Monday, November 28, 2011

My First Time Hosting Thanksgiving

My friends and I have typically had a potluck-style Thanksgiving: for the last few years, those of us in DC have congregated in someone's apartment, engaged in epic gluttony, and then vegged out with football.  This year, however, my friend who used to host is spending a year in Africa -- so we needed a new venue.

Hubs and I have a good amount of space, and thanks to the wedding, we have all the kitchen equipment needed to cook up a storm.  Cook up a storm, we did.  In fact, it was more like a massive typhoon.  We had turkey breast, brisket from Texas (hubs is Texan and very much a carnivore, so I bought him a 9 pound piece of brisket, freeze-dried and shipped from just down the road from his alma mater, for his birthday), broccoli and quinoa salad, curried pumpkin and sweet potato soup, spinach salad, GF stuffing, homemade cranberry-apple sauce, GF cranberry-orange bread, and a litany of desserts.

Happily, our first time hosting Thanksgiving dinner was a raging success!  Everyone gorged themselves, and food comas ensued.

The bad part?  I was completely exhausted by it all.  I'd been cooking since 7 a.m. on Thursday, and by the time we'd cleaned up after dinner, I felt like I'd been run over by a truck.  Holy crap.  I've never been so glad to have requested a day of vacation as I was on Friday.

Given the exhaustion, I basically spent Friday being the laziest mofo on the entire planet.  I'm not kidding.  The entire planet.  I could barely drag my butt up the street for my appointment at Massage Envy.  (I know, I know.  My life is so hard!  *Sigh, faint*)

While I sat on the couch and drooled on myself, though, I did realize that I really liked how my recipes for the curried pumpkin/sweet potato soup and the spicy cranberry-apple sauce turned out.  I also realized, though, that I barely had a chance to take pictures of anything.  (Bah!)  And what the hell would a recipe be without pictures?!  No good, obviously, so tonight I'll only put up the recipe for the spicy cranberry-apple sauce.  Guess I'll have to cook the curried pumpkin/sweet potato soup again...bummer! ;)

Spicy Cranberry-Apple Sauce

1 bag organic cranberries
2 apples, cored and diced
1/3 cup Truvia (or stevia)
3/4 cup agave nectar
4 teaspoons Chinese Five Spice mix

Pour the cranberries into a heavy-bottom pot, and put the diced apples in as well.  Fill it with just enough water to almost cover the berries and apples.

Turn the heat on medium-high, and keep it there until the water starts to boil.  Once this happens, the cranberries will start to pop -- which, if you ask me, is one of the most awesome things ever.

Side story:  I'd never made cranberry sauce until three years ago, and the first time I made it from scratch is something I'll never forget.  I was staying with my parents, having recently extricated myself from a relationship gone horribly wrong, and I was waiting for my job in DC to start.  It was a dark and miserable time for me: I was unemployed, heartbroken, and in what felt like perpetual limbo while I waited to be told when to show up for work in Washington.  I was a mess -- but when those cranberries started popping, I was enthralled.  It was the first time in months that unadulterated joy had punctured through my heavy haze of sadness.  So, cranberry sauce will always have a special place in my heart.

Once the berries start to pop, add the Truvia/stevia and the agave.  As the cranberries and apples start to liquefy, this will start to get gelatinous and gooey - and that's when it's time to add the Chinese Five Spice mix!  Chinese Five Spice -- a blend of anise, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, and either fennel or cumin, depending on the recipe -- does a fabulous job of complementing the fall flavors of cranberry and apple.

Continue to cook until everything is broken down and gelled.  Remove from heat, chill 1-2 hours, and serve.  Or, if you're me, eat it straight.

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