Thursday, December 31, 2009

"we've only just begun"

the food: last meal of 2009
the song: "This Will be our Year" The Zombies

I'm getting ready to cook our last meal of the year before we head out the door to a New Years bash at our dear friends' house. As we raise our glasses tonight to ring in 2010, I'll be giving thanks for an amazing year filled with exploration and discovery. 

In 2009, we were fortunate enough to travel to Hawaii where we celebrated my awesome dad's birthday. We also traveled to Chicago to support our good friend as he accomplished the exciting and amazing feat of playing Lollapalooza. We had a wonderful trip to Marfa with one of our best friends. To round out the year, we celebrated with family at a beautiful wedding in Mexico.

2009 is the year I discovered my passions of cooking and gardening.  The kitchen has become the most important room in my house. We installed raised garden beds in our front yard and began using part of our lawn space to feed ourselves. Cooking motivates and inspires me. Growing makes me feel proud. My interest in food has also re-ignited my passion for writing, which challenges me and gives me yet another way to celebrate food. 

In 2009 we continued to thrive. Ten years ago, I attended a high school friend's New Year's Eve party at his parents house. And ten years later, that friend and I have built a happy and full life together, brimming with good. We celebrate our life with food and drink, taking advantage of everything our beautiful town has to offer, and relishing in our fantastic group of friends and supportive loving families.

I chose the above picture because at that peak in Hawaii I felt much like I feel now, looking into the new year. There are so many possibilities out there, so much waiting for us. It sometimes feels like we have to do a lot to keep up with it. But every now and then, it is important to just sit back and say "wow."

Happy 2010! Cheers!


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"why'd you have to go and make things so complicated?"

the food: Quinoa with Black Beans & Squash
the song: "Complicated" (I can't in good conscious link to Avril Lavigne. But here is something I can get behind.)

We're basking in the afterglow of the holidays at my house, filled with gratitude for our family visits and perhaps even more gratitude to be back in our own home. All the holiday decadence has me craving simple and healthy food.

I wrote a little while ago about monk food, and how sometimes the absolute best and most satisfying meal can be something simple. This meal has replaced beans and rice in my kitchen as a healthy staple, meant to provide a perfect protein. It's a special meal that only takes one pan, and I think it's worth posting here. The original recipe comes from Epicurious. I sometimes serve it in a tortilla with some sliced avocados, but I also like it right out of the bowl with a dash of hot sauce and a few tortilla chips. When I have to time to devote to pressing and marinating, this dish is also really awesome with chewy, baked tofu.

Quinoa with Black Beans and Cilantro
Serves 4 as a main dish; 6 as a side dish

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cup chopped white onions
1/2 cup chopped red or green bell pepper
1 cup chopped yellow or zucchini squash 
2 seeded and diced jalapenos
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 cup quinoa, rinsed, drained
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 ½ cups vegetable broth or water
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed, drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
Crumbled feta cheese (optional)

Heat oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions, bell pepper, jalapenos, garlic, and squash; sauté until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in quinoa and spices. Add broth; bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until quinoa is almost tender, about 14 minutes. Add beans and 1/4 cup cilantro; cook uncovered until heated through and liquid is fully absorbed, about 3 minutes. Transfer to bowl; sprinkle with more cilantro and cheese, if desired.

Here's to an uncomplicated 2010!


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"home is wherever I'm with you"

the food: post-holiday hibernation

We had a fantastic and eventful few days away from Austin filled with good food and better family. I received an early Christmas present before we left when my x-ray results came back and I learned my foot isn’t broken. Other than that, we got and gave the same thing…food! I spent the morning of our trip making homemade granola, soup mixes, and brownies.* 

 I'll never go back to traditional rushing around stores on the days proceeding Christmas. Cooking for family left me with a different feeling. Instead of worrying about money and stressing about finding the perfect book/trinket/snuggie, I was able to do something I enjoyed and feed people I care about. Challenges I encountered were things I like to ponder anyway. "What can I make that won't add to the mountain of sweets people usually get?...What will last for a while and look pretty on the shelf?...Will this really taste good and will people eat it?" The biggest obstacle was finding red lentils for a curried lentil soup mix.  Oh shoot...two Central Market trips in one day. That is usually the sign of a very good day in my house!

Our house is brimming with holiday goodies to inspire and make me hungry…everything from vintage garlic cookbooks to homemade Kahlua (from the husband’s grandma!) We're also now the proud subscribers to a bi-monthly microbrew club, meaning in a month there will be beer dropped off on our porch. It truly is a wonderful life. Also, I got some encouragement in the form of a gift card to Natural Gardener and a shiny new writing tool. And more importantly, I was met with enthusiastic support when I talked with family about my blossoming interest in food and writing.  

For the first time in my life (that I can remember, at least) I experienced a white Christmas, something so incredibly rare in Texas. Yes, the snow led to a six hour traffic jam with everyone else in west Fort Worth on Christmas Eve. There was scary driving, a little panic, and tears. But there was also a ton of support from my amazingly calm husband/co-pilot and the lesson of driving on ice. We connected with everyone out there (thankfully, not literally) because we were all in the same boat. Some handled it better than others. But we made it through, and the conditions that were treacherous at night led to a beautiful Christmas day with playful kitties and walks in the glittering snow.

Our hosts (my in-laws) are some of the most amazing cooks I know, and boy did we eat. It is truly inspiring to watch them effortlessly work together in the kitchen, creating beautiful and interesting food...chicken fried eggplant, spinach manicotti, tortellini with cilantro pesto, baklava whipped up just because there was leftover phyllo in the freezer. The true gift, though, was the time spent around the table. Our dinners were an event, stretching out over hours with plenty of courses, free-flowing wine and easy conversation. There was no skimping this holiday.

I hope everyone’s holiday was as merry and bright. 


*Brownie recipe coming shortly. Just wait for this one, because it will change your life.

Monday, December 21, 2009

"so black and blue for you"

the food: Garlic, garlic, and more garlic 
the song: "Bruises" Chairlift

Ok, stop me if you've heard this one. A girl walks into a bar and orders a beer. About an hour later she gets up to go to the bathroom and notices her foot is a little tingly. Thinking nothing of it, she takes a second step, and her foot goes out completely and makes her fall down. The bartender comes over to make sure she's ok, and she says "Hey, I ordered a Spring Bock, not a Sprain Bock!" Ba-dum-chee! 

Ohhh...geez...that was bad. I apologize. Last night after an incredible Bill Callahan show, I headed with friends to a bar where I drank one beer and proceeded to possibly break my foot. I've spent the morning going to the doctor and getting x-rays, and now I'm just waiting to see if it is a sprain or fracture. Let's hope for a sprain, because otherwise that's a trip to the foot specialist. My picture doesn't do a good job showing how swollen and bruised this thing looks, but from where I'm sitting it's pretty gnarly. Luckily my male nurse is taking good care of me.

But that's all beside the point, because today is a very special, happy day in my house. Today is the husband's birthday! Yay! Happy birthday, honey! We had an amazing birthday weekend filled with good friends and good food. For his birthday party, we wanted to do something a little different that would give people a chance to be creative and try some new things. We wanted something novel and different that included good food.

There are several foods that the husband particularly loves. We are both quite prone to Tex-Mex, specifically queso and migas (in various forms). He really loves ketchup, which makes me a little crazy. But more than anything, he loves garlic. So for his birthday, could anything be better than a garlic potluck?

We truly have the greatest group of friends, and they threw down for this celebration. Everyone was so into the idea and showed off their extensive culinary talents. It made for a really special day- I'm so thankful to our friends for their effort and creativity. Everything on the table included garlic, except for some crackers and bread used to spread the garlic concoctions on. Everything was so good, and it's hard to narrow it down, but I have to give a few shout outs here. I'm excluding my own dishes, but I'll tell you about them in a second.

Most unexpected use of garlic: not 1 but 2 garlic ice creams. One was spiced with black pepper, and another was straight up garlic. Intense and oddly delicious. I'm planning on trying some more tonight to reevaluate the taste since my taste buds are not quite as overloaded as they were at the party.  

Best way to work in pie crust: Bite-size roasted garlic cloves wrapped in pie crust and stuffed with mozzarella cheese. These were gone in about 10 minutes. Pie crust, you rock. 

Best "keep it simple, stupid" dish: 23 heads of roasted garlic, squeezed out and mashed up with bread. Afterall, garlic is perfect, and it doesn't really need anything to dress it up. The garlic puritan that brought this dish came in and literally doubled our clove tally marks.

Most likely to not contain garlic (but actually did): Garlic chip cookies. These cookies were rich and tasty and the garlic was so subtle that you could get away with serving them at a non-garlic potluck. They contained 10 heads, soaked in maple syrup. We luckily still have some of these leftover, too. 

Healthiest: Spicy marinated tofu with garlic. The simple tofu really let the spices do the talking. And it was a tasty break from all the rich dishes. 

Most impressive overall: Garlic beer. I knew about this one when it was brewed, and from the beginning I thought "Cool. It will be novel and mostly undrinkable. But very cool thing to try." I couldn't be more wrong. The beer was smokey and dark with just the slightest complexity of garlic. It will be amazing when we drink it with a non-garlic heavy meal. Can you see why the beer maker is our best friend? I mean...he homebrewed a garlic beer. Wow. 

All the dishes I made actually turned out really good, too. All these recipes are available on other sites, so I'll just link to them that way. First, I made roasted garlic soup containing 44 cloves of garlic. The only changes I made were throwing in some mushrooms and swiss chard to thicken it a bit. This recipe was amazing...super creamy and rich. A carnivorous party-goer told me it was so flavorful, he thought it had meat in it. Ha.

Next up on my list was sweet potato and garlic macaroni and cheese. Mac and cheese is a great thing to make for a potluck because there are people around to shame you out of eating the entire pan yourself. I can ever just make for this dish just for the two of us and feel good about it. (Although the sweet potato makes me feel a little less guilty. Actually, I take it back. Nothing can make up for that much half-and-half.) 

And finally, I took a shot at something really out of my comfort zone and made roasted garlic white chocolate cupcakes. I'm pretty proud of these, because they tasted good as cupcakes  but also really highlighted the garlic.

Man, I could go on here. There was so much delciousness- such a fun way to celebrate. I'm not sure what we'll possibly do to top it next year. But we have 364 days to think about it. For now, I'm going to put my foot up, share a good beer with the birthday boy, and be thankful for fragrant birthday wishes that come true. 


Saturday, December 19, 2009


the food: Animated Sustainable Food
the song: "Yahoos and Triangles" (King of the Hill theme) by The Refreshments

How good is King of the Hill? We love it because it hits the nail on the head when it comes to  small Texas towns and Texas state-of-mind. I grew up about 80 miles west of Garland, which is Mike Judge's old home and the real life inspiration for Arlen. KotH is so dead-on that it sometimes surprises me that non-Texans like it. But they do. If the show has created any stereotypes about beer sippin', alley standin' Texans I'm ok with that. Because I honestly feel like I know these people in real life.

King of the Hill was canceled by the evil Fox network after 12 years to make room for another Seth MacFarlane show (really), but thankfully it is in heavy syndication. Just when I think this show can't get better, I stumble upon an episode about the sustainable food movement. In "Raise the Steaks," Hank joins an Arlen food co-op after he discovers they have the best steaks in town. This episode is brilliant- it touches on everything from back yard chicken coups to pretentious hippies to the notable difference (and inherent problems) in "Big Organic" food production. Pretty complex themes, there. And this was in 2007!

After the food co-op has been bought out by the Mega-Lo-Mart, the Hill family sits around the table picking at their tasteless meat and vegetables. Hank tells them to just hurry up and eat, because maybe they will forget what real food tastes like. It's funny because it's true. 

Way to go, King of the Hill. You managed to tackle possibly the most important issue in America today without compromising the humor and heart of the show. And you didn't even need a sado-masocistic talking baby to do it.


Monday, December 14, 2009

"the night could last forever"

the food: lunch at 24 Diner
the song: "Afterhours" Velvet Underground

About a month ago, I started hearing rumors of a restaurant replacing Waterloo Ice House on South Lamar that boasted a modern menu highlighting local, farm fresh ingredients. Sounded good to me, but then I heard the real kicker: this place would be open 24 hours.

24 Diner opened a week and a half ago and the husband convinced me to try it this weekend. Oh lordy, I'm so glad he did. I've been daydreaming about this place all day long, coasting through Monday with a smile on my face thinking about this burger.

I ordered the veggie burger with fries, because sometimes in a new place it's best to start with something basic and work your way up. But I'm not sure this veggie burger could really be labeled basic. The base is a nice flavorful homemade patty, dressed with juicy roasted tomatoes, pungent arugula, creamy goat cheese and a subtle lemon vinaigrette. Not that there's anything wrong with a Garden Burger with mayo, but this was a welcomed change from the typical veggie burger. And I can't forget to mention those fries. They were crisp, crunchy and lightly sprinkled with course salt. You know, just your typical 24 hour diner fair.

I also tried a bite (or two...or three) of this veggie po' boy. Charred squash, roasted peppers, portabella mushroom, and carmelized onion. Yes, please. It is a hard to tell from this picture, but the bread was soft and light and didn't overwhelm the sandwich. I had to restrain myself from eating this entire serving of mac and cheese. This is comfort food at it's best... cheesy, gooey goodness, updated with a nice kick of black pepper and green onion. When you go to 24 Diner, don't even think about sharing the mac and cheese. Just get your own.

Some of the Yelp reviews have been a little harsh, but from where we were sitting this weekend, everything was smooth sailing. Considering how good our experience was, it really is suprising it has only been a week and a half since the doors opened and downright mind boggling that they haven't shut since. And there's so much I didn't even touch on! The specially roasted coffee, the atmosphere, the beer selection! I must go back. Good luck, 24 Diner. I'm excited to watch you grow.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

"should I take a class to loose my Southern accent?"

the food: Ricotta Gnocchi with Sauteed Collard Greens
the song: "Best Imitation of Myself" Ben Folds Five

It has been quiet around here this week. This cold and dreary weather has put me in hibernation mode, and I just haven't felt motivated to write. But don't you worry- I've been spending plenty of time in the kitchen, in the garden, and at the table. Despite my silence this week, I have managed to do a few things I'm pretty proud of.

1. To ward off our colds that just won't quit, I made another batch of vegetable soup. This time I shared it with friends, and added some garbanzos and spinach. It went over great with the crowd. Soup might be my go-to for easy group dinners this makes a ton, it is cheap, it is oh-so-satisfying, and everyone leaves feeling healthy and warm.

2. I got out in the garden to pull out my last summer vegetables. My okra, peppers, and (sadly) all my basil didn't fair so well in this cold weather, so out they came. But my broccoli and cauliflower babies are beautiful and almost ready. And (as you'll see in a minute) I harvested my first collard greens this week.

3. I attended my first official event as a food blogger (ok, ok so technically my husband's blog earned us the invitation. But that's beside the point.) A shout out is due to Vivo, who hosted a soft opening at their new north location last Tuesday. Vivo, you confirmed what I already knew...your food is delicious, and your margaritas are potent.

4. I made gnocchi. From scratch.

Why yes, as a matter of fact that IS a Texas cutting board.

I made a promise back in October that I would attempt homemade gnocchi this year. And attempt it I did. I used this recipe for easy ricotta gnocchi from the kitchn. The recipe is very easy and written perfectly- the amount of flour was right on, and just as described, the gnocchi bobbed right up to the top of the boiling pot of water. I was slightly dissapointed with the texture, but that's my fault. I have a bad habit of trying to make things healthier by using whole wheat flour, and despite the comments that say it is ok, this gnocchi recipe does not lend itself to the substitution. Next time, I'll use white flour, cut them about 1/2 the size, and add a good amount of salt to the batter. I will definitely experiment with this recipe again, and one day will try a more traditional version as well...the gnocchi must be mastered!

There was something perfect in this dinner, though. I read that collard greens should be harvested after the first frost, which magically takes away the bitter taste. My collard greens are extremely prolific and (because of the bitterness I'm sure) haven't been touched by bugs that keep nibbling my cauliflower leaves.

I grew up with greens cooked in the traditional Southern way- boiled for a long time with pork fat and served sprinkled with a little hot pepper sauce. And man, do I love me some Southen style greens. When I saw collards at Natural Gardener back in September, I didn't think twice about grabbing a few for my fall garden. The husband, however, did not grow up on Southern food. So when I excitedly showed him our newly aquired collard greens, he looked a little puzzled, as if to say "do we even like collard greens?" And he had a point. I was obviously  not going to cook my collards with a ham hock, and I'd never had them any other way. So I did a little research and found a great recipe for sauteed collard greens. These definitely have a strong taste, but they are an excellent way to enjoy a Southern staple, even for those of us that didn't grow up on them.

Sauteed Collard Greens

1 large bunch collard greens
2-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
red pepper flakes (optional)

First, put a large pot of water on to boil. Remove and discard stems and ribs of collard greens. Stack several of the leaves on top of each other and roll up like a cigar, then cut them crosswise into 1-inch pieces. In a pot of boiling water blanch half of the collards* for about 3 minutes. Drain in a colander, pressing out excess liquid with a spoon. Put remaining uncooked greens in the colander with the steamy boiled greens and set aside.

In a 12-inch cast iron skillet heat butter and oil over moderately high heat. Stir in garlic, collards, and salt and pepper to taste. Sauté collard mixture, stirring, until collards turn bright green and get a little wilty, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle collard greens with red pepper flakes and serve immediately.

*If you're worried these will be too bitter, or if you're not wild about strong tasting greens, go ahead and blanch all the collards before sauteing. We liked the texture of half and half, which keeps some pieces more crunchy and potent.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

"sunday is the day of rest"

the food: Roasted broccoli, sweet potatoes, & black beans
the song: "Seven Days a Week (I Never go to Work)" They Might Be Giants

It seems like I write a lot about our busy lifestyle. This weekend was no exception. The husband keeps us running, but in a good way. Saturday was the third annual ManFest at Bird's Barbershop, and despite the very cold wind that did a number on both of our (previously) recovering colds, it was fun. There was jousting, there was a centaur, and there was an awesome LCD Sound System cover band. Niiice.

So anyway, we're busy. But we also are pretty good at resting. On our days of rest, something I always try to include is a nice home cooked meal. It's not always fancy, and sometimes that's the whole point. A while ago, the kitchn posted a weekend meditation about monk's food, which they define as "food that speaks of nourishment and the quiet pleasures of taste, texture, temperature." Since reading that post, I've held in mind the idea of monk food. Now, I'm not one to give up my cheese, so when I refer to monk food I'm not talking about skimping on ingredients or taste. Monks make beer, after all. What I mean is something simple and basic that takes some time to prepare and leaves you feeling good. In this little slump between the food holidays (oh, I've got you in my sights, Christmas. And don't think you're in the clear, New Year's...) monk food can be just the ticket.

Tonight, dinner was a big plate of roasted broccoli, sweet potatoes, black beans, and airy bread. Recipes are not really needed for this, but I did consult The Amateur Gourmet on how to properly roast broccoli. And what he says about the method of cooking is right. The broccoli had a fantastic, rich flavor and a little crunch. For the roasted sweet potatoes, I tossed in a few white potatoes with the sweet...maybe a 3 to 1 ratio...along with thyme and salt and pepper. We ate it with Hatch chili salsa, which helped pull everything together and gave it a little tang. The flavors on the plate are very different but also very complimentary. Whether you get a bite of broccoli with sweet potato, or beans with bread and salsa, each taste is special and flavorful.

After this day of rest, finished off with a good and wholesome meal, I'm as ready as I'll ever be to face the world tomorrow.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

"never such a blizzard before"

the food: Vegetable Soup
the song: "Baby It's Cold Outside"

The holiday season is always the time I most enjoy working in a school. There is so much excitement in the air, with none of the cynicism or stress that adults (me included) so often associate with this time of year. I sometimes am a little overwhelmed with my job; working every day with twelve children under 3 years old is not only physically tiring, it also requires a lot of emotional and mental energy. But during the holidays, I feel lucky to be around so much wonder and anticipation, and it gives the long days at school a little shimmer.

And Friday- in Austin Texas- we had snow. Most of the kids in my class have never seen snow. It started up a little after lunchtime and was signaled by squeals and cheers from the older classes across the courtyard. Watching those children giggling wildly, trying to catch flakes on their tongues and I hardly noticed that it was hardly snowing. Nothing stuck and it lasted for maybe twenty minutes. But there was so much excitement, even after the sun came out. I got to enjoy the snow so much more, thanks to the kiddos at school.

On a cold and sort of snowy day, I was pretty excited to have vegetable soup leftovers for lunch. I made it a few nights ago, and it was only better today after the flavors had time to really seep together. Now, I realize there's no real recipe for vegetable soup. I make it a little different every time. Sometimes I'll throw in a handful of pasta or quinoa. This time I tossed in a third of a bag of lentils that had been in my pantry for a few months. Anything goes with soup- the recipe should really just read Chop, Saute, Simmer, and Season. Serve with crusty bread, homemade biscuits, or (like I did for lunch today) crackers.

Vegetable Soup

3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth + 3 cups water (
use whatever combo you like to make 6 cups of liquid- this is the one that works for me.)
Lots of your favorite chopped vegetables- this time I used:
2 carrots
1/2 white onion
a few green onions
3 cloves garlic
1 squash
1/2 green bell pepper
6 cremini mushrooms
1 can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
handful of fresh or frozen corn
can of kidney beans
bay leaf
olive oil or butter
white or red wine OR beer
handful of fresh herbs (I used oregano, spicy Thai basil, and rosemary)
salt & pepper
cracked red pepper (to taste)

In a large pot, saute onions & bell pepper in olive oil (or butter). Cook for a few minutes, then splash in some wine or beer. Add the rest of the chopped vegetables and garlic. When vegetables are coated in olive oil and getting a little soft, add vegetable stock, bay leaf, herbs and as much red pepper flakes as you like (I do a few generous shakes). Add fire roasted diced tomatoes and juices. Simmer for about half an hour, or until vegetables are getting soft and flavors have time to mingle. Add the kidney beans and corn during the last five minutes of cooking. Salt and pepper to taste. Top with parmesan, if you like.
Now about the song choice. I'm not a fan of holiday songs...and in all honesty I'm not a big fan of cold weather. But I adore this song. It's one of those things (like the kids in the snow) that sneaks up on me and make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Plus (unlike the kids in the snow) this song talks about booze, so of course I like it. According to Wikipedia, we have Frank Loesser to thank for this little ditty, all the way back in 1949. Who knew people were allowed to say "your lips look delicious" back in the forties? There are hundreds of versions of this song, but I will suggest three of my favorite versions to help you stay warm:


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"it was a hit"

the food: Jalapeno-Cranberry Relish
the song:"Your Mother Should Know" The Beatles

Ok, ok- just one more Thanksgiving post and I'll be ready to let it go. I've already moved on in my mind, but this one is just too good to not share. It is the only recipe I was asked for at our Thursday feast. I'll share it here, because a) I have to type it out anyway, and b) it another really good, updated version of a classic to spice up your table.

Are you wondering, "why are those seeds brown?" Don't worry, they are homegrown and that happens sometimes. Plus, don't they just have more personality that way? Anyway...this recipe is from my mom, and this relish is kind of her specialty. It was my first attempt at cranberry anything and I was really happy with how it came out. I followed the instructions exactly (well...I substituted juice from a very sour clementine for the lime) and it was the perfect texture and flavor. She's onto something with the "don't stir" notes, by the way- my cranberries cooked just right.

Jalapeno-Cranberry Relish

12 oz. fresh (best) or frozen (okay) whole cranberries

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

4-5 small green onions, chopped (I use some of the green tops)

Handful of fresh cilantro (washed, dried, and chopped)

1 or 2 (to taste) jalapenos (seeded and chopped)

1/2 fresh lime (about 1 TBLS juice)

Put water and sugar on medium high heat to boil. Stir to dissolve sugar. When water starts to
boil, dump washed cranberries in. Don't stir! Let liquid come to a boil again, then turn the heat down to medium and let cook for 10 minutes. (I always balance a lid on top of the pot--without covering the pot completely--so that it has a dome but allows heat to escape. This helps the cranberries on top to get nice and cooked.) Don't stir! When the time is up, the liquid should be thick and kind of like jelly. Remove from heat. Dump cranberry mixture into bowl and put bowl on a cooling rack so that the pot cools all around.

Wait at least an hour so that the mixture can cool completely and set up properly. Then
add the rest of the ingredients, stir, and refrigerate.

This can be done in advance and will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.
This relish only gets better with a little time, so hope for leftovers. Our lazy after-Thanksgiving Sunday was rounded out by a killer all-leftover meal of potato pancakes topped with this relish and goat cheese. Yum yum yum.


P.S. I'm still grinning from ear-to-pointy-ear after seeing Fantastic Mr. Fox last night. It is so cute and so Wes Anderson-y. I agree with the suggestion that it is a foodie movie- boozy apple cider, stuffed poultry, and pastries play a big role in the story. And Bill Murray plays a badger. Does it get any better?