Gluten-Free Buttery Biscuits

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As you know, I have a number of friends and family who live off a gluten-free diet, and as such I’ve been tinkering with gluten-free cooking for several years now. I have not yet, however, used actual gluten-free all-purpose flour, preferring most of the time to mix my own. So this landmark recipe is the first time I’ve tried it out – I picked up some Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free flour and gave it a whirl. The recipe is more or less the same as the Quick Drop Biscuits I make all the time, so I kind of made it on autopilot and forgot to take a bunch of pictures – my bad.

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As penance for the lack of process shots you get Grenadier, in the backyard. This is a writing/photo technique I like to call GRATUITOUS DOG FILLER. You’re welcome.

Preheat your oven to 425° F and start with 1 3/4 cup gluten-free flour. The flour package recommends adding xanthan gum to the flour when baking, so I added in 2 teaspoons xanthan gum. Add to that 1 tablespoon baking powder and 1 teaspoon fine salt.

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Then cut in 6 tablespoons cold butter and use a pastry blender to mix it in until you get a lovely crummy consistency.

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Because the all-purpose flour (this brand at least), seems to taste a bit like beans, I needed a strong flavour to combat that so I added in 2 tablespoons Newfoundland savoury and 1 cup grated cheddar cheese.

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Add to that 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup heavy cream (hey, if you skimp on the gluten you gotta overindulge somewhere else, right?).

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Stir it until it’s a sticky cohesive mass. Use a table spoon to plop balls of that onto an ungreased baking sheet. This will make about 18 golf ball-sized biscuits that won’t expand much, so you can crowd them all on the same pan.

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Bake for 12-15 minutes until they are a nice golden brown and remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Like most gluten-free stuff, they’re best eaten the day they’re made.

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Wingin’ It Wednesday: Chicken Soup with Rice

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This is a “quick” soup in that I didn’t spend all day simmering it on the stove, but it still took a little bit of time, as all good soups do. I was cleaning out the freezer when I found a bag of 5 chicken drumsticks that needed something done to them, so I dragged them out, defrosted them, and dusted them with salt and pepper in a baking dish.

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I roasted them at 350°F for about 40 minutes.

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Make sure that the juices are running clear and the flesh is cooked all the way through. Soup that gives you salmonella is not good soup.

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I let them cool, then pulled all the meat off the bones and set the meat aside in a bowl for a while.

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I took all the skin and bones and chucked them into a large pot with some concentrated chicken broth and about 8 cups water and I let that simmer for about an hour.

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Then I used a slotted spoon to remove the skin and bones from the pot.

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I grabbed myself some vegetables. You always need vegetables in soup.

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I also had about 2 cups cooked brown rice leftover from a canine digestive issue that needed getting rid of.

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Flickr would not let me upload this picture until I cropped it and added contrast and vignetting. Apparently an unedited picture of leftover rice does not count as a valid photo to the Flickr Uploadr people.

All the goodness in your carrots is in the skin, so if you’re putting them in a soup, consider just giving them a good scrubbing instead of peeling them, then slice them up. Three carrots went under the knife for this recipe.

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Green onions, on the other hand, are cleanest if you remove all the outer layers and wash them thoroughly. I used 2 green onions here.

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I only used half an onion in this recipe, because I wasn’t making that much soup. Did you know that an onion is less likely to make you cry if it’s come out of the fridge? The cold slows down the chemical reaction that releases the eye irritant into the air.

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I chucked all the vegetables and rice into the steamy broth and then diced up the chicken meat before chucking it in as well.

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My compost bin earned some new additions.

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Let the soup simmer for about 20 minutes, until the vegetables are softened, and then serve it hot. Possibly with biscuits. It’s up to you.

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S’mores Cookie Bars

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We’re having a beautiful fall, where it’s nice and crisp at night but during the day it’s glorious and sunny. So I can still pretend it’s summer with a summery dish. Right? Right. The Crockpot Gourmet has this kid-pleasing concoction that I knew would be a hit at a family potluck, so I gave it a whirl. Or at least, I thought about it. I REALLY want to make this in the crock pot. Because I think it would be the ultimate in awesome. The problem is that my crock pot is very narrow and deep and would not work at all for making cookie bars. So I modified the cooking technique a little bit in order to do this in the oven. And then, because I could, I also modified the recipe by playing around with the proportions and taking out some of the sugar.

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I got very excited because I had to buy Teddy Grahams for this recipe. I haven’t had those little cookies since I was a kid. I couldn’t find the actual brand name ones for this but I found the generic equivalent and I think it was probably passable in any case.

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Start by preheating your oven to 350°F and then butter a 9″ x 13″ baking dish and line it with parchment paper.

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In a small bowl, whisk together 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup cocoa, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.

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In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together 1 cup butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar,  and 1/2 cup granulated sugar until it’s super fluffy.

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Then, add in 3 large eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla and beat that up as well. Start adding in your flour mixture, too, a little at a time.

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I ended up adding about 2 tablespoons cream, just to make the whole thing a bit more cakey.

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Smear your dough into the baking dish and smooth it out.

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Now sprinkle about 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips over the surface.

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Add to that about 1 1/2 cups honey Teddy Grahams.

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Then about 30 marshmallows.

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Tent some aluminum foil over top so it covers the container but doesn’t touch the marshmallows. This will keep them from burning.

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Bake the whole thing for about 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out almost clean.

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Remove the foil and set the dish on a wire rack to cool completely.

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I think I might add more marshmallows next time, considering how much they disappeared.

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This Teddy Graham survived. Mostly.

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Slice the whole thing up into pieces and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

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Sick People Tea

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Atlas taught me a version of this simple tea and I make it every time I come down with a cold. I find that it really helps. The name is not very appealing, but it’s descriptive: tea for sick people. And this past week the Pie and I were very sick people indeed.

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Take a lemon and slice it thinly, discarding the ends. You’ll probably only want to use half the slices, so put the others away until you need them for the next pot of tea. Slice up a small knob of ginger. Grab a couple teaspoons of fresh or dried oregano as well.

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Dump all those in your teapot. If you’re me, you’ll spill oregano all over the teapot and be lucky that most of it ends up inside. Use the end of a spoon or a muddler to squish up the lemon and ginger a bit.

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Boil some water and pour it over top.

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Let it steep for a few minutes. While it’s doing that, you should probably clean up the oregano you spilled everywhere.

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Pour and sip (yes, I still have my touque-tastic tea cozy). You can add honey if it’s too much for you to handle, but that’s up to you. Feel better!

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SideBar: White North

by Trav

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The Pie’s favourite cocktail is a White Russian—cream, coffee liqueur, and vodka—so I decided that on his birthday this year, I would ply him with some variations on the original recipe. The Dirty Russian, which uses chocolate milk instead of cream, was really gross, because we picked up a thin, low-sugar chocolate milk that tasted of chalk. I also found a recipe for a White Canadian, which is vaguely offensive and also very strange; it substitutes goat’s milk for cream. How is a goat particularly Canadian? They could’ve at least suggested moose milk.

But anyway, we got to wondering—what substitution would actually make for a Canadian variant? In a booze-soaked fit of genius, I realized there was a perfectly Canadian drink that could replace the Russian vodka: Sortilège, a maple whisky.

I enjoy a bit of Sortilège straight, but I’ve been trying to find a good mixing use for it, and this one turned out even better than I’d hoped.

We hemmed and hawed about the name for a while, since the “White Canadian” is 1) terrible and 2) already taken. I believe Ali came up with the “Great White North,” and I suggested we shorten it to “White North” to make it clear it’s a variation on a White Russian.

I played with the ratios a bit, given the different base spirit, and I think this is the most pleasing recipe:

2 oz cream (use either full-on 35% cream, or 18% table cream)
1.5 oz Sortilège maple whisky
1 oz coffee liqueur (e.g. Kahlua or Tia Maria)

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Put some ice cubes in an old fashioned glass or tumbler, and then pour in the Sortilège and coffee liqueur.

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Then, gently and slowly, pour the cream over the mixture. It should float a bit, especially if you’re using the higher-fat cream. If you really want clear layers, try pouring slowly over the back of a spoon.

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Most people tend to mix it all together, though.

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And that’s it. Very simple, and really tasty. Even people who aren’t whisky drinkers will love it.

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The From-Scratch-iest Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Some day I’m gonna be super hardcore, growing my own pumpkins in my magic pumpkin patch and harvesting my own gluten-free flour from the enormous gluten-free flour tree on my massive acreage. Until then, however, I will acquire all my ingredients from fairies, just like everyone else. Or the grocery store. Whichever is more convenient.

Still, there’s a certain satisfaction to be garnered from taking a thing from the absolute start to its completion. For me, for now, that means making things as from scratch as I possibly can. And for this particular recipe, that means pie crust from scratch and pumpkin that I slaughtered and roasted myself. Don’t question my wording on that. Have you ever cut up a pumpkin? Yes, “slaughter” is appropriate.

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Let’s start with that, shall we? Look at these beautiful pumpkins. These are NOT carving pumpkins. They are sugar pumpkins or pie pumpkins, specifically grown for their tender sweetness and exactly the sort of thing you want to dismember and roast for this pie.

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Give them a good washing to remove any dirt.

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Preheat your oven to 350°F and grab yourself a nice big rimmed cookie sheet or baking dish.

Decapitate your pumpkin by gently sawing off its stem.

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Cleave the pumpkin in two vertically.

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Eviscerate your pumpkin by scooping out the seeds and guts. You can wash and dry the seeds for roasting later on. They’re very good for you but may make you a little gassy. Just sayin’.

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Brush the fleshy surfaces of the pumpkin with vegetable oil. If you’re roasting this pumpkin for savoury purposes, then you would probably dust it with salt and pepper as well, but we’re using it for un-savoury purposes (as in, sweet, not nefarious), so you probably shouldn’t do that.

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Place the pumpkin halves face-down on the baking sheet and let that roast for about 45-60 minutes (depending on your pumpkin size). If you want this whole thing to go faster, then cut the pumpkin into smaller pieces.

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When the pumpkin is done the whole thing can be stabbed easily with a sharp knife.

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While that is baking, try to figure out how to scrub the residue off your hands. It’s harder than you think.

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Let the pumpkins cool a little bit so you don’t burn yourself, then scoop out the flesh and discard the skins.

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I ate some toasted pumpkin seeds while I waited for the pumpkin to cool a little bit more.

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I puréed the pumpkin flesh in a food processor to make it extra smooth.

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Because fresh pumpkin is more watery than canned pumpkin, you might want to drain it a bit. These mesh bags are actually for picking produce at the farmer’s market, but they’re also perfect strainers for thick substances like mashed pumpkin.

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I ended up with about 4 cups pumpkin goo, which is pretty much exactly what I needed for two pies. I shoved it in the fridge for a couple of days before I made the pie.

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Now for the crust, which I prepped the night before I made the pie. Gluten-free pie dough still needs to rest, just the same as regular pie dough, so that the flour can absorb all the liquid properly. This recipe, adapted from Martha Stewart, makes one pie shell bottom, so I did it twice.

As with regular pie crust, you still want all your ingredients to be ice cold when you work with them, and you want to handle them as little as possible.

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Start by whisking together 1/2 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup white rice flour, 1 teaspoon xanthan gum, and 2 teaspoons castor/superfine sugar in a small bowl.

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As well, assemble a small pitcher of ice water. Cube 1/2 cup cold butter and put that in a bowl as well. Finally, crack 1 large egg into another bowl and scramble it a little. Shove the water and the egg into the fridge and the butter and flour into the freezer for at least 15 minutes.

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When you’re ready to go, dump your flour and your butter into the bowl of your food processor.

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Pulse the dough until the butter forms little pea-sized crumbs.

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Tip in the egg, as well as 1-2 tablespoons ice water and pulse until the dough clumps together.

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I would err on the side of less water as opposed to more. In this batch I think I added 2 tablespoons water and you can see it’s very sticky (gluten-free dough will be stickier by nature, but not this sticky).

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So the next time round I used less water and got this more crumbly dough.

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Squish your dough into a patty and wrap it in plastic. Let it chill in the fridge for at least an hour, preferably three hours, at best, overnight.

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When you’re ready to roll (literally), place a piece of waxed paper on your work surface and lightly dust it with gluten-free flour. Plop your dough patty down and dust that with flour as well.

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Place another sheet of waxed paper over top and carefully use a rolling pin to spread out your dough. Work from the inside out, and flip it over and lift up the waxed paper as often as possible so it doesn’t stick in weird wrinkles.

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When you’re ready to plop the dough into your 12″ pie pan, remember that the dough will stick more to the waxed paper than regular dough, so you might want to chill it a bit beforehand.

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Trim and crimp the edges as usual and chuck it back in the fridge.

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If you’re only making one pie, then halve the ingredients for the filling, but if you’re making two (because really, why not make two?), then here’s how you do it. In a large bowl, whisk together 4 cups pumpkin purée, 3 300mL cans sweetened condensed milk (900mL total), 4 large eggs, and 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice.

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Nice and smooth and sweet!

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Pour the filling into your two shells and carefully shove them into the oven (preheated to 425°F) on the same rack, if possible. Bake for 15 minutes at 425°F, then reduce the heat to 350°F and bake for another 35-45 minutes.

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They will be done when the middle is almost set and you can jab a knife into the filling about an inch from the crust and it comes out clean.

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Set those on a rack to cool completely, then EAT!

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Citrus Chipotle Cranberry Sauce? Believe it.

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I made a fancy cranberry sauce for Christmas last year but for some reason I didn’t blog it. This year for Thanksgiving (13 October in Canada) I wanted something a little spicier (but not much spicier) than the traditional sauce, so I thought that this would be a good bloggable opportunity, and I modified this recipe I found on Epicurious (originally of Bon Appétit) to do it. The result is a delightfully rich cranberry sauce with a hint of savoury and garlic and a smoky after taste. It’s truly amazeballs (yes, that is the technical term).

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Start with 2 dried chipotle chillies. Super dried. Gross.

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Plop those in a medium saucepan filled with water and bring it to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let those chillies soak up the hot water for an hour to an hour and a half, depending on how dried out they are. You want to be able to mince them in the end. Your house will smell like chipotle for like forever, just a warning. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

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Grab yourself an orange and a lemon and zest them.

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I used a small rasp to get most of the zest but I used one of the fancy kinds for cocktails to get a bit of rind for colour.

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Juice the lemon while you’re at it and save the juice. Eat the orange because it’s good for you. DO IT.

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When the chillies are soft, drain them and then plop them in another pot with 24oz fresh cranberries (that’s two of the standard bags you get at the grocery store), the lemon and orange zest and lemon juice, 3/4 cup dried diced apricots (optional but worth it), and about 2 cups sugar. I actually saved a splash of the chipotle water and added it in as well, probably about 2-3 tablespoons.

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Heat that over medium, stirring, until the sugar is all dissolved.

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Now, you’re supposed to keep the chillies in there until the end and then take them out, stem and deseed them, and then plop them back in. But my chillies were so soft they started falling apart almost immediately.

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So I took out the bits of chipotle earlier, minced them (which was easier than I thought it would be, considering how hard they used to be), and added them back in. A few stray seeds made it in as well but there’s no harm in that.

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Keep cooking the berries, stirring occasionally now, until they start to softly POP open (it’s a delightful noise, I promise). Stir in 2 teaspoons minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin.

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Keep stirring that until the sauce starts to thicken a bit and you can tell that the flavours have all gotten to know each other. Then you can remove it from the heat and let it cool.

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Chill the cranberry sauce for up to one week before it’s needed. It also freezes fantastically.

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I actually hope this lasts until Thanksgiving Monday. The Pie and I keep scooping out bites of it with a spoon.

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adventures in grown-up living

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