Once upon a time, there was a Canadian foodie who thought, “All I want to do is eat, and when I can eat, I am so happy, therefore I just want to thank everyone and everything.” And so thanksgiving was born.
The thanksgiving weekend has got to be one of the greatest food holidays, only slightly short of Christmas (Christmas also gets a fantastic breakfast, sooo…). Students flock home or to friends houses, families pull together, and pants get stretched. Butter and cream come out to play with sage and potatoes, and everyone turns into a true food hedonist for a night. I can’t get over how much I love it. This year it has come to happen that it is “my day” as my mom has fallen under the weather for a bit and my dad has been working on fixing up a house to sell with a buddy of his. This leaves me in the kitchen, with 15 pounds of turkey, a gratin, cranberry sauce, brussel sprouts, gravy, pumpkin pies, and tiramisu no-bake cheesecake (http://guiltykitchen.com/). As soon as I got home from uni on Saturday, I started chopping. When that got old, I started to bake. As that wrapped up, I moved to simmering, salting, and stuffing. It is now Sunday, and I have just gotten home from a hike with a fantastic smelling kitchen and everything ready to go in the oven at their specific time. Prepping the day before: sooooo nice. I thought I’d post some of the bits of turkey dinner I did in advance, then after I munch down on the rest of the meal, tell you how the rest of it turned out. Maybe it’ll be so good, everyone will start trusting their turkey dinners to 18 year olds…
Okay, first thanksgiving item to come together: cranberry sauce. I know that the canned variety is oh so popular, what with its unique ability to mimic its container perfectly, which creates endless hours of entertainment for children (rules are, you jiggle it as hard as you can without it losing its shape). As far as taste goes, though, I am partial to a homemade cranberry sauce. I mean, it is SO easy I don’t see why not! Stir some stuff together in a pot, forget about it, and voila, cranberry sauce that turns haters into lovers. I have always started with frozen cranberries for mine, mostly because the fresh cranberries I find at the local grocer are a little questionable, and you can get some lovely local ones in the freezer section. A little ginger and crushed red peppers add some warmth and depth to the cranberries, but if you want a pure, plain cranberry sauce, just leave those guys out. Another thing you may want to try is if you like orange zest in your cranberry sauce, I would stir that in about halfway through the cooking. I didn’t have any on hand, but that is a lovely variation.
Holiday Cranberry Sauce
The warmth in this sauce makes it absolutely dynamite. It always catches me a little bit off guard, which sends me diving in for another spoonful.
300 g cranberries (frozen)
1 ½ c sugar
1 ½ c boiling water
1/2 -1 tsp cinnamon
½- 2 tsp ground ginger
1/8-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1) Combine cranberries and boiling water in a small pot on the stove. Bring up to a boil. When just boiling, stir in the sugar. Bring back up to heat, then reduce to a simmer. Add the lesser amount of each spice (ex. ½ tsp cinnamon instead of the 1tsp etc).
2) Let simmer on the stove for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remember that it will firm up quite a bit when it cools, so cook it until the cranberries have broken down and the mixture is thick. I like mine pretty jelly-like, so I normally let it simmer away for closer to 45 minutes.
3) When you’ve reached your desired consistency, taste the jelly. If you find it too tart, add a little more sugar and keep it on the heat for a while longer to let it dissolve. If you want to taste a little more of any of the spices, increase to the greatest amount that I have listed, and re-taste. Feel free to add more, but be careful with that red pepper flakes!
4) Chill in the fridge overnight, and take out about an hour before you plan on serving it if you want to have it at room temperature.
5) Enjoy not just on turkey! Add to yogurt with a bit of orange zest, spread onto sandwiches, and dress up a lemon loaf.