Growing up, my mom did most of the cooking in our exceedingly health-conscious kitchen. At Thanksgiving, she delegated a share of the labor -- grate this daikon radish, rinse these aduki beans, scrub this large hubbard squash that will serve as our turkey, roll out this cardboard-like pie crust made of sprouted spelt and ghee -- but most of the recipes were her own. One exception, and one of my favorite parts of the meal, was my dad's cranberry sauce, which he has perfected over the years and now is a standout dish that my own 4-year-old, who dubbed my father "Meep," requests often.
My parents do now eat meat, and my mom (Nana) still delegates certain tasks to Meep -- brine this pastured organic Amish turkey that I'm too grossed out to touch after all those vegetarian years -- during the hectic preparations of the annual Thanksgiving meal we enjoy together. Even my husband loves Meep's cranberry sauce, despite the relentless teasing about how my family eats and the fact that he weirdly likes the canned stuff -- which you know you shouldn't eat, right? Not just because of the high fructose corn syrup but also because of the BPA in the can lining.
Here's how you can easily enjoy Meep's cranberry sauce with a few fun variation ideas.
- 4 cups fresh organic cranberries
- 1 quart organic apple cider
- Optional: Real Vermont maple syrup, chia seeds, and more (as you'll see below)
- Rinse the cranberries and put them into a heavy-bottomed sauce pan.
- Add enough apple cider to almost cover the cranberries (cranberries float so this is something of an estimate).
- Cover and bring to a low boil/simmer. Shortly after they boil, the cranberries will start to split and pop. This is good!
- Continue to simmer until the cranberries are mushy and the cider has reduced and thickened. This can take anywhere from half an hour to an hour and a half, depending on how much cider you used. Cover and remove from heat if you want an unsweetened version, which is how Meep prefers his in fact.
Here is what Meep told me about sweetening the sauce:
There are two ways to properly sweeten your sauce. The first and slower way is to continue adding cider. As it boils down, your sauce will grow sweeter. The second and quicker method is to add small amounts of Vermont maple syrup until you achieve the desired balance between tart and sweet. Never add white or brown sugar!
He adds: There are all sorts of herbs/spices/fruits that can be added to exotify (nice word, eh?) your sauce. They include:
- Organic lemon (juice and/or rind and/or zest)
- Cayenne if you're a hottie! (Careful... Don't over-do it.)
- Organic orange (juice and/or rind and/or zest)
Okay, I'm feeling generous, so I'll let him take it away here with more ideas/political rantings...
This basic recipe provides a pretty thick sauce when cooked down enough, but some folks like their cranberry sauce to really stand at attention on the plate (weirdos). If that's your thing, try adding a tablespoon or two of chia seeds. Just stir them in as you are removing your concoction from the heat. Cover and let them sit for a few minutes... you'll have cranberry "frog eggs" in no time... and this is of course super good for you.
Unless you are a member of Congress, this recipe is difficult to screw up. (Don't worry... each congressperson gets his/her own private Monsanto lobbyist to cook their Thanksgiving meal for them... and those folks are really good at cooking stuff up!)
On that note, happy Thanksgiving from Gimme the Good Stuff!