Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday and my love for it continues to grow each year. A few years ago I decided to take a moment out of each day to reflect on what I am thankful for in honor of the day, and in turn Thanksgiving has progressed in to my way of celebrating my year of thanks with what I love – food (and wine).
For November, it is surprisingly chilly here in Austin, which is really bringing about the holiday spirit – at least for me. I’m super excited that Thanksgiving is so near and slightly surprised that I haven’t made a preliminary pumpkin pie yet. For us cooks, Thanksgiving is a holiday centered around that sacred time in the kitchen – filling the room with the lively smells and aromas of fall – so brilliant and full of life – even if the world around us isn’t. I love to wake up at an ungodly hour to start the coffee and begin to prepare food if it is for myself, my family, or my friends – and so Thanksgiving is the best kind of excuse. There’s some sort of ritual to it all, something maybe only a cook knows.
I made this cranberry sauce a few weeks ago in excitement for the upcoming festivities and I ended up adding all the leftovers to a pepper jam I was making (recipe post to follow) but I am dreaming of next week’s re-enactment (I’m considering trying my luck at a whole duck). I go home to my family for Christmas, so Thanksgiving has become a personal holiday filled with a few Friendsgivings plus a solo feast I make for myself (and anyone without a place to be on Thanksgiving).
There are a few things I will always be thankful for, and one of those is finding out the cause to many of my health problems so early on in life. It caused me to take control of my diet and become more aware about where my food comes from. My commitment to such a lifestyle has changed my life for the better and continues to improve it more each day. I am also thankful to live in a city that provides year-round access to local, sustainable ingredients – including my year-round CSA with Johnson’s Backyard Garden. Also, it makes me sad to see Christmas everything the day after Halloween, so I am thankful for those who resist.
- 1 10oz bag cranberries, fresh or frozen
- 1 cinnamon stick
- thumbs worth of ginger, peeled and minced
- 3-4 dates, pitted and chopped fine
- 2 tablespoons raisins, chopped fine
- 1 tablespoon butter or coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup agave nectar or honey
- Heat a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Add the butter or coconut oil (fat of choice), and when hot add the minced ginger, cinnamon stick, and allspice. Cook for about a minute, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula to combine the butter and spices.
- Add the cranberries, dates, raisins, extracts, and the sweetener of choice. The cranberries will release their own juices, but if needed add a few tablespoons of filtered water or sweet wine. Cook over medium low heat (2-3ish) for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Can be made in advance. Sweeten to taste and serve warm.
- Adding more chopped dates will decrease the need for honey / agave nectar.
- I prefer a runnier sauce to avoid overusing thickeners, but if you are interested in a thicker sauce, you can add a tapioca slurry to the sauce during the last 5 minutes of cook time (2 teaspoons tapioca - 2 tablespoons filtered water or sweet wine). I wonder if unsweetened applesauce would work.