I’m taking Ana Bickel’s grandmother’s cranberry salad, except that OF COURSE I can’t do it the way I’m s’pos’ to.

Ana Bickel’s Grandmother’s Cranberry Salad

  • 1 small box cherry gelatin (Jell-o or off-brand)
  • 1 can jellied cranberries
  • 1 small can crushed pineapple

Mix 1 cup boiling water and gelatin until gelatin dissolves. Add jellied cranberry sauce and mix until sauce is dissolved. Add pineapples. Chill until firm.

Okay, now, I used orange gelatin. I left some undissolved bits of the jellied cranberries, because I thought it would be interesting. The last time I made this, it didn’t set up properly, and I suspect the pineapple juice, so this time I didn’t put in the whole can of pineapple. If I don’t forget, I’ll let you know how it turned out.

I’m also taking Cheese-Olive Balls. I got this recipe from Chef Joe Barkson of WorldWide Recipes (see Blogroll), the Best Darned Recipezine in the Whole Darned Universe. (It is, too!) That’s the one I write the Culinary Chronicles column for, but even I can’t drag it down.

This starts out with a basic cheese pastry (which recipe I’ve had
and used for over 30 years), and I’ll enumerate it as well as some
of the other treats which can be made from this simple pastry. I
usually use Cheddar because we prefer it, but it’s good made with
Swiss or Parmesan as well.

Basic Cheese Pastry

1 1/2 cups finely shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sweet butter
1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne, or to taste (optional)

Cream together cheese and butter; combine with flour and salt
(and cayenne) until it’s well blended and forms a ball. Use in any
of the following ways and serve warm or at room temp to adoring
friends and relatives.


Cheese Wafers: Form pastry into rolls 6 inches long and 2 inches in
diameter. Refrigerate several hours. With a sharp knife, slice rolls
thinly. Place slices on lightly greased baking sheets and bake at 400
for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned on the edges.

Cheese-Nut Wafers: Start out as above, centering each wafer with a
pecan half before baking.

Cheese-Olive Balls: Wrap 1-1 1/2 tsp pastry around stuffed green
olives (depending on size of olives), sealing well. Bake at 400 for
10-12 minutes.

Chicken-Cheese Tartlets: Substitute Swiss cheese for Cheddar;
roll pastry out as for pie shell and cut into 3-inch rounds with a
cookie or biscuit cutter. Fit pastry rounds gently into mini-muffin
tins; prick with fork. Bake at 425 until golden. Cool and remove
from tins carefully. Fill with chicken salad. Each filled tartlet
can be topped with a small green grape for an elegant presentation.

Cheese Straws/Twists: Roll dough of your choice out as above.
With a sharp knife, cut into pieces about 3 inches long and 1/2
inch wide. Place on sheets either flat or twist gently once or twice
and bake at 400 for about 8 minutes or until golden brown.

Cheese Puffs: Form pastry into 1-inch balls. If desired, roll each
in paprika, chili powder, cayenne, sesame seeds, caraway seeds,
finely chopped nuts, etc. Bake on cookie sheets at 400 until
puffed and golden, about 10 minutes. To vary this variation, form
pastry into 1/2-inch balls and lay them on the baking sheets in
clusters of three. Bake as above. These are interesting on St.
Patrick’s Day if you sprinkle the freshly-baked clusters with finely
chopped fresh parsley immediately upon removing them from the

Cheese-Date Balls: Fill pitted dates with almonds, pecans or
walnuts, cut or broken to fit as necessary. Wrap each stuffed
date with enough cheese pastry to cover completely, sealing well.
Bake on lightly greased sheets at 400 for 10-12 minutes.

I used a mix of mild cheddar and Italian mix cheeses, no cayenne. I love these things!

After the parties, we’re going to that place Dr. Seusse’s widow will sue me for mentioning without paying a royalty. I call it that because we end the service by standing around the church (inside, I’m happy to say), holding candles and singing. Silent Night, if you want to know. It’s lovely.


Writing prompt: What’s your character’s favorite Christmas song, sacred or secular?