Saturday, December 9, 2006

Forgetting the Cranberry Chutney

D. and I decided to spend Thanksgiving away from family and friends at my friends’ country house in Pennsylvania. Neither one of us was up for any family drama, and we were anxious for some time out of the city. The house is beautiful—my friend is an architect and he remodeled an old house that sits right on a small river. You can hear the river rushing by in the morning through closed windows, and a group of wild turkeys often come to visit. He brought his guitar, and I packed tons of cooking supplies to create our feast. But before heading up there, we decided to stop and visit his mother. This would be the first time I would meet her, and I was excited about it, up until the day before we were leaving. I turned into a nervous wreck. Didn’t know what to wear, wasn’t sure what to do with my hair, etc. etc. D. told me that she was nervous, too.

Just after dark the day before Thanksgiving, we pulled up in front of her house and D. looked at me reassuringly. We got out and went into the back seat to pull out the dried flower and herb centerpiece we’d bought for her at the Farmer’s Market, and the jar of cranberry chutney I’d carefully prepared days before. No cranberry chutney. I’d forgotten to bring down the canvas bag with the chutney for his mother, our chutney for the next day, a bag of onions, and a bottle of Jose Cuervo Gold Tequila—which we’d planned to drink as an appetizer while we cooked the next day. D. was not perfectly chill about it—he didn’t understand how, despite all of my lists, which included such obvious things as his guitar and the massive turkey in a cooler, I could have forgotten the chutney. But he was ultimately pretty forgiving. As for the visit with his mother, it was lovely. She was so grateful for the centerpiece, and just insisted that I send her the recipe.

After a few hours, we got back on the road to the house. On the way, though, we had to stop for onions, Tequila, and, of course, the makings for cranberry chutney: celery, raisins, cranberries, vinegar, sugar, cloves, cinnamon, apples, and ginger.

It was terrific with our Thanksgiving dinner of roast turkey, pureed cauliflower (instead of mashed potatoes), glazed baby carrots, brussel sprouts, sausage and cranberry cornbread stuffing, wheat rolls, and butternut squash soup. And it was great on sandwiches the next day!

Last night I made dinner for my friend who had spent the day painting two rooms in my apartmen, and his girlfriend who used to be a caterer. I marinated three pork chops from the local butcher with olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh rosemary and thyme. I pan-seared them, and then baked them in the oven, and served them with garlicky spinach, brown wehani rice, and side garnishes of my homemade applesauce and cranberry chutney. The chutney was the star again. (By the way, the dinner went well with a bottle of Punto Final Malbec (Argentina).

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