Wednesday, November 21

Thankful

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the United States. As a result, I've been doing just a tiny bit of research on Thanksgiving's history. Without getting into sad details, I wasn't the least bit surprised by what I found. The short version: the happy pilgrims and Native Americans we see in elementary school plays are a farce created by Caucasian historians. What a shock (not). 

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't take the day to spend with friends and family (that is, the family we chose, not necessarily the one we were foisted onto upon our birth), and to say "thank you" for all the good things in our lives. See, I know it's easy to complain; guilty as charged. Sometimes I think we even forget about all the really wonderful things in our lives. 

So let me begin: I am thankful to have a roof over my head--one that I only owe a little bit more on that it's currently worth! I am super thankful my husband has a decent job; he's a chef who works 40 hours a week plus benefits and a retirement plan. I'm also thankful that he's one step above a peon and one step below management (i.e., when it comes time for layoffs, the middle is usually hit the least hard, so I've learned to stop totally panicking every he tells me there are going to be more layoffs at the hospital where he works). 

I'm thankful to have such a wonderful family; my husband and daughter, as well as my husband's amazing family, and my daughter's grandfather. We've got some pretty awesome four-footed family members, too. 

I'm grateful to my friends, both my in person friends, the people I see every week--or just once a year (once a decade?), but who are very real parts of my life. Some are old friends, people I've known since elementary school or high school. Some are new friends, people I've only just met this last year, but cherish nonetheless. Some are people I've know for a couple of years and who continue to enrich my life through their love and friendship. 

I'm also grateful to my not-quite-real-life friends; people I know strictly through emails, but are friends nonetheless...but one of these days I *am* visiting Finland!  I'll even make broccoli soup. 

I've also met some truly wonderful people through my writing and I'll always be grateful to my fanfic readers, many of whom have exchanged emails with me--but some are just really nice folks who made me smile every time I saw their name on a review. 

And of course I am extremely thankful for the wonderful people over at Dreamspinner Press. I've been so swamped and overwhelmed with stuff this summer that I'm hopelessly behind on submitting promised books and Elizabeth has been nothing but kind and patient. The rest of the staff that I've had interactions with are so wonderful...I feel so very lucky to be a part of the Dreamspinner family of authors. I've never met such a wonderful, warm, accepting bunch of people. (Trust me, some of my previous experiences in other places really made me gun shy!) I am *really* looking forward to the get together next spring--and I'm super grateful that it's in Chicago where a very good friend of mine lives! I can't wait to visit. 

Above all, I'm thankful to the Powers that Be for providing me what I've needed to get through this past year. It was a really rough one for my family--and in that, I know we're not alone. It's been rough for a lot of people. When I say I'm grateful for the blessings in my life, that doesn't mean I don't acknowledge the hardships or that I'm trying to play Pollyanna, just that for everything that goes wrong there's at least one thing that goes right--usually more than one. But sometimes we forget about the good things when the bad things overwhelm us. 

If you feel like taking a moment to share, by all means, tell me what you're thankful for--especially if it's something you tend to take for granted (like me and my super awesome wonderful husband who has supported me through the last year; he is truly my rock.)

And...on a much lighter note, as we prepare for Thanksgiving here in the U.S., I want y'all to 'fess up. How many of you will be serving this tomorrow:


Okay, so maybe you fancy it up a little:


 



I don't know if cranberry "sauce" is a strictly American tradition or not, but that is NOT cranberry sauce. THIS is:




For the record, these pictures aren't mine; I'll be making mine on Thursday morning, but that one right above looks a LOT like the sauce I make. 

I make it at the last minute because it is so easy there's no reason to make it ahead of time--and no reason to serve that canned jellied stuff either.

Ingredients:
for my small family, this is the recipe I use; you can easily double it

Leftover cranberry sauce makes for great crepes! It can also be stirred into muffin batter, or turned into a quick tart. 
  • 1/2 lb fresh or frozen cranberries (if you buy fresh you can freeze the extras) 
  • 1 cup plain white sugar
  • 1/3 cup water (I often substitute white wine. Or red. One year, I made it with tequila; vodka would probably work pretty well, too. But I'm a tequila girl  ;-)
  • 1 orange, zested. You don't need a fancy tool, just a cheese grater (fine) and a little patience
    • You'll also want a squeeze half that orange for its juice--the rest makes a great snack while you're cooking because if you're like me, you completely skip breakfast and just suck down a cup of coffee while you're cooking! 
  • 4 or 6 whole cloves (or a 1/8 teaspoon powder)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon (or a few shakes) ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 (or a few shakes) ground ginger

All of the spices are totally optional; don't like ginger, leave it out. Like a less spicy sauce, use less. Don't want any spice? No sweat. Want to add cinnamon or use that oriental five spice I love so much? Have at it! 

I know what you're thinking, you're looking at that list and thinking that can of cranberry jelly is looking good, but trust me.

Take all of the ingredients EXCEPT for the orange zest and dump them into a pan. Okay, I usually add the water, then the sugar and then the rest, but seriously it's not crucial. Put the pan on the stove and bring to a gentle simmer (medium heat to start, then low heat once the water starts to bubble). You'll want to give it an occasional stir, but it doesn't need serious babysitting, you're free to do other stuff while this is going. Most directions say that it only takes ten minutes; I usually let my cranberries simmer for closer to fifteen because I like them soft. You may need to add water as it evaporates. 

When the sauce is done, remove it from the heat, add the orange zest, give it a good stir, and put it in whatever pretty serving bowl you've got. Voila. Done. 

Except for the part where you taste it and vow to never go back to that canned stuff ever again  :D

Be sure to stop back here on Saturday for a special post...
okay, the post isn't so special, but I'm giving something away.

And if you look on the sidebar, you'll notice I'm doing another Blog Hop!








2 comments:

Tali Spencer said...

I'm adding your recipe to my collection (I've added quite a few of yours!) even though I won't be using it. Why? My husband's family PREFERS jellied cranberry. They have never eaten it any other way. I prefer real cranberry sauce or relish and it kills me to serve the canned stuff, but there you have it. Happy Thanksgiving!

H.B. Pattskyn said...

:-) I guess there's a reason the canned stuff sells so well! I think it might be an acquired taste or maybe a texture thing. Let's face it, real cranberry sauce isn't smooth like the canned stuff (one reason why I prefer the real). But to each their own and it's important to keep the family happy! :D

Happy Thanksgiving!