation appears to begin in the kitchen, and it is paved with chocolate.  I know that I cannot soothe my hurt with chocolate indefinitely and that feeding my stomach is not the same as soothing my soul but, for today, it's enough.  Tomorrow will bring a return to healthy eating and exercise.

This is one of the treats I baked today.  I didn't have my camera in the kitchen but I still had these photos on file from a post I made to Facebook last December.  I'm sharing them--and the recipe again--with the hope that my Facebook friends will excuse the repetition.

A great many of my friends and their families make fudge every year at Christmas-time.  My mom made chocolate haystacks instead.  I never got her recipe from her but was delighted to find a very similar one in Marion Cunningham's "Fanny Farmer Cookbook."  Ms. Cunningham's recipe is excellent, easy to make, and it produces cookies almost identical to the ones my mom made.  They're chewy, less overwhelmingly sweet than fudge, and have a good deep chocolate flavour.

We loved chocolate haystacks as kids and I enjoy them still.  Today they are providing me the comfort of happy childhood memories.  I hope you like them too.

To make chocolate haystacks you'll need:

  • baking sheets and parchment to line them with
  • a 14-ounce tin of sweetened condensed milk (400 grams)*
  • 3 ounces of good quality, unsweetened chocolate
  • 3 cups shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup of chopped walnuts, pecans, or raisins
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • a dash of salt

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a bowl.  Chop the chocolate and add it to the milk.

Heat the sweetened condensed milk and chocolate together in the microwave, in 30 second increments, stirring each time, until the chocolate has melted.

Stir in the remaining ingredients.

Scoop heaping teaspoonfuls of the mixture onto parchment lined cookie sheets.

Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes, taking care that the bottoms don't burn.  Allow them to cool on the cookie sheets and then transfer them to an airtight container for storage.

*Sweetened condensed milk is sold in Canada in 300 gram tins.  If you are buying 300 gram tins, you'll need to buy 2 tins and measure out the amount you need. 

Saturday 12 November 2011

Oh Christmas Craft, Oh Christmas Card

When we were kids, my mom was really good at coming up with holiday projects we could make.  I’m sure that some of them arose out of the simple need to occupy us on a rainy or snowy afternoon, but I loved them all.  I still enjoy a good holiday project, especially if it’s something that I can craft with some of the kids in my life. 

Card making is often a good way to occupy children for an afternoon or two.  Most of the materials can be found quite inexpensively at the dollar store or at an office supply store.  If you break the project down into steps, it can be extended over a couple of crafting sessions and, if you want to, you can make several cards at once.

If you celebrate Christmas, there’s always a need for one or two cards even if you’re not in the habit of mailing them.  There are cards for teachers, cards in which to enclose a tip for the paperboy or hairdresser, and thank-you notes to write after Christmas.  A bundle of home made cards tied up with a pretty ribbon can make a thoughtful, inexpensive gift.

This is a good card to make with kids. I’ve made this project with children as young as three, and with kids right through their teens.  Depending upon the age group you’re working with, you may have to adapt the design a bit or do one or two of the steps yourself but you'll find that the design is easy to work with.

To make these cards you’ll need:

  • Blank quarter fold cards (The cards should measure 4-1/4 by 5-1/2 inches.  You can usually buy them quite inexpensively at places like Staples.  They often come pre-packaged with matching envelopes.  If you can’t find them, they’re easily made by cutting a piece of 8-1/2 by 11 inch paper in half horizontally, and then folding each of the cut pieces in half.)
  • One piece of dark blue or purple cardstock for every four cards you intend to make.
  • One piece of green cardstock and one piece of regular white copy or printer paper for every eight cards you intend to make.
  • White acrylic paint.
  • An old toothbrush.
  • A glue stick.
  • Clear glitter glue in a squeeze bottle.  (I used Elmers.  If you can’t find glitter glue regular white glue will work.  Kids just seem to like the glitter glue better and any unplanned blobs or streaks are more likely to look like they’re a planned part of the design.)
  • Flat backed “jewels” from the dollar store.
  • Newspaper or a plastic tablecloth to cover your work surface.
  • Aprons or clothes that you don’t mind getting splattered with paint. (Acrylic paint will not come out once it’s dry.)
If you’re working with very young children, you’ll want to do the first step yourself before you make the cards with them. 

Begin by laying your dark blue or purple cardstock out flat on your work surface.  You’re going to be splattering paint onto it, so make sure that there’s a large clear space to work in or that furniture is covered with something that you can later wash or discard.  Cover a larger area of your work surface than I show in my photo.  I ended up spattering over the edges of the newspaper.

Pour a little paint out onto a piece of scrap cardboard and wet the toothbrush bristles with the paint.  You don’t want too much paint on the brush. 

Hold the toothbrush perpendicular to the paper, a few inches above it, and draw your thumb across the bristles to splatter the paint onto the paper in a fairly fine spray.  Try to make sure that there are no bare spots.  There needs to be paint on every part of the sheet.

When the paint has dried, cut the paper into four pieces, each 4-1/4 by 5-1/2 inches.

Now you’re ready to begin making the card fronts.  Cut the white sheet of paper in half vertically.  Tear a strip off each end of the paper, about 2-1/2 inches or so from the smooth edge.  The torn strips don’t have to be perfect.  Rough edges are actually a good thing. 

Fold the remaining paper in half, and cut along the fold.  Glue one piece of white paper onto each piece of blue or purple paper, aligning the smooth edges together.  The torn edges of the white paper should be near the middle of each card front.  If the edges overhang a bit, don’t worry.  Just trim them when the glue has dried.

Tear the green cardstock in half vertically, then tear some rough triangles out of the paper.  If you’re not comfortable tearing triangles, cut them with scissors instead.  They’ll still look fine. 

Glue a green triangle onto each card front so that they look like trees standing in the snow.

From this point on, it’s best to work with only one card on the work surface at a time.  Doing so will help to ensure that the glitter glue doesn’t end up on elbows, the backs of cards, your furniture…

Squeeze some glitter glue dots onto the trees.  Try to space them out but if the kids want to put them close together or clump them all in the middle, let them.  The cards are, after all, homemade.  Imperfection is part of their charm.

If you’re working with very young children, you may want to opt for different colours of glitter glue and to let them decorate the trees with just the glue.  If you’re working with older kids, have them place a “jewel” on each of the glue dots. 

When the card fronts are dry, glue them to the front of the blank quarter fold cards.  It works best if you apply the glue to the quarter fold card with a glue stick and then position the completed card front onto the glue.  The glue is forgiving enough that you should be able to slide the card front around a bit if you need to adjust its position. 

You can leave the cards blank inside or use a rubber stamp or stickers to add a sentiment. 

Happy card making!

Wednesday 9 November 2011

This Cranberry Relish Changed How I Think About Food

I’m sure that every cook has a few cookbooks that they revisit again and again.  I do.  One of mine is Helen Witty’s “Fancy Pantry.’ 
When I first got this book in 1986 I had mastered the basics of canning and preserving, and was looking to expand my repertoire to include some more adventurous fare.  I was intrigued by the table of contents so I bought it, brought it home, and worked my way through every single recipe.  Some were hits.  Others—like the mushroom ketchup—most definitely were not.  Still, there were more winners than losers; enough to keep me returning to this book year after year.

Ms. Witty’s cranberry relish recipe was more than a hit; it was an absolute revelation to me.  The first time I made this relish, I took it as a hostess gift for Thanksgiving at my sister’s house.  I spooned it onto my plate right beside my turkey, just as I always do with regular cranberry sauce.  I wasn’t expecting much but the first forkful hit me full on.  It was a salty and sweet, with some acidity from the cranberries and lemon juice, a bit of bite from the raw onion, and a hint of heat from the cayenne and ginger.  

You have to remember that I was experiencing this amazing combination of flavours at a time before TV made chefs more popular than movie stars, and when the selection of ingredients and spices in our small town grocery store was much more limited than what you will find there today.  We had not yet been exposed to world cuisine or to the wealth of flavours and variety of ingredients that are available to us now.  Sweet and salty was not a combination of flavours greatly in vogue, nor were sweet and savoury. That cranberry relish introduced us to something that was, to me, strikingly new:  It felt like my taste buds were celebrating Mardi Gras—with all its accompanying flamboyance and fireworks—rather than the predictable (and slightly dull) oranges and browns of autumn and Thanksgiving.

Since that first batch of relish, it’s made a regular appearance in our refrigerator, and not just for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  It’s an excellent accompaniment to sharp cheeses, cold cuts, poultry, ham, and sliced apples or pears, so I make it often.

Helen Witty’s recipe is so delicious that I really haven’t amended it at all over the years.  If you’d like to try it too, here’s how.

You’ll need:

  • 3 c. cranberries, either fresh or frozen and about half thawed at the time you make the relish
  • 3 Tbsp. finely chopped red onion or shallot (I prefer the onion)
  • 3/4 c. golden raisins, soaked briefly in hot water, then drained
  • 3/4 c. red currant jelly
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. salt
  • A generous pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, strained

Pick over the cranberries and rinse them.  Chop them coarsely.  (This can be done in a food processor.) Scrape them into a mixing bowl. (I used my big measuring cup this time.)

Coarsely chop your raisins.  (This is best done by hand.)  Add them to the cranberries, together with the chopped onion, and stir the ingredients together until they’re well combined.

Combine the currant jelly, sugar, salt, cayenne pepper, and ginger in a microwaveable measuring cup.  Give the ingredients a good stir so that the jelly begins to break down.  Microwave this mixture on high at 30 second intervals, giving the mixture a good whisk in between each interval, until it’s hot but not boiling and the sugar and salt have dissolved into the jelly.

Pour the hot jelly mixture over the cranberries and add the 3 Tbsp. of lemon juice.  Stir all the ingredients together and then transfer them to a glass jar or a lidded plastic container.  Let the mixture rest in the refrigerator for at least a day before using the relish.  

Ms. Witty says this relish will keep in the fridge for about 6 weeks but ours gets used up long before that.