Thanksgiving went by way too fast....Hubby and I arrived at Grandma's house on Tuesday night, with our cat Oliver in tow, ready to get up first thing on Wednesday morning for a full day of preparation to begin. My cousin was also there to help so it was all hands on deck. We...
- made 6 pies--1 apple, 1 pecan and 4 pumpkin
- made 3 salads--blueberry jello salad, 7 layer salad and prepped fruit salad with whipped cream and marshmallows to be put together the next day
- made the base and topping for sweet potato casserole and traditional sweet potatoes with marshmallows, also ready for assembly the next day
- peeled potatoes for mashed potatoes (and vacuum sealed them in a little water so they would be ready to go the next day--I love the idea of vacuum sealing them so you can avoid all that potato prep on Thanksgiving day when you are busy with a 1000 other things)
- made 2 big pans of cinnamon rolls to be baked early Thanksgiving morning (looks like this one might be a new tradition)
Grandma had also done some serious prep before we got there...she made all the pie crusts and froze them (including making crust for turkey pot pies to be made from leftovers) and chopping all the veggies for the stuffing and the relish/veggie tray. Not to mention all the shopping of course. Grandma's been hosting Thanksgiving for a while now and has it all down to a science. She makes it look so easy to pull together all these dishes, along with a traditional turkey (and a ham), for 20 people all by 1pm! We eat early which means we have room for "second dinner" in the early evening where everyone is already anxious to break out the leftovers. Yum.
One of the treats that graced the Thanksgiving table this year were these cranberry orange preserves. It was my first time working with fresh cranberries and I wasn't sure how the preserves would come out. I'm happy to say my fears were unfounded and it was a big hit at the Thanksgiving table. Even my 10 year old nephew couldn't stop talking about how much he liked the preserves. It was really a nice accompaniment to the turkey and has officially turned me into a cranberry believer. I gave away 6 of 7 jars to family members (had to keep one for myself so I could share it with you all!).
The inspiration for these preserves was Hima's Can It Up project over at All Four Burners. Each month Hima announces an ingredient and all who are interested make a recipe featuring that ingredient that can be water bath canned. Without Hima's pick of cranberries for November, I'm not so sure I would have taken the cranberry plunge. Cranberries in the raw are extremely tart and somewhat bitter so I've always been hesitant to use them. But I'm so glad I looked past that. A little sugar (okay, a lot of sugar) and some other fruit transform these tart rubies into something really special. So if you have a cranberry phobia, I encourage you to give these little beauties a try. It would make a nice addition to your Christmas menu.
I have a sneaking feeling these preserves will become another new Thanksgiving tradition right alongside those cinnamon rolls.
Cranberry Orange Preserves
from The Ginger Snap Girl
6 cups whole fresh cranberries
4 cups apples, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (I used honeycrisp, but you could use any combination)
2/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
2/3 cup water
4 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Zest of 2 oranges (about 1 packed full tablespoon)
Add all ingredients to a large pot and cook on medium, stirring frequently, until the mixture simmers. Turn the heat to medium low and continue cooking until fruit is very soft and slightly thickened (this took about 20-30 minutes for me). I like my preserves to have a smooth texture, so I used an immersion blender to puree the mixture prior to canning. To check if your preserves have reached the right consistency, spoon a dollop onto a small plate and place the plate in the freezer for a couple of minutes. Remove the plate from the freezer and turn it on its side. If the preserves slide right down and look runny, you probably want to continue cooking. If they hold their shape and only slide a little, you're good to go.
To can your preserves, prepare jars, lids and rings by washing them with hot soapy water and rinse thoroughly. Once you start cooking your preserves, fill a pot with enough water to fully submerge all the jars and turn heat to high (note I use the same pot for preheating the jars as I do for the actual water bath). Heating the jars allows you to ladle in the hot preserves without cracking the jars. In small pan also heat your lids. Have a clean ladle and tongs ready. Once your preserves are done cooking, remove a jar from the hot water with your tongs and drain excess water. Hold the jar with a kitchen towel while you ladle in the preserves. Fill jars leaving a 1/4 inch of head space. Use your tongs to carefully lift a lid out of the hot water and place it on top of the jar. Screw on the outer ring until firmly snug, but not too tight. Set aside on a clean kitchen towel and repeat the process, filling all your jars. Bring your canning pot of water up to a boil and submerge each jar in the water using tongs. Make sure jars are covered by at least 2 inches of water. Boil for 10 minutes. Remove jars from water and set on a kitchen towel to rest, undisturbed for 24 hours.
Makes 7 half pint jars