Our Thanksgiving table in Underwood, like many, reflected the colors of the season.
The gathering of browns, yellows, oranges, greens and reds to celebrate this holiday on the fourth Thursday of November with a feast of foods harvested in the fall, has always been a real favorite.
As I have mentioned many times, we eat with our eyes first. There is no other season that allows so many warm and inviting colors to be brought to the table in the form of food than Thanksgiving.
Charles Repnow is a freelance writer who lives in Rugby. His column appears alternate Wednesdays in The Minot Daily News.
We have the tones of brown within our turkey and breads; yellows come in the corn, squash and the butter; and red makes its appearance in native North American cranberries.
It is, however, the orange that has been my personal favorite for years. It often appears in pumpkins used for the meal or for decorations. But my favorite appearance of orange on the Thanksgiving table is in orange fruit.
There is no better time to be garnish-savvy than at Thanksgiving, and one of your best friends for this is oranges. I will admit those orange candles we purchased each fall at Evander's Drug Store in the shape of Christopher Columbus's ships - the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria - added a nice touch of orange to the table setting. However, they were not edible. There was also the pressing decision should we light the candles or should we be good Norwegians and merely use them as a centerpiece? With five boys in the house, they were always touched with a match. Since the taper candle stood above each ship, only half the candle was burned. Our hall closet at one time moored more ships than the Boston Harbor.
Using oranges as a garnish will put you in a very good light this holiday season -- after all, being green is so cool. As your friends and loved ones are drawn together for the fine Thanksgiving meal and exchange emotions that again occur as they see Grandma's china, don't be surprised if the impulse strikes them to give you an extra hug. They knew you would make an effort to bring memories of the past by using the family china -- and even using many family recipes.
It is, however, the concept of the innocent slices of fresh oranges placed around the serving trays that makes them smile.
Setting an attractive table with orange garnishes that are universally recognized for their important contributions toward buoyant health will assure that you have just made a big time score. There will be several aunts and uncles that realize you are concerned about giving them a valuable source of minerals, particularly calcium, phosphorus and a small, yet useful amount of iron. If you have had your eye on Aunt Hilda's matching red metal lawn chairs, consider them yours. You can bet after she nibbles on one of these attractive garnishes she will also toss in her Victorian birdbath.
There are just few simple things we should consider when preparing oranges for the table use.
First of all, it is important to wash oranges extremely well before using. To peel oranges for salads and desserts, use a sharp, stainless knife. Remove all outer peel and membrane -- cut right down to the juicy sections. This also allows the flavor of the orange to bloom. For grating, use a grater with holes about 1/8 inch in diameter, and about 1/4 inch apart. A modern, micro-grater would also work well. When grating the outer, orange-colored layer of the orange, which contains the oils that give flavor, the resulting grated peel is in the form of fluffy, orange flakes. This full flavor is preferred over commercially prepared extracts when you want your cakes, pies, breads, desserts, frosting, fillings and sauces to be outstanding.
I could go on about the beauty of oranges for garnish and also for nutritional value. Did you know that fluted orange cups are an automatic in to most people's last will and testament?
But that will have to be another column. We have many reasons to be thankful -- not only for lovely oranges and candles that can glow, but for a city that has been touched by so many helping and caring hands as it recovers from the 2011 flood. For the many servicemen and women who keep our freedom by their noble efforts in the military, for our work and play, for a land that enjoys prosperity, for freedom of religion, and for friends and families, let us be grateful this Thanksgiving Day.
Orange Frosted Grape Salad
This is an attractive salad which features one of the great tones of autumn -- orange. It can be served with a lemon mayonnaise which adds a satisfying depth. Far too often we skip making a gelatin salad, and thus this gem of color and the grandness of the molded tower are missed by eyes young and old. Very few children can resist the dome or steeple of a colored gelatin mold. It not only gives them a great visual at the table, but often children also enjoy the taste. Who knows - they may offer to make the next one.
1 tablespoon gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
1/2 cup orange juice heated
3/4 cup orange juice, unheated
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup orange pieces
1/4 cup seedless grapes
1/2 cup sliced peaches
Soften gelatin in water 5 minutes. Dissolve in the heated orange juice. Cool. Add the unheated orange juice, lemon juice and sugar. Chill. When slightly thickened add orange pieces, grapes and sliced peaches. Pour into individual molds or one large mold; chill until firm.
Unmold in the center of a salad plate and garnish with orange sections in a petal pattern with cluster of 8 frosted grapes placed at 10, 2, 4 and 8 positions. If you have the option of selecting a very colorful plate - such as a deep blue or yellow - your table is going to truly pop!
These can be made ahead of time, thus allowing for ease of serving. This recipe serves 6.
1 egg or 2 egg yolks
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon honey
Dash of paprika
2 cups salad oil
Beat the egg or egg yolks, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and seasonings thoroughly. Add the salad oil very SLOWLY until mixture begins to get very thick: then add remaining lemon juice. Gradually beat in the rest of the oil and continue beating until well combined.