Monday, November 14, 2016

Thanksgiving Dinner at Coho 2016

For some people, eating the Thanksgiving dinner is the best part of their Thanksgiving Day. For me, my greatest pleasure is cooking it. I often stop to inhale the changing scent of how our home smells. Today I was struck by the bracing scent of fresh, green cardamom pods, as I ground them with a mortar and pestle.

… cardamom spice and the pungent
zest of once 'neath a midnight legend
            From Chambord Recollections.

This year, as we usually do, Andreas, Vanessa & I will be celebrating Thanksgiving with our friends at Roberts Creek Cohousing. Everyone contributes to this dinner: food, table set-ups, decorating, and cleanup – whatever is needed. It all works. This year, I have signed up for cranberry sauce, and as I often do, I have made two versions.

This year, before starting cooking, I decided that I should do a bit of research. I had two different vintages on hand: one that I would choose for cooking, and one for drinking later. The next picture reveals my choice.

My friend Stacia taught me the importance of mis en place – essentially it means that I lay everything out before I start cooking.
THE RECIPE: Cranberry Sauce with Dried Apricots, Port Wine and Cardamom.
This makes about 4 ½ cups, and can be made 1 week ahead, if refrigerated.
To do
8 whole green cardamom pods
Coarsely crush cardamom in mortar with pestle or place in re-seal-able plastic bag and crush with rolling pin; discard skins.
3 cups Port Wine*
Bring next 5 ingredients and cardamom to boil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.
1 cup sugar
1 cup apricot preserves
1 cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup honey
2 6-ounce package dried apricots, chopped
Add apricots; cook 2 minutes.
3 - 12-ounce bag cranberries or 2 600g bags
Add cranberries and cook until berries pop, stirring occasionally, about 9 minutes.
1 grated lemon peel from one lemon
Mix in lemon peel. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

My second version of cranberry sauce is often preferred by children (and my husband). Also, since it does not use honey, it is vegan-friendly. It is a dead-simple sauce to prepare.

3 bags fresh cranberries
NOTE: This year they are 340g aka 12 oz each.
3 oranges
First, zest the oranges, then juice them. I use this juice instead of water.
1 ½ c sugar
NOTE: The recipe used by many people doubles the amount of sugar. I like mine tart so that the flavour of the cranberries is not masked by the sweetness. To each, their own.
Combine all three ingredients in a heavy pot, and bring to a boil. Stir often enough that it does not stick to the bottom. Then reduce to a gentle boil and cook for about ten minutes. Keep stirring occasionally.

A few years ago, I developed a novel use for cranberry sauce. Some of my friends decided to call it:  The Full Oddie. Later today, I am planning to see if it is as good a Martini as we all remembered it to be. After all, it is Thanksgiving. Or, almost.

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