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Just when the grape and apple season comes to a close we can turn our thoughts to cranberries, yet another fresh local treasure. I love to go into Morning Glory Farm this time of year and ladle up big bags of the cranberries they sell from Carver. I use plenty and put lots in the freezer.
Core and dice apples. Wash cranberries in hot water. Put apples and cranberries in a 3-quart pot over medium heat. Add spices. Cook for ten minutes. Mash with a potato masher and continue cooking for another five minutes or so.
This year I am experimenting with cranberry vinegars and cranberry dressings. "The Hay Day Country Market Cookbook" has a good recipe for Cranberry Vinaigrette. It is a lovely pink color and adds spunk to a salad of fall greens. Kim Rizk, the author, claims it keeps for several weeks in the refrigerator and can also be used as a marinade for grilling turkey cutlets, boneless chicken breasts, or pork tenderloin. I have not tried this yet, but I plan to.
Place the cranberries, vinegar, garlic, shallots, and mustard in a food processor or blender and pulse several times to coarsely chop. Add the cranberry juice, walnut oil (I did not have this one time and successfully substituted olive oil for all the oil in the recipe), honey, and mint, and blend until thin and smooth.
My absolutely favorite cranberry dish is Cranberry Walnut Pie. It is easy to make and utterly delicious. The first time I had it was in a bed and breakfast in Duluth, Iowa, in 1998. The pie is filling, but believe it or not that day it was the first course of a 5-course breakfast. I still have the recipe written out on a grey guest registration card. I was surprised to have what I thought was a local delicacy in Iowa. I was embarrassed to be so provincial when I learned that Wisconsin right across the Mississippi is the leading producer of cranberries in the United States. Massachusetts takes second place.
Cranberry Walnut Pie
Set the oven to 325 degrees.
I keep a manila file full of favorite things to make and things I hope I'll make. I tend to collect ones for local produce and there are many for cranberries. This year I have my eye on a cranberry bread pudding from the Gardner Museum in Boston. I've had it there and I know how good it is. There's also a cranberry, sausage, and pecan stuffing that I tore out of the November 2000 Gourmet that sounds yummy. Maybe this year I'll finally make it.
Laura Wainwright is a contributing writer to The Times.