New ways to relish the berries of fall.

New ways to relish the berries of fall.

For months, it's been sheets in the washer, dishes in the sink and lavish breakfast buffets, too-eggs, bacon, waffles, you name it. You see, we've had a steady stream of company since we moved to rural Connecticut from Manhattan. Our friends, left behind in small apartments, have discovered we have a spare bedroom and seem to settle in almost as comfortably as the neighborhood bear, who likes to bunk down in our driveway.

Until recently, we'd find the bear there about midafternoon, just as the light started to angle through the maple and birch boughs. One friend gawked out the window at that big black mass in the driveway and said, "But we can still go antiquing, right?" No, we have to hunker down and wait. "Oh," he said, "like when the doorman in my building is away at lunch and I'm waiting for my mail." Yeah, except only rarely can the doorman maul you.

But all this drama subsides on Monday mornings and the house quiets back down. The bear? Gone for the winter now. And no breakfast buffets for bleary-eyed city-dwellers. Our morning routine falls back into place: a cup of coffee and a simple two-serving breakfast. We're alone with the morning paper, ready to eat healthy again and then take on the morning's tasks.

It's chilly most mornings now, the doors closed tight but the light brighter somehow, wintry and clean. The holidays are on their way with all the trimmings-including the one fruit you can count on as winter sets in: cranberries. They're grown across our part of New England and most of the northern United States, particularly in Wisconsin, all places with plenty of water. At harvest, most bogs are flooded and the cranberries float off the low-growing, woody vines to rise to the top of the water where they're corralled and scooped up.

Recently, researchers at the University of Wisconsin showed that flavonoid compounds in cranberries may help arteries remain healthfully elastic and stave off un-necessary clotting. One too many breakfasts with company and we're certainly in need of something that promotes good arterial health.

What's more, cranberries can keep your urinary tract healthy; they may also inhibit dental plaque and prevent some stomach ulcers (many caused by overnight houseguests).

With their tart flavor and all those health benefits, it's no wonder we want to wake up to cranberry muesli that's soaked overnight with yogurt, as it's made in Switzerland, or to these delicious whole-grain pancakes, studded with fresh cranberries.

-Bruce Weinstein & Mark Scarbrough