She swirled the cranberries in a sink full of water, picking out any that were soft, removing leaves and stems, and letting the inevitable crop of stones settle to the bottom. When she thought she'd finished picking them over, she scooped out the berries, one handful at a time, and placed them into a medium pot, finding a few more stems in the process. She grated the zest from two oranges on top of the berries, and squeezed the juice and pulp over that.
The sugar was next; this was always a guessing game. She added about half a cup; that was never quite enough, but it was better to start tart. After adding enough port wine to cover the berries, she turned on a medium flame and began stirring. She brought the liquid to a slow boil, and turned down the flame to keep it there.
As the berries darkened and popped, the sauce began to thicken. Stirring constantly, she amused herself by smashing the deep red berries against the side of the pot with her spoon. When all the berries had darkened and the sauce was thick, she tasted it; lips puckering, she gradually added more sugar, one spoonful at a time, stirring all the while, until it was just barely sweet enough.
She took the pot off the fire and went on to her next task.
© 2008 Cynthia Newcomer Daniel
Seed beads. Hand fabricated princess length collar using off-loom techniques.