Today I’ve spent most of my day in the kitchen. It's a nice place to be. I have beautiful fresh fruits and vegetables gathered in baskets at the corner of my kitchen counter. There are squash and apples, oranges and pears. I also have Thanksgiving serving pieces gathered nearby including a hand painted turkey platter, my corn bowl and a special dish dedicated to cranberry sauce.
Then there is a pair of ceramic ladies in pristine aprons proclaiming Faith and Thankfulness with their hands folded in prayer. These salt and pepper shakers once belonged to Aunt Hen. They sat on a shelf in her dining room where we joined them for our evening meal every weekday as I was growing up. We also joined them in bowing our heads each evening as we thanked God for the blessings on and around our table. Now they stay with me to remind me of things I am thankful for: faith and roots and the blessing of a wonderful extended family that has loved and nurtured me.
I have spent my morning here in this good company. I am content to be here. The oven is warm. I like the sound of the water running in the sink, the fragrance of so many fruits and spices, the adventure of trying a few new things before I get down to preparing the traditional Thanksgiving dishes later this week.
A Touch of Something New
Since we expanded our cable subscription recently I have been watching the Food Network from the kitchen from time to time. It has been fun and inspiring to sample the programs there. A few days ago I saw Bobbie Flay on Iron Chef creating Thanksgiving dishes. He made a cranberry sauce with bourbon, vanilla and jalapeno. Wow. Who would have thought? I just had to try it!
I looked on-line but couldn't find a recipe for this particular relish. No problem. There were plenty of other recipes on-line for various cranberry relishes so I pulled out three or four with qualities similar to what I was thinking and smooshed them into one.
The result is a bit different than any other cranberry sauce I have ever tried, while not different enough to raise a red flag. It has a subtle edge and a sweet tang with the vanilla adding depth. My tasters have given it good marks so I think I will serve this with our Thanksgiving feast, along with our traditional favorite; a can of jellied cranberry sauce still sporting can marks and nestled in the traditional cranberry dish. I do love adventure but I'm not ashamed to say that I fiercely cling to the essentials and remember what is tried and true.
Bourbon Vanilla Cranberry Relish
1 1/2 cups cranberries
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup bourbon
1/2 vanilla bean
1 jalapeno, whole or finely chopped
Combine ingredients in a medium saucepan. While stirring, bring the mixture to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for approximately 5 minutes, or until most of the cranberrries have burst.
Remove from heat to cool. If you left the jalapeno pepper whole, remove it now and discard. Retrieve the vanilla bean from the sauce and set aside. When the vanilla bean is cool enough to handle comfortably, split it in half and scrape the seeds into the sauce. Stir until the vanilla seeds are distributed throughout the sauce. Discard the remaining hull.
Serve sauce warm or cold.