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curmudgeonly cranberry sauce

Recipe: basic cranberry sauce

I’m a contributor on Punchfork, which is a great food porn site that publishes in real time. I love it!

You can also find some of my Thanksgivingesque recipes along with tons of other great contributions from favorite food bloggers over at Pasplore.

Gojee launched their drinks section about a week ago and I’m a contributor there as well as on their regular food recipes section. It’s a beautiful site to peruse although the navigation might make you a little batshit.
end announcements

Soooo, it’s Thanksgiving this week in the United States. I’m struck more by the fact that it’s now November than the crush of holiday recipes on the blogosphere. I’ll be frank (because I don’t really know how else to be). I don’t dig on Thanksgiving dinner these days. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like Thanksgiving, as in giving thanks. I give thanks daily. All year. I have so much to be thankful for! I think the concept of giving thanks is a very very good one. Be thankful for what you have and while you’re at it, you can also help one(s) who is (are) less fortunate. That part, I love.

The part I’ve come to fall out of love with is the dinner. I’m just not that into it. I don’t like stuffing myself silly (perhaps that comes with getting older? I dunno) and the idea of going to so much trouble for a meal that no longer elicits mouth-watering anticipation but more of a meh from me. We are particularly fond of getting outside when others are traditionally inside (presumably hung over, opening gifts, cooking, and whatnot): Thanksgiving day, Christmas morning, New Year’s morning, and Superbowl Sunday. That leaves little time to prepare a big turkey feast and I’m fine with that. We usually opt for something that is quick and satisfying after a day spent out in the snow. It just feels better.

I find myself shying away from the holidays lately, seeking quality time with Jeremy and Kaweah over shopping and planning a giant celebration with excessive amounts of food. I need to concentrate on life maintenance, health, work, and a recalibration of priorities right now. These things always get screwed up and lost in the frenzy of travel, work, blogging, socializing… As the holiday season shifts into high gear, I am trying to slow the pace down and reassess.

kaweah is slowing down too

opening day at the local hill

but we also like the solitude of the backcountry

skiers only, bitches :)

jeremy breaks trail in fresh powder

Of all the Thanksgiving dishes to adorn a traditional table, there is one that I love – cranberry sauce. It is a bright, tart, vibrant dish that livens up the plate. When I learned to make it from scratch, I was astounded at how easy it was. It made me wonder why anyone would buy canned cranberry sauce if you could 1) make it yourself for not much additional effort and 2) know EXACTLY what you’re putting into it. Call me a control freak. I’m a control freak.

organic cranberries, organic sugar, and organic water (ha ha! i’m kidding about the water)

combine sugar and water

Cranberries are naturally high in pectin (like quince) such that they gel nicely when you cook them down and will firm up as the sauce cools. I stick with organic cranberries because, as you know, I’m a control freak. If I want pesticides in any dosage, I’d prefer to measure them out myself.

add cranberries to boiling sugar water

watch the cranberries break down and thicken

It takes all of ten, fifteen minutes to make and the sound of the cranberries bursting their skins is highly gratifying (to me at least). I made the clean version which is just cranberries, but you can jazz it up with spices, orange peel, booze – you name it! Even though we aren’t doing the turkey with all the fixings, I like making cranberry sauce to slather on a sandwich. I’m all about the sandwich…

naturally brilliant red

it’s good for you

Basic Cranberry Sauce
[print recipe]

4 cups (12 oz.) cranberries, fresh or frozen – washed and picked over
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan over high heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved. When liquid comes to a boil, add the cranberries and return to boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes. The cranberries should pop and break down as well as thicken up. I like to leave a few whole ones. Makes about 2 cups of cranberry sauce.

27 nibbles at “curmudgeonly cranberry sauce”

  1. Virginia says:

    first comment!!! :P

    this looks awesome — my mother is a FIEND for cranberry sauce, so I’ll have to make this with her & we can have the mother-daughter bonding time she’s always bugging me for haha

  2. Tiff says:

    Congrats on these new positions as contributor! I’m sure you’re really excited about all of the sites you now contribute to. :D

    I might have to try this cranberry sauce recipe, it looks delicious. I myself, am the opposite when it comes to Thanksgiving, but I am a bit of a homebody. Although I do love me some snow! Maybe it’s just time to celebrate Thanksgiving with non-traditional Thanksgiving food! It’s what my family always does, but that’s because my mom is an avid Vietnamese cooker who must have at least 4 dishes that are Asian to appeal to her palette. The rest is just for the sake of Thanksgiving. My dad prefers chicken over turkey & my mom’s stuffing is hardly traditional, it’s meat based!

    Happy holidays! I’ve been a long time lurker. :)

  3. Twila Moon says:

    Was _just_ discussing cranberry sauce with my housemate. We found recipes on the shelf that are like yours, but one had 2 cups sugar and one with 3. I’m very glad to see that you are making a yummy, tart sauce with 1 cup. We’ll definitely go with that because tart makes my mouth water. And we were a bit worried about the thickening up part, so thanks for the reassurance – perfect timing!

  4. Barbara says:

    Oh I love that Pasplore site. Saw it last week and had a little play.

  5. Nicola says:

    I’m with you on the solitude and peace of holidays spent away from the madding crowd.

  6. Sally - My Custard Pie says:

    I totally agree with you – it’s all about the sandwich. I make cranberry sauce just like this at Christmas specially for the left-overs. It seems to keep for a while in the fridge so I make loads.

  7. Carla says:

    I add the goodies..apricots, ginger, currents and hot pepper for a touch of heat…. Use brown sugar instead of white. Like others I make loads and eat it on everything till it’s gone. It’s the one thing I really enjoy making this time of year. Had a chuckle about the popping cranberries….I also love that sound. Hummm, maybe that’s why I can…all those popping lids!
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  8. Melissa @ Baking For The Boys says:

    My favorite Thanksgivings were those when my husband and I lived far away from our families. We would make a small Thanksgiving type dinner (usually ham though), watched football in our jammies, and then went for a hike afterwards. Now we are living near our family and attend a not so peaceful Thanksgiving.

  9. swan says:

    making the cuban pork sandwich tonight! it’s been marinating since yesterday…even though i live in the bay area, mango juice is hard to find here as well, so it was all OJ too.

    kaweah looks loved and happy. i know how you feel about T-Day (it’s how i feel about x-mas), but enjoy being a family!


  10. Theresa says:

    I’m with you – the cranberry sauce is the best part of ANY thanksgiving. I look forward to making and eating it every year, even though my family thinks I’m crazy. It’s the best part of any sandwich and amazing as a topper for french toast. Who needs stuffing when you could have cranberry sauce? :)

  11. Jill says:

    I love cranberries too. And would never consider the stuff that slides out of a can. ACK. I love the thankfulness of Thanksgiving, but not the meal either. Fortunately we are having a simple one together this year. That’s what it’s about to me. Enjoy your backcountry! hugs…..

  12. Barbara | Creative Culinary says:

    I enjoy the effort of making a holiday dinner but each year they get simpler. I think I make turkey only so that I can enjoy a sandwich the day after…one with cream cheese, sprouts and homemade cranberry sauce. Like many; it took a bit of convincing after a childhood of that canned jellied stuff that cranberry sauce was good and now I’m hooked. Today I’m testing a ‘Cosmo’ sauce with vodka and oranges. Cheers!

  13. Terry says:

    I loved your post; felt relaxed after reading it ….”recalibration of priorities…” feels good to me!

  14. sarah says:

    lol @ “organic water”

  15. jacquie says:

    i couldn’t agree w/ you more about the upcoming holiday season – not the being thankful or giving to other’s part but the over-indulgence and general excessivness of it all (IMHO) part of it. my pups and i typically spend it as you and jeremy do – in the outdoors w/ simple and fresh food. not that there means there aren’t any treats in there – cuz there are – but just taking the time to slow down and be…..

  16. MaryW says:

    I must say, I’m a huge fan of the meal…but I do love some cranberry sauce…I do the uncooked version with ground up cranberries, a can of chopped mandarin oranges, and sugar…it’s so yummy.. I also do a Kahlua Turkey, and kahlua yams…deviled eggs,stuffing, salad, pumpkin pie..and definitely something chocolate :D

  17. Katie | Healthnut Foodie says:

    We LOVE cranberry sauce. I just posted a version using real maple syrup and apples instead of sugar. Yum! Our favorite leftover sandwich is turkey, cranberry sauce, and havarti paninis!!!! SO Good!!!

  18. Heather @ A Sweet Simple Life says:

    Love the simplicity and looks so much better than canned cranberry sauce. Thanks for posting!

  19. Christine says:

    I LOVE Thanksgiving Day, even if we don’t have a turkey because I love that the day centers around being thankful with family and good food. I don’t need to stuff myself, because hey, I’m home and I’ll have the leftovers…so no binging necessary. But Christmas? BAH. I hate the gift pressures that exist and then New Year’s Eve, although I must say after a crappy couple of years, a change in year might be the thing I need.

    (PS – I make my cranberry sauce the exact same way, but then I strain out the skins. It’s like a thicker version of the jellied stuff, but more tart and I know everything in it.)

  20. Tia G says:

    Great Post! Will use the recipe for Thanksgiving!

  21. Rumpy Drummond says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the “Big Meal.” I feel the same way, but I am always hesitant to say so. Gratitude is a feeling I choose to cultivate in my life. That is what I want to focus on today.

  22. Sandy says:

    I like to make a similar cranberry sauce, using orange juice instead of water and cutting the sugar to just a little less than one cup. Next time, I’m going to add orange peel.

  23. Lee says:

    I had a bag of cranberries left over this year after doing scientific investigations with a bunch of 1st graders. I made your recipe and it came out great. I usually throw in more stuff, like orange juice, but I liked the bare cranberry flavor and tartness of your version. Thanks!

  24. Bing Chou says:

    Love the photo of Kaweah, as usual. She reminds me of my pup, a black lab/sharpei mix. Always so jealous of the shots.

  25. Meredith says:

    My cranberry sauce has orange zest and juice, ground ginger, and then chunky bits: apples, jicama, and raisins. My family tends to eat it out of bowls like dessert, instead of on the turkey. Yum, yum.

  26. jenyu says:

    Virginia – aww, you’re a good daughter :)

    Tiff – meh, its’ neither here nor there. Many ask you to contribute and then ask that you “publicize”. I only contribute to the ones that don’t annoy the hell out of me :) As for t-giving, I find myself drawn to the Asian-style feasts that many of my friends have been doing. Mmmm!

    Twila Moon – wow, 2 cups? 3 cups? I thought 1 was a lot. I definitely like the tart sauce!

    Barbara – it’s fun! It’s not necessarily easy to find what you want right away, but it’s fun.

    Nicola – right on!

    Sally – me too! ha ha ha! :)

    Carla – I feel the same way about popping lids during canning! What a lovely sound of home cooking!

    Melissa – I definitely know what you mean. I like seeing my family under circumstances other than thanksgiving.

    swan – i feel the same about xmas too :)

    Theresa – cranberry sauce on french toast?? you are brilliant!

    Jill – I hope you guys had a lovely t-giving. Hugs to the doctor and the kittehs :) xo

    Terry – thanks! I really don’t think the holidays should be stressful, right?

    sarah – I think you may be the only one who caught that ;)

    jacquie – yes!

    MaryW – mmm, that sounds good!

    Katie – Oh, I like that idea. I’ll check it out.

    Heather – thanks!

    Christine – I’m with ya on the gifts xo

    Tia – thanks :)

    Rumpy Drummond – yeah, I think folks just take the whole indulgence/gifts/etc. too far. Not my style.

    Sandy – nice!

    Lee – so cool that you did experiments with 1st graders! We need more folks like you :)

    Bing – xo

    Meredith – That sounds like a great variation.

  27. Lunch Without Nuts: 25 Simple Ideas for Peanut-Free Lunches - One Crafty Place says:

    […] 5. Turkey and cranberry sandwich:  These are great around the holidays, and the cranberries give the sandwich a delicious tangy sweetness. You can find a simple recipe for homemade cranberry sauce here. […]

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