Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cranberry Orange Relish

Just in time for Thanksgiving, I will post a most excellent cranberry relish recipe that has become a staple around the holidays at our house.  I got the recipe through daughter Lindsey after I tasted it at her house a couple of years ago.  No more canned stuff for me.  Enjoy!

1 bag of fresh cranberries (4 cups or so)
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup water
1 whole orange, unpeeled, seeds removed
½ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup crushed pineapple, drained
Rinse cranberries and set aside.  Bring sugar and water to a boil.  Meanwhile, place orange (I cut it into several sections first) into food processor and process the smithereens out of it.  The original recipe said to chop it fine, but I figure who wants to get a chunk of orange peel in their first bite?  Add this pureed orange substance, cranberries and spices to boiling sugar water and simmer over high flame, stirring frequently, until berries pop open.  This took the better part of an hour for mine.  Stir in crushed pineapple.  Cool and serve with your turkey.  The next day smear on your bread when you make your turkey sandwich.  It’s also good served on scones for breakfast.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Joy (three)

Many of you know that I celebrate the entire month of November as my birthday month.  I never understood the philosophy of "Don't make a fuss over my birthday....it's just like any other day."  Where the heck does that come from?  Why not celebrate that we are alive?  Why not stand up and cheer that we have lived another year?  I jump up and down and announce that it's my birthday to anyone who will listen. 

To that end, I hosted a birthday celebration weekend.  Daughter, Aubrey came with her husband Brad who is recently back from Iraq.   

They brought grandsons Jake and Christian. 

Making chicken soup
 Youngest son, Casey and his wife Kylene also came with Miss Margot in tow. 

And as a bonus, Noel's daughter Lisa brought our new little grandson, Luca. 

Champagne poached salmon with vanilla sauce...yum!!!

We prepared and ate tons of food, Aubrey made a cake that took hours of work and was sprinkled with lots of love, Kylene cooked some kick-ass chicken soup and we even had a wine-tasting (the bottle of wine cost more than fifteen whole dollars!) 

Pumpkin brandy cake
I put out my beads and jewelry stuff and everyone made me a special piece of jewelry. 

As you can see, Aubrey and I practiced using our new cameras.

Jake and Aubrey

Games were played, books were read, hands were warmed by the fire and the sound of laughter and children's squeals of delight rose to the rafters. 
Margot and her Uncle Brad

Noel getting some baby snuggles

In other words, it was a simply perfect birthday.  Good food, handmade jewelry, grandchildren's laughter...these simple things bring me infinite joy.

Here's wishing you and yours a simply joyful holiday season.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates

As is her custom at this time of year, my sister-in-law Joey has been busy constructing a new, incredibly creative, exceedingly bulky, contest-winning costume.  It’s always a treat to see what she will dream up.  How she gets these ideas is beyond me, but I suspect they are often fueled by too little sleep and too much coffee.  I’d been wondering for several weeks what her offering for 2011 might be, but I’ve learned not to ask.  It’s often a secret.  Besides that, I like to be surprised come Halloween night. 
But, the surprise we were handed this Halloween was not about her costume.  Instead, her early morning call last week was about her dear husband Bruce.  It seems that he had returned from a weekend of hunting and went to bed, knowing that he needed to rise early in the morning for work.  But, about two o’clock in the morning, he awoke with tingling arms.  He tried to walk it off and took some aspirin, but he wasn’t any better.  He woke Joey who wisely rushed him to the emergency room at the local Whitefish hospital.  He walked in under his own power, but right there and then on the emergency room table he experienced a full-blown, massive and very terrible heart attack.  To the horror of the attending personnel and his loving wife, his heart stopped beating.  I can only imagine the frantic moments that ensued.  Joey can’t describe it without choking up.  She tries to tell us how the doctor said, “We’re losing him!”  She tries to tell us how the nurse and doctor had to shock his heart back to life.  They attempted once, twice, again, again, and yet again.  Each time his body rising off the table and falling lifelessly back.  Another nurse hugged Joey as they prayed for Bruce.  There’s a limit, you know to the number of times they can do this shock treatment.  There’s a limit to the number of joules of energy a body can stand, a limit to the number of shocks; a limit to the recovery a heart can make.  But, apparently there wasn’t a limit to the number of angels who filled the room as the nurses and doctor worked.  And then, on the sixth try…his heart started beating again.  A frenzied ambulance trip to a hospital in Kalispell ensued and an emergency ‘stent’ placement to free the flow of blood and keep the blood vessel open was performed.  The entire episode was over in an hour…one quick, yet agonizingly slow hour.
Bruce is recovering now.  He doesn’t say much, but his gratitude at this chance to live longer on this earth is evident.  His eyes are a bit softer, his voice is more thoughtful; his hugs a little longer.  He has nothing but praise for those who saved his life, including his wife.

Well, we did go out “Halloweening” with Joey Monday night.  Bruce wasn’t able to come with us, but we celebrated with gusto, partly on his behalf.  I shake my head in wonder as I recall Joey’s costume that she has been constructing for days before Bruce’s heart attack. 
She was a walking box of chocolates.  As she twisted this way and that to show off all sides of her box, she said, “It’s just like Forrest Gump said, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you’re gonna get.’”

Well, she’s right.  We don’t ever know what life has in store.  It’s always a good reminder that as much as we plan, scheme, dream and cling to our routines, that we don’t really have any idea of what tomorrow will bring, or if, indeed we will have any tomorrows. 
I’m just very grateful and happy to say that our little box of chocolates here in northwest Montana still contains Bruce.  He’s a gentle, loving, talented and loyal soul.  If you don’t know him, you’re missing out.  I’m also grateful that Joey chose him as her particular “sweet” years ago.  It’s pretty obvious that she is still very happy with her choice. 

We are too, Joey.  We are too.

Noel, Joey (she's under there...trust me) and me