Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Pear Cranberry Vinaigrette

Because of our anniversary party, I allowed my holiday preparations to slide. Horribly. Yesterday I decided that, no matter what the cost to my sanity, I would complete all of my gift purchases today. I was not looking forward to this, as I am not normally a "shopper". Last year I did most of my shopping online, but this year I waited too long.

Today was a complete surprise. The traffic was horrible. The weather was rainy, then snowy, then a mixture of freezing rain and snow. The stores, for the most part, were crowded and way too warm. But, quite unexpectedly, my day was made almost enjoyable by several very nice salespeople.

The woman at the jewelry counter who assisted me in choosing a gift for my Dad to give my Mom, then gave me a 20% off coupon as I checked out. A $190 heart-shaped pendant, after the sale discount, a "one day only" discount, and that 20%, cost $60. :)

The young man who checked me out in Circuit City who, when he asked if I found everything I wanted and I replied that, no, I would have to drive 20 miles to pick up an item which they were out of, called his manager over. They figured out that an assistant manager, who lived near that store, could stop by on his way into work tomorrow and pick it up. Jack will drive a much closer distance and get it tomorrow.

I was checking out in Wal Mart and the cashier had trouble scanning some metal cookie trays. The wrong price came up, had to be cancelled, then it happened again... I must have looked a bit frazzled (it was the last stop after almost 7 hours of shopping) so she gave me the tray for free. Yes, $1.50 is not a big deal but it was nice of her.

A woman who was working the floor in Target went out of her way to look for an item which was supposed to be on sale, but the display was empty. She didn't find any in the back, so she went up to the front of the store and there was a raincheck waiting for me at customer service after I checked out.

It's absolutely heartwarming how the kindness of strangers, and those strangers who were working in retail a week before Christmas, made such a difference in my day. And I thank them all.

Okay, now a recipe. There is no photo, but it's not difficult to imagine how pretty a dark-pink, creamy vinaigrette will look in a decorative cruet on your holiday table.

I found this recipe years ago in Jane Brody's Good Food Gourmet book. It originally called for raspberry vinegar, but I found that planning to make cranberry vinegar a few days in advance is worth the extra time.

Of course, since two cups of this salad dressing contain only 1/4 cup of oil, it is a healthy alternative to heavy salad dressings, and a welcome addition to a normally calorie-laden dinner menu...

* Exported from MasterCook *

Pear-Cranberry Vinaigrette

Recipe Adapted From: Jane Brody
Servings: 16

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup cranberries -- fresh or frozen
10 ounces pear -- very ripe, about 2 medium
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup cashews, dry-roasted -- unsalted
1/2 cup walnut oil -- can substitute canola oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

In a small saucepan, heat the vinegar to simmering. Add the berries and, over medium heat, bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Turn the heat tovery low, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes (stir occasionally). Remove from heat, cool, and pour into a clean glass container. Cover and set at a cool room temperature for 2-5 days. Strain before using.

Peel, core, and dice the pears. Place in a food processor or blender. Add 1/3 cup of the cranberry vinegar and remaining ingredients. Process until smooth. Adjust seasonings.

Keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

"2 cups"

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Per serving: 85 Calories (kcal); 8g Total Fat (1g saturated); (80% calories from fat); trace Protein; 4g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 12mg Sodium
Food Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates