Life lessons learned from Halloween:
My refined adult palatte has realized that Sixlets are slightly fruit flavored, and are not just sad, wannabe M&Ms. Reeses and Butterfingers are much better as an adult (I didn’t like peanut butter as a kid, I know, weird), nobody on my street is cool enough to give out Almond Joy or 100 Grand, and Dots are still as crappy as ever. And really, who the hell hands out peanuts? Fail, neighbor down the street, fail.
But most importantly? Pumpkin carving is way beyond a two-year old.
But all this dressing up nonsense is over, and guess what was in the store last week?
It is officially the holiday season, my friends.
I’ve seen recipes claiming that you can find frozen cranberries, but I have yet to see these anywhere, and trust me, I’ve looked. Dried cranberries are lovely, but are kind of like a sweet, wrinkled old granny. Lovely to know (and eat) now, but nothing like the sassy tart she was in her younger days. To me, fresh cranberries are the best kind of seasonal treat, and you better make the most of them while they’re around. (I’m the mom, so do what I say.)
My mom makes a lovely pear and cranberry pie which I hope to get to posting, and I’ve been dying to put them in a quickbread, but for the time being, we’ll start with the basics: cranberry sauce. For some reason, I’ve always been wary of back-of-the-box recipes. Apparently, the cranberry sauce recipe on the back of the Ocean Spray bag is some kind of wonderful, but I found my favorite version before this infomation found me. And why fix what ain’t broke?
Not surprisingly, the one I use comes from Ina Garten, as do most of the things I’ve been making for years. (The FoodNetwork influenced me more than a little in my early kitchen days.) Hers includes raisins and walnuts, which I actually omit simply because I don’t particularly care for raisins and I think the walnuts get soggy. The apple must be Granny Smith, as the high levels of pectin help set it thicker than the cranberries alone. (Pectin is what makes both the cranberries and that particular variety of apple so tart.) Mine looks especially thick in the picture simply because I simmered it for about twice as long as I should have. (Kids are distracting.) Either way, it’s lovely spooned on thick onto turkey and avocado sandwiches for lunch, and for breakfast it is fabulous stirred into some Greek yogurt and topped with the previously omitted walnuts. This afternoon it will be a light, gluten-free dessert spooned over vanilla ice cream and served to Tom’s Massachusettes grandparents. Cause if anyone knows their cranberries, it’s a Mass-hole. (Though Tom’s grandparents are emphatically very lovely people! :))
Cranberry Fruit Conserve
adapted from Ina Garten
1 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries, picked through for stems and sad, deflated berries (I’m lazy and didn’t do this–you should.)
1 3/4 cups of sugar
1 cup of water
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped
zest and juice of one lemon
zest and juice of one orange
3/4 cups raisins (optional)
3/4 cups toasted walnuts (the walnuts are optional, the toasting is not)
Throw the berries, sugar, and water into a pot over high heat until things get hot. Once bubbling, reduce to medium low and let simmer for about five minutes, or until you hear the skins start to burst open. Add the citrus and apple, and let bubble for about 15 minutes. Add the raisins and nuts if using, cool, chill, and serve. And that’s it, my friends.