Is it really going to be Thanksgiving next week? Where did the time go?
Wasn't it just yesterday when the leaves turned colors? And then within a blink of an eye, most all of the beautiful autumn foliage fell to the ground. And now we are counting down the days towards when our nation gathers around the table for its biggest feast of the year.
Haverford College campus, Pennsylvania
When explaining Thanksgiving to our six-month old son, my husband noted that Thanksgiving is the holiday when everybody eats a big meal. I had to chuckle because the name itself -Thanks - Giving - should have prompted an answer that gave much deeper meaning to the day. I jumped in and clarified, "It's a day when we celebrate all that we have to be thankful for, the big meal included."
This year we will be gathering around the table with a heritage turkey that returned with the family from a recent trip to a Vermont farm. While the bird will undoubtably take center stage on the table, I am looking forward to the spread of side dishes: stuffing, cranberry sauce, walnut shaved brussels sprouts, and sweet potato cranberry hash.
How about you, are you a sides person? Or are you a turkey person?
Cranberry sauce has always been a personal favorite, especially if paired with oranges and spice. This whole cranberry sauce is a cinch to make and yields a rustic, vibrantly flavored relish warmed up by traditional sweet spices. It's so simple, it makes me wonder why I save this recipe for only this time of year. This sauce can be made three days ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator, although won't last that long around hungry people named Christine around.
Spicy Apple Orange Cranberry Sauce
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library Series, Thanksgiving & Christmas, by Chuck Williams (Time-Life Books, 1993).
- 1/2 orange
- 2 cups water
- 1 tart apple, such as Granny Smith, pippin or McIntosh
- 3 cups fresh cranberries
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
- Squeeze the juice from the orange and set the juice aside. Remove and discard the membrane from inside the orange rind and cut the rind into small dice. In a small saucepan over high heat, combine the rind and the water and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes, then drain and set aside.
- Peel, core and quarter the apple. Cut into 1/2-inch dice and place in a saucepan. Sort the cranberries, discarding any soft ones. Add to the apples along with the orange juice, orange rind, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan partially. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, the apple is tender and the cranberries have burst, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Transfer the cranberry sauce to a heatproof bowl and let cool for 1 hour before serving. Or cover and refrigerate; bring to room temperature before serving. Transfer the cranberry sauce to a sauceboat and pass at the table.
Makes 3 1/2 to 4 cups.