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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Cranberry Obsession at the Rogues' Harbor Inn

The anticipation of crisp mornings and fall colors make me crave cranberries. I love cranberries- cranberry sauce, cranberry juice, cranberry bread, cranberry relish.... The list goes on and apparently the cranberry has been beloved in North America since long before the circa 1830's National Historic Landmark, Rogues' Harbor Inn was even an idea. Native Americans have been using cranberries in cooking and for dyeing fabric since at least the 1550's. Today there are over a million barrels of cranberries harvested each autumn.
The Cape Cod Cranberry Growers' Association, founded in 1888, is oldest farming association in the U.S. They have a great web site, www.cranberries.org, and the following brief history is theirs.

"The cranberry, along with the blueberry and Concord grape, is one of North America's three native fruits that are commercially grown. Cranberries were first used by Native Americans, who discovered the wild berry's versatility as a food, fabric dye and healing agent.
The name "cranberry" derives from the Pilgrim name for the fruit, "craneberry", so called because the small, pink blossoms that appear in the spring resemble the head and bill of a Sandhill crane. European settlers adopted the Native American uses for the fruit and found the berry a valuable bartering tool. American whalers and mariners carried cranberries on their voyages to prevent scurvy.
In 1816, Captain Henry Hall became the first to successfully cultivate cranberries.
He noticed that the wild cranberries in his bogs grew better when sand blew over them. Captain Hall began transplanting his cranberry vines, fencing them in, and spreading sand on them himself. When others heard of Hall's technique, it was quickly copied. Continuing throughout the 19th century, the number of growers increased steadily.
Normally, growers do not have to replant since an undamaged cranberry vine will survive indefinitely. Some vines in Massachusetts are more than 150 years old.
In addition to Massachusetts, the major growing areas for cranberries are New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, and in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Quebec. Additional regions with cranberry production include Delaware, Maine, Michigan, New York, Rhode Island, as well as the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Prince Edward Island. "

Growing up in and around New England I have had the privilege of sampling lots of cranberry recipes.
Our fall & winter dinner menu always boasts several cranberry inspired offerings and this fall is no different. Here's one of my favorites that we serve at the Inn for over night guests in the Bed & Breakfast for a little old fashioned New England flavor brought to the heart of the Finger Lakes.

Cranberry Orange Bread
makes one 9" or 10" loaf

3 cups flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup dried cranberries
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons orange zest
1/2 cup vegetable oil

In a large bowl mix the dry ingredients. Toss in the cranberries and stir them around till they are coated (keeps them from sinking in batter while baking)
In another bowl beat the egg, then add remaining ingredients. Combine this liquid mixture with the dry mixture, stirring just enough to moisten all ingredients.
Turn into a well greased 9" or 10" bread pan and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack. Cool completely before slicing.

Post Script- I've made some pretty amazing french toast with this bread....

Happy Fall from everyone at the Rogues' Harbor Inn, Ithaca, NY, Heart of the Finger Lakes