Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Kitchen Ogre's Quick Thanksgiving Recipe: Cranberries

"Oh, no!  It's almost Thanksgiving, I'm in a rush, and I still have to figure out a side dish to bring to grandma's house!!!"

We've all been in a similar situation.  Maybe it was somewhere other than grandma's house.  Maybe it was a different holiday.  But we've all been there.

Some people are lucky.

They don't cook, so they bring the chips or some drinks.  They just have to suffer through long lines at a grocery store.

The rest of us, though, are stuck trying to figure something out a day or two beforehand, fighting the impulse to transform into an Ogre due to the stress, because we just kept putting it off until tomorrow.

So what do you do in a case like this?

I have this problem... well... a lot.  Indeed, my procrastination has caused this so often that I've made a list of holidays, and which "quick foods" I need to offer to make... well ahead of time.

Seriously.  A list of holidays with foods beside their names.  Complete with offering to make them a whole month in advance.

Hey!  I know I'm going to forget, so I may as well make sure I have a safe point when I do, right?

The rules are simple, and anyone can follow them:

  • You must actually like the food in question.
  • The recipe must use 5 ingredients or less (makes it easier to find them all at the last minute)
  • Total time spent in the kitchen (including the cleanup) must be 30 minutes or less.
I clean slowly (because I hate cleaning), so in actuality, half of my time tends to be used cleaning.  15 minute recipes, anyone?

Cranberries are key!

My go-to recipe for Thanksgiving is cranberry sauce.  If you're really stressed for time, the bags of cranberries tend to have a basic 3 ingredient recipe on them. This recipe generally consists of cranberries, water, and sugar.

But that's boring.  Seriously, who wants to eat that?

I use a recipe that I got a few years ago.  It's much more tasty, still has only a few ingredients... unless I decide to get creative, in which case everyone steers clear of the kitchen for fear of being attacked by

The Kitchen Ogre.

Green-faced ogre wielding a giant spoon.  "ME SMASH PUNY HUMAN!"

Did I happen to mention that I always get creative?  Having a clear kitchen is rather handy...

The recipe is simple.


  1. 1 bag of cranberries (standard size)
  2. 1 cup of orange juice
  3. 1 cup of sugar
  4. cinnamon
Heat your burner to medium, pour in the orange juice and the sugar, then stir it until the sugar dissolves.  Add the cranberries.  Stir again.  You want those cranberries to be reasonably covered. Once the cranberries pop (literally... you'll hear the sound), remove the mix from the burner and add cinnamon to taste.    Mash it up.  Or don't.  Again, that depends on taste.  The sauce will thicken as it cools. 

Total time, including cleaning is around 20 minutes.

But I'm creative, see, so my ingredients end up looking like this:

Bag of oranges, bag of cranberries, hand juicer, raw sugar, spice container, recipe card
Yep.  That's the same sugar that I used for my sugaring paste.
Sugar lasts a while in this house.

Yep.  Forget the orange juice.  Do you know what they do to that stuff to make it fridge/freezer ready???  Seriously, the processing is pretty gross.  Be nice to the environment and your body.  Use some elbow grease and squeeze your own juice... the old fashioned way.

Ok, maybe you don't want to do that.  It increases the time it takes to prepare the sauce.

Not a problem.

Grab a victim volunteer and make him or her do it for you.

My husband doesn't like the Kitchen Ogre.

He's learned, however, that if he does a portion of the work for me and stays in a single out-of-the-way location, the Kitchen Ogre stays at bay.  If he plans it right, he can even manage to grab a snack or a drink out of the fridge and run out before I notice any changes have occurred within my lair.

Clever human... 

Once your victim has juiced enough oranges to give you one cup of juice, follow the recipe instructions above.  As long as you have the 3 main components (cranberries, orange juice, sugar), it's really hard to mess up.

Cranberry sauce is a beautiful thing...

This time, I changed the recipe in a few ways.  For one, I didn't feel like using a full cup of sugar.  Sure, what I have is organic, and it's pure, lightly processed sugar cane, rather than the GMO filled beet sugar that you generally buy, but I wanted to make it a little more environmentally friendly.

So I used 1/2 cup of local honey from the farmers market and 1/2 cup of the sugar, instead of one full cup of sugar.  Just a small step toward eco-friendliness, but a step, nonetheless.

bottle of honey with a blue and white label: Pure Natural Honey, Net wt. 2 lb

I also got creative with the spices.  Instead of using plain cinnamon, I threw together some nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger, - just a dash of each - then sprinkled some in, bit by bit, until it passed my taste test.

The result?

Bright red sauce with some whole berries still visible, contained within a large glass bowl.

Pure yumminess.  

As you can see, I mashed it.  I could have strained it to remove the skins if I wanted, but that would have a) taken more time, and b) created more waste.

The skins are edible, after all, so why remove them?  I kind of think they add a nice visual quality, as well as texture.

My total time, due to juicing oranges and bringing out extra supplies was 27 minutes - that includes cleaning! This recipe is quick, as well as easy, which means that the Kitchen Ogre has less of a chance of attacking innocent bystanders.

Of course, one has to wonder... are they really considered innocent if they're invading your lair?


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