Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving Part Two: Cranberry, Clementine Crystallized-Ginger Relish

Relishing the season 

Below you will find the recipe for this tart, yet sweet Cranberry Relish. First, of course, I have shared some Thanksgiving memories and thoughts. Also given a few tips on the brining process for the Turkey. 

Family, Food and Travel

Thanksgiving! Does it amaze anyone else that the end of November crept up so quickly? And we all know that from now until January 1st will zip by more quickly than you can bat an eye. This year will be my fourth Thanksgiving spent with family, after many years of absence from the Thanksgiving table, while I was on a quest to experience the world. Thanksgiving has created many memories. 

Growing up in Anson, in the early primary years, our small elementary school classes would have a Thanksgiving feast each year. We each brought in a dish to share, and I think would even dress up like a Pilgrim or an "Indian". In Maine, community Thanksgiving feast, meant moose venison stew and Indian pudding.  I remember the excitement of getting to leave school early for the 5 hour drive to my grandparents house in South Windsor, Connecticut. We would have a very traditional Thanksgiving. I remember how the food would get packed up so quickly, there was no chance for picking or evening grazing. Sometimes on the weekends we would head into Manhattan to visit my other Grandmother. This was even more exciting. The hustle, bustle and stimulation of New York was my favorite thing in the world. I loved visiting 6th and 5th avenue and seeing all the Christmas window scenes with my Jewish Grandma at Macy's and the other stores. New York City was my favorite place on earth. I think that is where my love of different foods began. 
This evening's beautiful sunset

When I got older, and my Dad's parents had passed, my aunt took over Thanksgiving in Vermont. Her husband was an archeologist, which of course, I wanted to be. His artifacts were so fascinating to me. In my teen  years, I kind of stopped participating in Thanksgiving for a couple years. The year of my 17th Birthday, which must have been my senior year, my friend Mary and I took a bus to the city. What a luxury staying at my Grandmother's West Village apartment, alone. We spent the morning working in a Shelter, handing out meals to the homeless. An old Vietnam Vet, who was very charmed by me, or perhaps me by him, still sticks in my mind to this day. The rest of the afternoon was not what you might expect from two 17 year old girls alone in New York City. We didn't spend the evening trying to sneak into bars or buying alcohol, but instead made a box of Stovetop Stuffing, opened a can of Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce and both fell asleep on the couch watching TV. And here we are, fast forward about 15 years and  I'm the one who has found the love in exploring new recipes, and taking on the turkey. 

Giving Thanks

There are days when I feel heavy and weighted with all the tasks and responsibilities that I must carry out. It can seem so overwhelming, and some of them can seem and can be downright defeating. Sometimes it feels like I am just treading water, in this whirlpool of things swirling around me. It could be easy to get caught in that trap, of self pity, resentment, self doubt. But when I let myself slow down, and really look at what I have in my life, and the fact that I keep afloat, with a positive attitude and keep pushing forward, I remember how much I have to be thankful for.  I know each of our own experience is relative, but when I listen to the news, hear personal stories from friends and colleagues, or family situations of the children I work with, there is no room to let those heavy things pull me down.

So take some time to slow down, amidst the rush of the holiday season. The travel, shopping, cooking, preparing the house for guests. Stop for a minute, reflect on those memories you have of your Nana who passed on the trinket you are dusting. Wake up early and go to your favorite spot to watch a sunrise. Enjoy the soft pastel hues that awaken the earth, or the vibrant pinks and reds that tell you the weather is changing. Inhale the earthy smell of the decomposing leaves, that will feed mother earth, the same way she fed them. Tell someone how much you appreciate them and why. Thank yourself, for providing a loving, safe home for your children; putting in that extra time and work at your job; studying hard to get that grade that might have seemed out of reach; the work you do in your community; making someone laugh or smile. Create your own list of thanks. Its really something we should do on a weekly if not daily basis, slow down, breath deeply and give gratitude. 

Update on the Turkey and Brine Recipes 

I've made some tweaks to the Turkey blog. I've added some more tasty ingredients to the brine. I was off to such a good start today. Picked up the whopping 17.75 pounder at Rosemont, got the last of my herbs and sundries at Whole Foods, and had this beautiful fragrant brine. I poured into the bag, no problem there. But then the OCD me, tried to clean out some of the spilled liquid from the cooler, and holding the brine bag, brine, turkey and all, KASPLOOSH! I now had a very fragrant kitchen, as the liquid surrounded my feet, and seeped beneath every nook and cranny of the kitchen, throw rugs and all. So needless to say, I mopped the floor, ran out to restock the ingredients, and came home and started again. Life just never quits with throwing those learning experiences at you. 

Cranberry Clementine Crystallized Ginger Relish


12 ounces of cranberries
2 clementine oranges (washed and unpeeled)
3/4 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup coarsely chopped crystallized ginger (I supposed you could use the sugarless kind)
1/4 cup of marmalade

Step 1: 
Wash the cranberries and carefully pick out any rotten ones. Strain in a colander. 
Wash the clementines.

Step 2: 
In a food processor, coarsely chop the cranberries using the pulse button. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl.

Step 3: 
In the food processor, coarsely chop the clementines using the pulse button. Transfer to the mixing bowl. 

Step 4: 
With a sharp knife, chop the crystallized ginger, 1/2 cup worth, and add to the mixing bowl. 

Step 5: 
Add remaining ingredients and stir well. Cover and refrigerate. This can be made up to a week in advance. 

Happy cooking, basting, roasting and baking and have a very happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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