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Saturday, November 23, 2013

More to Thanksgiving: Cranberries



I feel like so much of Thanksgiving is focused on the meal. We tend to forget the real reason for Thanksgiving. Most of us are no longer farmers and you can get just about anything you want to eat at any time of the year nowadays. I am going to take some time this week to look at things other than turkey and the pilgrims. Today's topic is still food, but it is one that is truly from Thanksgiving and Massachusetts. It is cranberries. We are going to look beyond using them for sauce (although I do love making a whole berry sauce each year).  Hazel and I started with a book called Cranberries by William Jaspersohn. Now Hazel loves cranberries or at least dried cranberries, cranberry sauce and cranberry baked goods. She is not completely fond of cranberry juice, but will drink one of the cran-other fruit juices, so I picked up this book for that reason. Also when I was researching one of my favorite topics--Native Americans, I found some neat decorations using cranberries.



The book talks about the white blooms of the cranberry plants and how they reminded the pilgrims of cranes. They named them "crane-berries" which has been shortened to cranberries. In August the cranberries are a waxy green and in September they begin to turn red. The book also goes through the two ways of picking the cranberries depending on what will happen with the cranberries. It then goes through the whole process of packaging them.



Now according to an article in Better Homes and Gardens (November 2013, page 172),  cranberries are loaded with nutrition from vitamin C to antioxidants and other health benefits. They quote one study showing that people who drank two glasses of low-sugar cranberry juice a day had significant drop in their blood pressure. They also can ward off urinary-tract infections, gum disease and stomach ulcers. 

We decided to make a few cranberry decorations. The first we found at Ocean Spray's website. They have many crafts there that use their cranberries. We decided to do a simple one with a paper plate. We used white glue to glue the cranberries on and I have to say, it is not holding well. I would use tacky glue instead.

The second thing we did was great for a centerpiece. I found the idea on Many Hoops. Many Hoops is wonderful resource for Thanksgiving. It is a website devoted to uniting America and getting past our horrible history. It is a project that was run by two women: one a descendent of the pilgrims and the other a Native American. This is the simple idea of using candles and cranberries. Their glass dish looks so much better than our dish.

Of course there is also the other favorite of stringing popcorn and cranberries for the Christmas tree. Another great idea was shared at Sharing Saturday by Little Bins for Little Hands called Fine Motor Skills with Cranberries. She has many wonderful tools to use with the cranberries. What a fun way to play and bring Thanksgiving to her child.

So go get healthy and have some cranberries and maybe try a few of the great decorations out there. I hope you will join us tomorrow for our final Native American Cinderella tale. This one is from the Zuni Tribe. If you missed the last ones there have been two weeks of four similar tales from various Native American tribes and you can find them here and here. Later this week we will look at Squanto as well as other Native American crafts and history as well.