Friday, November 20, 2009

It's Never Too Early To Prepare -- Gingered Orange Cranberry Sauce

Twenty-four years ago, in the weeks before I was married, I had nightmares.

It's typical, I know, for brides-to-be to envision being abandoned at the alter, or being betrayed by a bridemaid, or being propped up at the altar in something other than -- or rather, less than -- their wedding gown.  (Funny how none of us foresee our eventual divorce.  Hmm.)

My scary dream, on the other hand, was that my mom arrived to the church late.  Silly, right?  But I justify the worry as significant because there was even a song about it.  Remember?  "Get Me To The Church On Time"?

Anyone who knows me knows I like to be prepared.  I plan ahead.  I make lists.  I arrive on time  And in fairness, so does my mom.  Well, everything except that "on time" bit.  (I love you, Mommy!)  Nearly 30 years after their divorce, Dad still torments Mom about her, um, "flexibility" when it comes to schedules.  But really, we don't want to go down that path now ...

You should see the black-speckled composition book Mom gave me a few years after the wedding, crammed with Scotch-taped scraps of paper and Post-It notes itemizing all my wedding details -- catering, flowers, and clothing selections.  Budgets.  Guest lists.  Looking back, I'm surprised it didn't contain a honeymoon packing list.  Perhaps both of us had the good sense to ix-nay that one.

Hmmph.  Not hard to see where I acquired the "need to be ready" gene, right?  Which is why this time of year makes my skin want to crawl right off my body and into a solitary confinement cell.  I know full well what the coming weeks hold.  Lists wouldn't begin to meet my current cravings.  I'm beyond lists now.  I want to check things off those lists.  I don't want to plan.  I want to do.

I want to shop.  I want to procure.  I want to stash.

I want to wrap.  I want to write.  I want to address.

I want to slice.  I want to dice.  I want to cook.

Problem with cooking, though, is that there are still days to go before Thanksgiving.  And even more in the way of me and Christmas.  I've already stashed some Sausage Bread in the freezer, with six loaves of Pumpkin Bread companions.  The Cheese Wafer dough is in the fridge.  Gingered Cranberry Orange Sauce is next.

I love homemade cranberry sauce.  It's super simple to make and keeps for at least a week (maybe two).  This version is particularly flavorful.  Where the canned stuff may seem a little, ahem, peculiar to picky eaters, this version is fresh and tart and flavorful -- and nightmare-free.

Gingered Orange Cranberry Sauce
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 seedless navel orange, cut in fine dice
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
2 whole cloves
2 whole allspice
2 peppercorns
1 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries

In medium saucepan, bring water, sugar, ginger and orange to a boil.  Reduce to simmer.  Put spices in a teaball or small cheesecloth bag and immerse in mixture. Stir in cranberries.  Simmer 15-20 minutes until thickened.  Remove spices, allow to cool to room temperature, and then, refrigerate.
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