Two weekends ago we went to Costco, where I found cranberries in the cold produce section! Growing up, I never actually ate actual cranberries, and I distinctly remember hating cranberry juice as a child. Because my mom is Thai, we never ate traditional Thanksgiving or Christmas foods (I remember one Thanksgiving we ate takeout Taco Bell!) until I was in high school, when my best friend’s family would have us over. Even then we rarely had the traditional fare – on Christmas Eve my friend’s mom would make the most amazing gumbo, and the next day we would visit my grandparents’ friends in Wichita, Kansas to eat chili for a late lunch/early dinner.
Now, living in Japan, I suffer from what my friend Katie calls “3-year-old syndrome” – now that I can’t have certain foods (or they’re expensive and/or not readily available) I want them! I never particularly liked cranberries – in fact, I’d never seen one that wasn’t dried or jellied – but, when I saw them at Costco, I knew at once: those bastards were mine.
So, of course, buying cranberries for the first time, I was faced with the dilemma: what do I do with them?
Of course, overambitious, not-at-all-a-baker me, I decided to bake.
So despite knowing cranberries floated, I had no idea that they were hollow! And so bitter – I guess cranberries are like hazelnuts: no real taste on its own, but cooked and marketed in a way that people want to buy them.
(Also, I looked up how cranberries are grown – it’s really cool! Cranberries are grown in a bog on long trailing vines starting in spring, and once October rolls around, the bog is flooded, a harvester drives through, and the berries separate from the vines and float to the surface! I found this picture of a New Jersey harvest on wikipedia:)
Though I love cooking at home, I’m not the best baker in the family – that award goes to Paul and his side of the family! I learned early on from Paul that the order of adding ingredients is very important, and of course, while making this bread, I made a mistake! I fought the dough for like fifteen minutes before thinking to check if I’d done something wrong, and, lo and behold, I’d forgotten to add eggs.
But despite all that, the loaves turned out all right, and I chopped off the lumpy tops and made some icing from leftover cream cheese, butter, sugar, and grated orange rind.
I’m pretty proud – this is the first bread I’ve made from scratch!