Friday, December 6, 2013

Hope and Sugared Cranberries

Christmas cheer is in full swing, even here in the desert.  The stockings are hung by our chimney with care, our tree gives a soft glow every evening, and our little fireplace dances.  The temperatures have dropped down to freezing -- my Boston-bred husband couldn't even stay out long tonight.  But it makes it all seem much more cozy and festive.

We've been doing a little advent reading every night, just to remember the magic and wonder of Christmas before it slips away.  I love the idea of advent, of waiting, hoping, anticipating.  Advent - "coming."  He is coming.  The whole world sparkles with it this time of year.

I've been thinking about hope a lot lately, which is appropriate since on the first week of advent we light the hope candle.  When we feel disappointed, broken, lost, bored - hope gives us reason to sing.  Someday, somehow, things will be made right.

I took a drive this week into Phoenix to pick up something I purchased on Instagram.  Honestly, it opened a whole new world to me, new neighborhoods, new people, new adventures to be had.  And just like that, another candle lit, another little light of hope that life can flourish here in the desert.

A new addition to our gallery wall (and I am in LOVE with it).  "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." - Hebrews 6:19

In the spirit of making Christmas feel all the more Christmasy, I made some sugared cranberries this week.  If you're looking to get a lot of bang for your Christmas buck, this is the project for you.  These are SO easy to make, are completely addicting (and also probably fairly bad for you), and look  festive and beautiful on the table.  

The original recipe for these is from Cooking Light.  But it's easy enough that I can write it from memory after making it once.  All you need is:

2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 cups fresh cranberries (I got mine from Trader Joe's)
3/4 cup superfine sugar (or regular sugar that you ran through

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan.  Heat on medium, stirring every so often, until all the sugar is dissolved.  Bring it to a simmer, but not to a boil, then remove it from the heat.  
Pour in the cranberries and stir to coat.  Pour the whole mixture into a large bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight (or 8 hours, or in my case, about 24 hours because I didn't get around to the next part until then).

Drain the cranberries.  Bonus: save the water and use it as a holiday sweetener in cocktails, coffee, etc!  Easy and delicious cranberry simple syrup.

Pour the superfine sugar onto a plate and roll the cranberries through it a few at a time.  Place them on a baking sheet to dry at room temperature for about an hour.  

Then pour into a pretty bowl and enjoy!  If you can keep from eating them all first.  They have a perfect, crisp little pop when you bit into them, and a delightful combination of sweet and tart.  I can't get enough.

In fact, I think I'll go have a few now.  

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