Is anybody else suffering from a giant Christmas hangover?

I mean figuratively, of course. And literally. Or however else you might be able to relate to that utter exhaustion one feels at the end of the holiday season after dealing with family and presents and hosting and baking and christmasmaking and crazy amounts of cookies (and maybe booze) and all the stuff that creates an experience both wonderful and terrible and sometimes even overwhelming. It's the fucking holidays.

Now, thankfully, it's all winding down and we have New Year's, my very favorite holiday, fast approaching. It's the perfect time to scan the fridge, make sure you aren't hanging onto anything that will surely rot or mold if not used immediately, and just make something. Spend an hour in the kitchen using your hands. It's the best. 

My Christmas hangover ingredient is cranberries. They are never around for more than a couple of months, so I always buy more cranberries than I need while they're still selling them in the markets. I also really love cranberries! They are so unbelievably tart and so vibrantly hued. They occupy a special place in my heart where my love for rhubarb also lives. 

So for the love of maintaining sanity during this completely insane time of year, and for the love of cranberries, I give you: 

Aren't they pretty? We love to use the sweet and tart brine for salad dressing or as a cocktail mixer (kinda like a shrub!) with a few berries as garnish. We also served these alongside some beignets for our Christmas breakfast and the combination proved quite delicious. I have a sneaking suspicion that they would taste excellent with some duck confit over a big salad. Or, they make a real nice addition to a cheese plate.

Spiced, Pickled Cranberries
adapted from Saveur
9 4-oz jars

3 cups sugar
3 cups apple cider vinegar
2 sticks cinnamon (soft Mexican canela, if you can get it)
½ teaspoon whole allspice 
½ teaspoon whole cloves
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
1 ½ lbs fresh cranberries,  rinsed & picked through
½ tsp Kosher salt

In a medium saucepan, bring sugar, vinegar, and cinnamon to a boil. Cook, stirring often, until sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients to saucepan and cook, stirring occasionally, until cranberries start to pop open, about five minutes. Allow to cool, slightly, and remove cinnamon stick with a slotted spoon. Break into 9 pieces and divide between your jars. Divide cranberries and spices evenly into each jar and store in the refrigerator, or preserve using the hot water bath canning method. Allow to cure 2 weeks before enjoying.

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