how to store and eat: cranberries

how to store & eat cranberries | wit wisdom & food

Cranberries: Cranberries found their place on the Thanksgiving table and it is doesn’t look to be giving it up any time soon. Whether you like it jellied, whole, with orange or some other variation a little cranberry will make it to you plate on Thursday.

Grown on shrubs or vines. When the fruit is ripe the field is flooded and a machine loosens the berries that then float on the water. I want to wade through a bog of cranberries like the guys in the Ocean Spray commercials.

Season: fall

What to look for when you buy: firm, brightly colored fruit

How to store it:  toss them in the fridge for 3-4 weeks. Want cranberries all year round you can freeze the whole bag for 10-12 months.

How to prepare it: No prepping needed if you are cooking with cranberries.

My favorite way to use it: To string them between popcorn for christmas garland

Links to some great cranberries recipes:

Sparkling cranberries – These look beautiful but knowing cranberries are very tart I would hesitate to pop that in my mouth
Cranberry Buttermilk Breakfast cake – ‘Cause who doesn’t like cake for breakfast?
Butternut Squash Cranberry Bake – This sounds like a delicious option for our healthy fall dinners

accentuate the positive: I’m glad…

Accentuate the Positive2

Only a few days away from Thanksgiving seems like a good time to learn to play the glad game since you may already be playing without realizing it. You may remember the glad game from Pollyanna, a movie I hadn’t seen until recently because my dad subtlety talked me out of it at the video store when I was little.

We had a VCR early on, back when the store was divided between Betamax and VHS. We were VHS people, which has no relevance to this store expect to make me feel old. We used to go to the video store on Friday and pick out movies. One for me and my brother and one for my parents. I remember asking about Pollyanna and my dad mentioning I probably wouldn’t like that one. I never thought about getting it again as he must have seen it and knew it wasn’t good.

While living in San Francisco, Tom and I used to go to the Disney museum to watch old Disney films on the big screen. I wasn’t sure about seeing Pollyanna but Tom liked the actor Kevin Corcoran, he played the character Moochie in other Disney movies, so I went not expecting more than a fun day.  That is the thing about low expectations they aren’t hard to surpass.

I found I really liked the movie, was glad to finally get the reference “She is such a Pollyanna” and I learned how to play the glad game.

It is simple to play you just have to find something to be glad about in all situations. Pollyanna’s dad made up the game one Christmas while they were working as missionaries. Pollyanna was hoping for a doll but got crutches instead. To cheer her up and help her be grateful Pollyanna’s dad had her think of the good side, to be glad they didn’t need to use the crutches.

It is an exaggerated example, but  a lesson we can all stand to learn and game we all should play a little more often. Certainly, more often than just one day, one week or one month of the year.

Lately, at the beginning of November people start sharing what they are grateful for on social media creating a month of Thanksgiving. Sweet and certainly a great reminder, but what about the rest of the year? Do they, or you, practice the same mindfulness and gratefulness? If you do it probably isn’t as vocal or public and may have less of an impact on the people around you and your emotional health.

Vocalizing what you are grateful for and telling the people in your life that you are grateful for them has an instant impact on your mood and theirs. After watching Pollyanna I started playing the glad game more often. I played it just last week actually. When the weather dipped and it snowed I didn’t focus on what a bummer the weather was. I was glad I was getting to see my first snow storm in 16 years. I was glad I had a roof over my head and a fire in the fireplace. It made the extremely cold week a lot more fun and my mood never matched the grey skies.

I played it again when I had to go to work even though I would have rather stayed home and worked on the blog. I was glad I had a job and fun co-workers to hangout with.  I was also glad it was only for 8 hours not 10. It isn’t news that focusing on the positive can have a strong impact on your mood, but it is tough in practice for some reason.

I am challenging you to play the glad game not only this week but the rest of the year. With a month of practice you will have developed a positive new habit by the new year. Let’s get started now, leave a comment and tell me one thing you are glad about.

Think of your less than ideal situation and leave a comment below to tell what you are glad about instead.

Challenge others to play as well. 

movie night: Chef with Cubano sandwiches

dinner & a movie wit wisdom & food

 

I love movies. I especially love heart-warming movies that involve food in some way. When I originally decided to write about movies a couple of months ago it was because even the sweet heart-felt movies make me get all introspective, day-dreamy and planning for my future. Ok if we, and by we I mean me, are being honest I am in a constant state of introspection. Nothing passes by me without a thought of what went well, what could be better, how did I feel. Since we are being honest I have to tell you it gets a little exhausting. Good movies can make me forget that until the end of the movie.

I wanted to share the movies I love with everyone because when I learn something I always want to share it. Just more of me being helpful, hopefully not too helpful! Trying to start a group to discuss these topics turns out not to be my best platform or favorite thing to do. So I am falling back on what I know best, food and writing.

The revamped format is borrowing from the now defunct TBS show Dinner & a Movie. Appearing monthly on the third Friday at a blog near you, you will be treated to my thoughts on a movie and a tasty dinner idea to serve while you watch. I am not very punny so my food won’t be based on clever puns like the TV show, but on a meal or food served in the movie. This month’s feature is Chef. You can rent from amazon or purchase a copy .

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I have not stopped thinking about this movie since we saw it two months ago. It made me fall in love with the movie, the soundtrack and cooking again.

We had just moved to Indiana and I wanted to show off fun things to do in Indiana and what is more fun than a second run theater that only charges $1.75 for movies? While there might be more exciting thing there are few cheaper. I am not a huge fan of going to the theater because the noises other people make while I am trying to watch the movie are distracting and unnerving, but I had heard great things about Chef so it was worth the risk plus did I mention it was $1.75?

Carl Casper is a chef that has lost his voice and the reason he loved cooking. The movie takes you through his journey to reclaim that passion and shows how life kinda falls in place when your are passionate and doing what you love. From the opening scene I was in love. It is a sweet story about finding your passion and reconnecting with loved ones.

I was cheering for Carl the entire movie. Wanting the character to win in the end is a big selling point for me. If I don’t like the character I won’t enjoy the movie. I have turned movies off in the middle if I think the character has no value. I wanted to be friends with Carl. While he isn’t perfect he is lovable. Real or fictional there is just something amazing and inspiring about someone who follows their dreams and makes them happen.

Watching him find his passion again got me very excited to find my own passion.  I left the theater grateful for my life, excited to see what I will accomplish as I put my mind to making this blog a force to be reckoned with and an unrealistic desire to start a food truck and drive it across the country. I will be shelving that last one but the movie made it look so fun and gave me a serious desire for adventure and wanderlust. It also got me back in the kitchen. I have spent more time actually creating recipes than I ever had before and been reminded that it is my favorite way to relax.

A good movie soundtrack to me is one that can continue to conjure up all those emotions I had when I watched the movie. This one does not disappoint. I love listening to it while I am writing and working at the computer because it makes me feel upbeat, happy and gets the creative juices flowing. It also makes me dance in my chair. My favorite song is the cover of Sexual Healing which is also one of my favorite scenes in the movie.

It is a perfect date night movie filled with food and a heartwarming tale. The movie will make you hungry so you are going to want to make it dinner and a movie. Plus, what is movie without dinner? They just go together like peanut butter and jelly.

With a movie titled Chef you would expect that food plays a strong role in the film and you would be correct. Cuban cooking is a strongest focus and particularly the cubano sandwich which leads us to dinner.

A cubano is a sandwich that was created in the United States, most likely southern Florida, from a mixing of cultures. Cubanos are made on a thin bread that is lightly buttered and with one half that has mustard. The meat of the sandwich is roasted pork, ham, sliced pickles and swiss cheese. After assembled it is put on a press, similar to a panini press, and cooked until toasted and the cheese is melted.

Roasted pork isn’t an easy ingredient to find so making your own may be your best option. I made our pork the night before and we used the leftovers for the sandwiches. I used an old Bon Appetit recipe but think that next time I will use this easier pork tenderloin cubano recipe.

For the bread, look for thin soft bread. Baguette is not the best option but will work in a pinch. Something like ciabatta would be a good choice that you can find in most stores.

I didn’t have a press so I put my sandwich in a pan, heated a cast iron skillet separately and used the hot cast iron skillet as the top half of my press. You could use a brick wrapped in aluminum foil, heated in the oven, as the top half of your press too.

Have you had a cubano sandwich? Where did you get your best cubano?

Mine was from Sol Food in San Rafael, CA. Be sure to get a side order of mofongo, mashed plantains with garlic, if you go.

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