Cranberry Sauce

When Rob and I were dating, I didn't know much about cooking which was definitely to his benefit. I recall being quite impressed that he knew how to make cranberry sauce and even added orange juice to the dish. How creative! I thought. He could read a package and boil water and I thought this was cooking excellence. Flash-forward a handful of years and, yeah, that was the extent of his culinary mastery. The man is lucky to have all of his fingers intact with that knife technique.

As everyone but my 20-something self knows, cranberry sauce is easy. The key is to find the right balance of sweet and tart to suit your palate. The challenge I've had over the years is that sweetening cranberry sauce exclusively with sugar leaves a flavor gap - the sauce is either distinctly tart or too sweet without anything in the middle to round things out. After several experiments, I've come up with a recipe that compliments the turkey without clubbing you over the head with a sugar cube. I consider this "base level" sweetness that can be adjusted up to suit your needs.

How to Buy, Cook, and Reduce the Bitterness of Brussels Sprouts

I prefer the flavor of roasted or fried Brussels sprouts over braised since the former is firm, caramelized, and nutty rather than bitter. I decided to ask The Google if there was some food science behind my preference. As it turns out, human genetics, crop breeding, and cooking technique all play a role in our palate's response to Brussels sprouts. I pulled together some interesting useless facts for this post along with a simple roasting recipe.

Brussels sprouts are part of the Thanksgiving timeline as noted at the bottom of this post.

How to Roast Chestnuts

Over the weekend I decided to cook a full turkey dinner with all the fixings. I called it "Thanksgiving planning" as a thinly veiled excuse to eat copious amounts of carbohydrates and butter. That being said, it definitely helps to assess and organize the turkey day timeline. In the interest of being a mise en place rockstar, I'm going to try and document my make-ahead recipes and day-by-day breakdown here on the blog. My cooking schedule will be at the bottom of the next few posts to maintain continuity and updates (several older recipes are linked below).

First up, chestnuts. Step away from the jarred stuff.

Chestnuts from Root's Country Market - Lancaster, PA

Pilgrimage to Tartine Bakery

I'm a big fan of Tartine Bakery as well the affiliated cookbooks (here and here). I happened to be in Palo Alto last week and decided to drive into the city for a quick visit to carbohydrate heaven. The main mission: To purchase the OG country loaf that inspired my fixation on baking bread.

The key to buying a country loaf from Tartine is to pre-order it 24-72 hours in advance. They only make a limited amount of bread each day so there's no guarantee for walk-ins. Since loaves come out of the oven around 4:30pm, I went early and ate/bought pretty much everything in the bakery while I waited. My game knows no shame.

I've included some bread nerd notes at the bottom of this post.