My dear and lovely people:
Here I am, the day before Thanksgiving, making a loaf of gluten-free bread for my first Thanksgiving without real bread. The cranberries are ready to boil soon. And the pumpkin pies are starting to smell like the cinnamon-ginger goodness they’re bound to become. Outside, that clear blue sky beckons. We’re all alive. And in the midst of the darkening winter, this light.
It’s funny to me, how everyone grows caught up in Thanksgiving, as though it’s all about the stuffing, or stuffing as many people around the table as possible. Even without bread, this feels like the season. It’s not just the crisp air, the excitement of two days off of school without work, the heartbreaking thin light of winter. And it’s not even about the food, which is quite the statement for me. Even more than ever now, I realize this national holiday is about the gratitude. This has been an extraordinary year for me. In a storied, hilariously full life, this year soars above the rest. The year I finally found health. The year I started this website, and everything good that spill forward from it. And the year I have felt most alive in my life.
Gratitude spills out of me these days, as easily as my laughter. And words can never express how deeply grateful I am to have you all in my life. Here is a woefully incomplete list of why I feel gratitude surging through my chest today:
–for friends who adore food as much as I do, friends who bring me organic potatoes from the farmers’ markets spontaneously, friends who discuss recipes endlessly with me, friends who introduce me to pomegranate molasses and great olive oil and new brands of dark chocolate, friends who eat my meals with complete attention and grunting approval, friends who fill my email inbox with encouragement and love and stories, friends who are at the center of my life, my second family, my soulmates (all 128 of them and more). My beloveds.
–for my family, who play a mean game of Apples to Apples on the holidays, who offer me constant support and teasing taking the mickey out keeping me in place comments, who try all my recipes, who read this website, who gave me the DNA to exist, and who provided me with Elliott.
–for the internet, which keeps me occupied all day long, informs me on a daily basis about what can keep me most healthy, keeps me writing, makes me take photographs, and connects me to all of you reading.
–for all of you.
–for celiac disease, which has informed me my entire life, without once informing me of its existence until last spring. Without it, I wouldn’t have this life, as it is, or this website.
–for quinoa, red peppers, garlic, goat cheese, organic polenta, mushrooms, soy milk, poached eggs, sauteed spinach, corn tortillas, cranberries, figs, oranges, cassoulet, roast chicken, bananas, dark chocolate, ice water, red wine, fresh-cut ginger, millet fritters, and for the fact that I still have so much more to taste.
–for the sunlight on my fingers as I type this right now.
–for right now.
Right now is enough.
I hope that everyone reading this enjoys a Thanksgiving filled with an extraordinary ease of mind, languid days, and a vivid sense of being alive. Oh, and board games. Those are important too.
All my love,
CRANBERRY, CHERRY, AND PORT RELISH, adapted from Cooking Light, November 2005
There’s nothing like the tart sweetness of homemade cranberry relish to wake you up and remind you to be grateful for having tastebuds. In a sea of lovely, mushy tastes of Thanksgiving, a good cranberry relish can be a life raft, a remembrance of the piquant tastes of previous days.
This year, I’ve made a cranberry relish with depth and bite. I’ve adapted a recipe from Cooking Light, but it’s quite different. Expect photographs soon.
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of water
1/2 cup of port
1/4 teaspoon of ground allspice
1/2 cup of dried, tart cherries (I like the Trader Joe’s dried Rainier cherries)
16 ounces of fresh, organic cranberries
1 teaspoon of grated orange rind
1 small capful of vanilla extract
°Pour the first four ingredients into a saucepan. Stir, on high heat, until it comes to a boil.
°Add the cherries. Cook for one minute. And don’t cut it short.
°Pour in all the lovely, every-shade-of-red cranberries. Stir them about until it comes to a boil again. Reduce the heat to medium-low, then cover the pot with a lid. Preferably, you’d use a clear glass lid. That way, you can watch the cranberries simmer, then start to pop, then spread. It’s a wonderful sight, particularly if you grew up eating cranberries with the can ridges along the side. Simmer for ten minutes.
°Take the pan off the heat. Stir in the orange zest and vanilla extract.
°Put the cranberries into a large plastic container and chill overnight.