So Thankful, But…

This post will indeed contain a recipe (though not from a cookbook).  But first, please humor me while I subject you to a bit of a diatribe.

I am so very thankful for so many things.  But…

The holidays are stressing me out.  Already.  My breakfast today consisted of a cup of coffee, four crepes with cheese melted in the microwave, and a couple slugs of white wine to finish off the bottle I was

tired of seeing on my sideboard.  This is not the breakfast of a sane person, particularly one who doesn’t usually drink alcohol in the morning.

Why, oh why, do we do it to ourselves?  This “holiday thing”, that is.  How in the world did an entire holiday season from Thanksgiving through New Years, meant to remind us of how grateful we are for any number of things, turn into an endless sea of anxiety-producing what-ifs?

What if my turkey isn’t perfect?  What if someone’s travel schedule gets screwed up?  How will I manage an exhausting, mind-numbing schedule of Black Friday shopping?  What if I didn’t get whoever the right whatever?  What if I forgot to send cards?  What if I can’t pay my credit card bills look like in January?  What if I can’t afford to buy my child the season’s #1 toy?

WHO CARES!!!

That’s not what it’s all about anyway.  Never has been.

I am not a materialistic, egotistical person.  So why do I start to feel like one as soon as Thanksgiving rolls around?

I know I’ve said it before, but this year, mama ain’t playing.

If I am unable to make the people I love and my time with them the focus of my holidays, then I don’t deserve to celebrate the holidays.  It’s that simple.

Luckily my holiday angst this year (1) doesn’t have to center around a turkey, since I’m not the primary cook, 2) certainly doesn’t involve Black Friday, which I’ve now been successfully boycotting for over a decade, and (3) since I only have children of the feline variety, will not culminate in fisticuffs at the local Toys-R-Us.

No, my particular brand of stress is probably bizarre to most people.

  • I am worried about using up the leftovers in the refrigerator before I leave for my parents’ house.
  • I am stressed out that I might get stressed out if we don’t leave on time tomorrow.  And I don’t even know what “on time” is!
  • I’m feeling guilty about leaving my cat Buster while he’s sick and the other cats are being kind of mean to him.
  • I’m feeling even more guilty because, unless we get really good news from the vet today, I’ll most likely be cutting my family visit short to come home and care for said cat.

My entire family is prone to the “what-if” syndrome.  What if someone doesn’t like what I cook?  What if the kids get in a car crash on the way down to Athens?  What if the dogs and cat don’t get along?  What if someone says something to hurt someone’s feelings?  What if, what if, what if, what if.

Or maybe…

What if we all just relaxed and had a good time?  Would the world come to a crashing halt?  We love each other more than life itself.  So let’s just chill.

And that’s my somewhat dubious segue back to foodland.  Chill.  My contribution to Thanksgiving Dinner this year will be my favorite cranberry sauce, baked in the oven at least a day in advance and chilled – giving me plenty of time to relax and help with the other last-minute food preparations.

I should add – I am making this dish in part because I’m really the only person in my family who absolutely CRAVES cranberry sauce!

Grand Marnier Cranberry Sauce:

This recipe makes about 2 cups.  I could eat the whole bowl in one sitting.

Place 12 oz fresh whole cranberries in a large glass baking dish.  (Your dish should be quite a bit larger than your cranberries, as you don’t want it to bubble over and make a mess in your oven.)  Top with 1 1/4 cups sugar and 2 TB thawed orange juice concentrate (or just plain orange juice).

Cover baking dish tightly with foil and place on a baking tray or round pizza pan.  This will also help avoid spills, particularly if your dish wasn’t quite big enough.  Bake at 325 for about an hour.  Cranberries will be very soft and there will be quite a bit of liquid in the baking dish.

Mix in 2 TB Grand Marnier liqueur.  Pour sauce into a small serving bowl, cover and chill for up to three days.  The sauce will thicken after it is cold.

I wish for you and yours (and me and mine) the kind of Thanksgiving where exists the infinite satisfaction derived simply from good food, good company and a break from the rat race, even if it’s all too short.

Until next time,

Clevelandkat

Update 11/26/2010:

Our Thanksgiving was beautiful and relatively peaceful too.  Now safely back in Cleveland, I thought I’d fill you in on a couple of adjustments I made to the Cranberry Sauce this time around:

  • I didn’t feel like spending money on Grand Marnier.  However, we have brandy around with some frequency this time of year.  So I got an orange, and grated about 2 TB of the zest, and added it to about 2 TB of brandy.  This I set aside while the cranberries were baking.  Voila – orange infused liqueur!
  • I juiced the orange, and substituted the freshly squeezed juice for the orange juice concentrate.
  • I used 1 cup of sugar as the recipe calls for, and then substituted a nice big spoonful of honey for the other 1/4 cup of sugar.  I tossed the honey with the cranberries before I added the other ingredients.

Yum!  I think I’ll change the recipe forever!

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~ by clevelandkat on November 23, 2010.

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