Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Thanksgiving: Simplified, Cranberry-Applesauce

I can recall a lot of stressful holidays growing up. The unattainable quest for the perfect holiday gathering ruled our household for the weeks before the date. It never made sense to me because the "guests" were our family and closest friends — the very people who should love you the most "as is."

Now that I am a grown up, well, supposed to be a grown up at least, and it's our house and our kitchen for the Big Meal, I do my best for a stress-free season. Note, this is not an "easy holiday meal" post to lure you in with false hope of whipping out dinner in minutes and having time for that hour massage at the spa before the guests arrive.

It's not going to be totally easy. That size of meal for twelve is going to take some effort. I just don't want you or I to stress about it or aim for some kind of unrealistic myth of holiday perfection. Tell your inner perfectionist to, uh, "stuff it" and just breathe. It will be okay.

Part of reducing the workload of holidays is making as much ahead as possible. Another bonus is this lets me use the local ingredients I sourced from the farmers market in October.

This Cranberry-Applesauce is a nice upgrade on the classic "cranberry sauce" that often appears on Thanksgiving tables in a wiggly, translucent can-shaped form that no one ever eats. How does it come of the can perfectly shaped like that, anyway?

You can make this recipe now, and freeze. Just take out of the freezer and put it in the fridge three days before Thanksgiving. Check to make sure it thawed the day before. One dish done and one less worry on the main cooking day.

8 Gala or Granny Smith Apples, cored, peeled and sliced thin
1 cup apple cider
1 pint fresh cranberries
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 tsp. cardamom
1/2 tsp. Five Spice Powder
pinch salt

Place the apples and cider in a large pot, cover and heat to a simmer to cook apples.

Put cranberries in a smaller saucepan with the brown sugar and honey. Heat on medium until the berries burst and give up their juice and the sauce begins to thicken. Add the cardamom and the five spice powder and mix.

Stir the apples to break them up into a chunky "home style" applesauce. Mix in the cranberry sauce. The end result is a lovely red color with a warm and subtle spice to it that goes well with many holiday dishes.

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