cranapple dessert

Like many of you, I’ve been rushing around trying to prepare for the holidays. Things have been so hectic, I completely forgot to mark the anniversary of my blog. Would you believe I’ve been posting to this site for three years? Honestly, where does the time go?

Of course, it’s only appropriate that this Thanksgiving I take a moment to thank you for stopping by regularly, for sharing your thoughts and comments and for giving me the motivation to keep this blog up and running. I’m thankful for your friendship.

cat in doorway
laundry collage
wood shed

This seems like a perfect time to post the photos that I took during my last visit to the Coggeshall Farm Museum. If you haven’t yet visited, Coggeshall Farm is a beautiful 48- acre property in Bristol, Rhode Island. It’s a living history museum that allows you to see what life was like on a New England farm back in 1799.

The people who run the farm make it incredibly inviting. You can explore the grounds at your leisure and observe events and ask questions as you go along. I realize that this may sound odd but they have the “nicest” farm animals I’ve ever met. They’re incredibly calm and gentle. Seriously, how many turkeys allow you get this up-close and personal?

turkey profile
barn fence
herding sheep

I also completely fell in love with the farm house. There’s something about the patina of old paint and a room full of antiques that feels warm and inviting. I can only imagine how cold it was during the winter of 1799, but the house is definitely charming and romantic today.

brown jug
onion collage

Needless to say, it’s the perfect place to snack on the Cranberry-Apple Pecan Bars I made this week. Not only is this dessert perfect for Thanksgiving, it’s one of those desserts that tastes incredible right out of the oven. They taste like heaven, really.

bowl of dessert
hanging clothes
bringing in the squash

squash collage
prep table
hearth collage

I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual … Oh, how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.

– Henry David Thoreau

farm bedroom
coat and shoe collage

plated dessert
in the window

I recently took a ride down to A.D. MakePeace in Wareham, MA to stock up on local cranberries for the winter. You may not be aware of this, but cranberries grow on little shrubs in sandy soil. From September through November, the beds (or bogs, as they’re called) are flooded with water. Like magic, the cranberries rise to the top and then a harvester scoops them up for delivery to your store.

Did you know you can tell if a cranberry is fresh by bouncing it on your countertop? Fresh cranberries bounce.

cranberry collage
floating cranberries

In honor of this holiday season, the anniversary of this blog and you, I’m giving away some wonderful New England cranberry treats. If you want to know what truly fresh cranberry snacks taste like, you’ll love this giveaway.

Specifically, I’m giving away a bag of the best, local sweetened, dried cranberries I’ve ever tasted, plus a bag of chocolate covered cranberries, plus a delicious jar of cranberry vanilla jam. Everything is from locally made. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Here’s how you can enter to win:

  • Leave a comment on this post before midnight on Friday December 7, 2012
  • Make sure your comment links directly to a site where you can be contacted. Otherwise include a Twitter or email address in your comment. Only comments that include this information are eligible to win.
  • One entry per person.
  • The winner will be selected at random and contacted on Saturday December 8, 2012 before noon (EST).
  • Be sure to check your inbox and messages. If no response is received by Monday December 10, 2012 at noon (EST), another winner will be selected.
  • This giveaway will ship anywhere in the world.

Don’t forget to Tweet about @freshnewengland too! Every tweet about this post is an additional chance to win.


Cranberry-Apple Pecan Bars

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C)


16 tbs (125 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 c (100 g) sugar
1 tsp (3 g) vanilla extract
2 c (265 g) all-purpose flour

In a bowl  of a stand mixture fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter. Add the sugar and mix until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla. Mix in the flour until just blended. using your hands, press the dough into the base and 3/4 of the way up the sides of a 6X6” square pan. Chill for 20 minutes.

Cranberry filling

3/4 c (125 g) fresh cranberries
1/2 c (80 g) sugar
1/8 c water

In a small saucepan, bring ingredients to boil then simmer until cranberries pop and mixture begins to thicken, about 5 minutes.

Apple filling

5 medium apples, peeled and sliced
6 tbs (95 g) butter, diced
1/2 c (80 g) dark brown sugar
1/4 c (30 g) powdered sugar

Toss ingredients together. Set aside.


1 c (100 g) pecans, lightly toasted
2/3 c (90 g) all-purpose flour
2/3 c (65 g) oatmeal flakes
9 tbs. (100 g) unsalted butter
2 tsp (6 g) cinnamon
2 tbs. (20 g) brown sugar

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until crumbly.

To make the bars

Remove the crust from the refrigerator. Using an offset spatula, spread the cranberry filling over the base of the crust.

Layer the apples over the cranberry mixture so they overlap. Make sure the apples rest on top of the cranberry mixture.

Sprinkle the topping over the apples until the entire square is covered in crumble.

Using the base of a wooden spoon, push the sides of the crust down to meet the top of the crumble. The crust and the crumble should be even.

Bake for 25-35 minutes, depending upon your oven. You’ll know it’s done, when the top gets brown and bubbly.

Bon appétit!

Fresh New England

Get inspired to love & support local food. We have some great ideas sprouting up so browse our site for more delicious finds.

  1. El, congratulations on your 3 years of blogging! You work is beautiful and always inspiring.
    My 3 year bloganniversary is these days too, I can’t believe we started blogging at the exact same time.

    Your photographs are stunning and so is that recipe. I only discovered fresh cranberries when I moved to Holland, they’re so rare in Greece. I haven’t dried good dried ones.

  2. Oh El, congratulations!!! 🙂 Three years is amazing. 🙂 I love these pictures. Living history museums are one of my favorite museums to visit. I can get lost there quite happily. 🙂 What a beautiful giveaway. Did you know it’s almost impossible to find cranberries in Australia? I miss them more than I can say. 🙂 A friend of mine runs a health food store and is going to get some frozen ones in for me. I’m SO excited. 🙂 XO

  3. Happy anniversary, El! I consider myself so lucky that somehow I found your gorgeous blog. Enriches me each and every time I come and visit your new posts.

    Love the images from the farm museum, they are exquisite! My favorite is the one of the flooded cranberry bog, such richness of color, so uplifting!

    Would you believe it that I made cranberry sauce today, my favorite, really simply one: let sugar caramelise, add half the cranberries with star anise, cinnamon stick, cloves, orange peel, let the berries pop, add a bit of orange juice and the rest of the cranberries. Boil until they start to pop. At the very end, a bit of maple sirup, just to get a taste of it.

    There I was, reflecting before using all those precious fresh cranberries (they actually come from New England!) , whether I should use all I got or save some for some other treat. And in the pot they went, all of them! I hope my grocery store gets a fresh shipment, so I can make your cranberry bars!

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours,

    Thanks for publishing your recipes in grams. After a few years of obsessive food blog trawling I’m pretty good at converting American measurements to metric but it’s nice not to have to. Cranberries look fab, they’ve just started selling dried Cranberries in supermarkets in Australia but I’m sure there not as good the New England dried berries.

  5. wow the pics are so serene and full of life. BTW happy blog anniversary and wishes for many many more. The bars are a delightful way to celebrate fresh beginning and joyous present. CHeers. Lovely giveaway too. count me in

  6. El, congratulations on the anniversary. We don’t have thanksgiving here in Australia, but Christmas is not far away now. Everyone I know is in awe of how quickly this year has passed!

    Your beautiful photographs have transported me to this museum, it looks inviting indeed. The colours in that image with the water are striking.

    Love the recipe too… happy baking.

  7. I’m living in the wrong state! I would so love to live in a place with all of these historical wonders all around me. I had no idea where cranberries come from – thanks for educating me. And I LOVE these bars – I am going to put these on my gift giving list!

  8. Good for you for getting close to those turkeys – I don’t know if I would have had the nerve! Of course, that’s because I wouldn’t have expected them to be nice, as you described.

    Delicious-sounding (and looking) bars, mmm. I’ve eaten many small cranberries before, on mountain slopes while hiking. But I’ve never visited a true cranberry bog – I bet it is a sight to see!

  9. I love tasting local products and new flavours!Through your pictures I imagine myself picking my own cranberries. Cranberry jam? A new challenging flavour for me…

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  11. My husband and I are planning a trip to New England next year. I’m thrilled that you shared the farm pictures with us. Looks like a place I would not have found otherwise and now can’t wait to visit. Thank you! Brilliant post.

  12. Your photographs look amazing as do the Bars, definitely on my short list of things to make. As I have aged my taste buds have changed dramatically and I really enjoy the tartness of cranberries. I went through a long period as a child really missing out on a lot of different tastes and textures. But I can say that I’ve made it, more than what my brother and even father can!

  13. Happy Anniversary! Gorgeous, El! I have never seen the flower on the outside of the berry! I have never seen them grow! Lovely give-a-way. Of course, I would rather have the bowl in your first photo! Great place to visit for the season. YOu really captured this time of year. I seem to recall a trip there last year, too. When We were in MA, we went to Plymouth Rock and The Plantation nearby. It was absolutely pouring and we were the only family walking through the villages… POURING. When would we ever be back? It is still unforgettable.

  14. Oh my! I’m charmed! Your post has brought a smile this rainy morning! A perfect tribute to your blog anniversary, the traditions and history of New England,Thanksgiving week and cranberries!
    Perfect in every way!

  15. Beautiful post, full of fresh emotions and gorgeous photos. Congratulations on your third anniversary, you’re right, it is incredible how fast the time flies!
    Inviting bars, so difficult to find cranberries here in Italy!

  16. Happy Bloganniversary! Gorgeous photos of the farm – I adore the ones of the sheep and turkeys! I have wanted to make a trip back that way during cranberry harvest, for some time now, but it never works out. I have a romantic food fantasy of participating with the harvest … love it!!

    Happy Anniversary and a wonderful Thanksgiving!!! xo

  17. I can’t get over how pretty this is. I’d love to visit that farm. Thanks for the giveaway too!

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