Monday, November 30, 2009

While We're Talking Turkey, We Should Probably Also Discuss the Cranberry Sauce

So, as we were waiting for the guests to arrive, I decided to pull out a couple of games for any non-lovers of football. And that happened to be most of the women in the room. (Not that I'm trying to be exclusive here! There were 2 women who were TOTALLY into the football.... or let me amend that and say: one woman was totally into the Canadian football. Another was a bit skeptical because of our strange northern ways and rules. Though she WAS overheard yelling at the television set when it got super exciting in the final seconds of the game!)

My brother Paully, and sis-in-law Michele, gave me this Origami Christmas Ornament craft kit a few years ago, and as I was tidying up, I was suddenly swept up in a beautifully romantic image of sitting around making origami Christmas ornaments. In my mind, we were all sipping wine, having witty repartee and pumpin' out gorgeous little whimsical things. So I opened the box, put some lovely music on and started reading the instructions.

At which point, it became apparent that the making of origami actually requires a PHD in geometry, with a minor in physics.

"But wait", I thought, before throwing the whole works across the living room, "You're (sorta) smart. You can figure this out." So I struggled and swore and mastered BASIC SHAPE 1.

The problem with BASIC SHAPE 1 is that it's nothing. It's a blob of paper with creases in it. It doesn't resemble a swan or a bunny or ANYTHING.

And the only thing that prevented me from putting the kit away, was the fact that they kindly INCLUDED a fully formed origami ornament in the box. Here's a shot of me holding the fully formed paper ornament (on the left) with my paper blob on the right. I'm fairly certain that my sadness is emanating from the screen right now...

Enter our friend, Diyan, who grew up in Asia, where apparently, they take origami class in school! Also, she is a most talented print maker, so is pretty well versed in all things paper. So she scanned the page, and immediately sprang into a folding frenzy.

Look what she made! With her own two hands! It's a reindeer!!!!!

And then we pulled out the Boggle game.

And that same friend (Diyan) proceeded to KICK THE ASSES of both Tamara and myself. It was frightening the way she smacked those little lettered dice into submission. I know I was scared of her!

There was another game that was started - but more about that later. Suffice it to say that it wasn't long before Mister Man rang the dinner bell! (Okay - there was no dinner bell - there was a last minute flurry that precluded me getting the "high art portraits of chefs and their dishes" that had been in my dreams. Rather, I had only moments to get slap dash snaps of folks holding their food.)

Tamara and Andrew brought 2 kinds of cranberry sauce for the turkey. (And while the positioning of the two bowls of sauce may look like it's from a Benny Hill re-run, I can assure you there was nothing intentional about the placement of these bowls!! We were all fixated with the feast!)

Cranberry-Orange Sauce (a la Rachel Ray)
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1/2 cup sugar, plus more if desired
Pinch salt
One 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries, rinsed

In a medium saucepan, heat 1/2 cup water with the orange zest, orange juice, sugar and salt over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the cranberries and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the cranberries burst and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 7 minutes. Sweeten with more sugar, if desired. Let the sauce cool to room temperature before serving.

Cranberry-Mustard Relish (a la Bon Appetit) (very fancy!)
1 12-ounce package fresh or frozen cranberries
1 1/3 cups sugar
4 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 1/2 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
Combine cranberries and sugar in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Continue cooking until cranberries begin to pop, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Cool completely. Stir in both mustards. Can be made a week ahead of the big event. Cover and chill.

They were both delicious (and I'm not a lover of cranberry sauce!) I particularly loved the Cranberry-orange one. It was zippy and fresh.

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