14 December 2008

A very non-fictional story

Hello Friends!
I am sorry I don't want to bore you, but jinx discussion is on today's agenda (with a bonus, in the end). To minimize your feeling unease and so, here is my promise: I’ll keep it short - I’ll have a dash.

There are many different types of jinx. The NON-fictional story that follows is one of such.

Let’s start by saying you are invited for a party, or rather a pot luck dinner with friends. Your expected contribution is an assortment of bite-sized pastries: canales, macarons, rocher coco’s. What’s more, you want to look charming, even foxy. However, your intentions are ethereal illusions - that much unworldly, in other words. Because when you leave a bakery with a small box of grand treasure in your hands, you do a slightly unwise thing. Namely, you let your feet slide sideways and next think you know is that you are on the ground: bottom up, face down – so un-foxy. What’s even worse, you ruined your desserts: unforgiveable. A jinx.
You pull yourself – I mean literally – together and nonchalantly come back to the bakery which you left just a few minutes ago, if at that. You order the same assortment of pastries and avoid any eye contact with the bakers at the moment, who restrain themselves from asking you, ‘Gluttony: revisited?’ Oh, never mind.

Very consciously you walk back home to change. You still want to look charmingly foxy.

Finally, you set out – again, make a few more steps and feel how something with a ‘schlep’ sound gracefully lands on your head, that is, a black beret you are wearing. A large bird’s solid matter. A very big jinx.

At this point in the proceedings you are done. You call up your friends and say you are not joining them because you feel somewhat shitty, which is decidedly true.

As a new day arrives, you are hopeful and optimistic again. Bottomless optimism notwithstanding, a thick, grey cloud will appear on a horizon quite soon though: later upon the morning you will learn that your bicycle has been stolen, your ‘Harley’ of sorts. (Digression: at times when I happen to own a bicycle I always call it ‘my Harley’).

Now, you are tempted to be hateful. But after a quick consideration you change your mind: somebody is already so steeped to gills in their own bullshit that there is no point for you to add up to the collective misery, what with your ‘hateful-ness’. Instead, you say ‘jinx, jinx, jinx’ and let go.

Fine. Although hateful I wasn’t, I got upset nonetheless, almost whiney: I let my mind brood over those good times we had, my bicycle and me. For that reason – being near-hateful and heavily upset, I also became slightly devilish in my kitchen: I made a cranberry chutney with white wine vinegar and orange rind. Plus, I had it with salmon. And that’s the story: that’s the tears and then the pleasure.

A few words on cranberries. I know I only recently praised cranberries and such; you certainly have all the rights to raise your eyebrows and say, ‘Again?, with a high-pitched voice and all. But what else would you do if you still had a bag of fresh cranberries in your fridge (even after you made this and loved it!) and a trip off to Russia come Friday? (I am going to visit my parents and other family for Christmas, New Year’s, and again Christmas, Orthodox style, which is Russian too.)

Now would you please be so kind to listen? Please. White wine (red, too) vinegar knows a thing about cranberries, I reckon, because they are so good together (not to mention the colour, the deep ruby red!). ‘He’ is acid, ‘she’ is sour and astringent: a good match, especially if tended to by orange rind, cane sugar and a splash of lemon juice, for good measure. Normally I would never think of adding vinegar to cranberries, but I was upset and all that (ruined pastries first; then there was a bird, and a bicycle stolen, to crown it all), you understand. The final product, however, makes me truly chuffed. Very much so.

Cranberry chutney with white wine vinegar and orange

You’ll need:

3 cups fresh cranberries
2 cups water
juice of ½ lemon
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 Tsp white (or red) wine vinegar
orange rind or zest (from ½ orange)

What you do is basically you mix everything up (this is when you are upset), bring to a boil and immediately turn to a simmer for 30 mins or until desired consistency.
Although, a sort of an order in which the ingredients march into a saucepan shall not do your chutney any harm. That is, first, in a medium cast-iron saucepan, you dissolve sugar and lemon juice in water, add cranberries and bring the mixture to a boil.
Next: you turn the heat low, add the vinegar and orange rind (now, as I think of it, zest will be just fine, too), and allow it to simmer (uncovered) for 30 mins or so. (As vinegar evaporates, it might be a bit of an attack to the cook’s nose, what with slightly acid fumes and such. However, it passes quickly giving a way to a very interesting combination of flavours.)

As with any other chutneys, this one can also be served with sweet or savoury dishes. Like I said I served it with salmon (the fish took up to it as much as I did!). (And am obviously going to enjoy it on a piece of brioche, in yogurt, with cheese on days to come - the recipe yielded a good 2 cups cranberry chutney, that is why).


Cinnamonda said...

Oh, I'm so sorry to hear you had such jinxed days! The way you told about it all made me laugh, though. So, thank you for another great story & I hope from the bottom of my heart that the jinx has already been lifted, so to speak. And the chutney recipe is just lovely! I think, I simply must go and try to find some cranberries now... I absolutely want to try this.


anya said...

Dear Tiina, thank you for your inspiring note! Sometimes our own misery deserves a good belly laugh!

Please, let me know what you think of the chutney (in case, a) you still wish to make it, and b) you can find some cranberries). You might want to adjust sugar or vinegar amounts; taste as you go and decide what's right for you.

Toni said...

I love the way you tell your story... It feels rotten at the time, but you've transformed it with humor. Love it!!

Your cranberry relish is very much like the cranberry sauce I make for Thanksgiving. The only difference is that I don't use vinegar. But I love this dish!!

Cookiemouse said...

With you on the jinx days. I've had some too of late. That chutney sounds delicious.

anya said...

Toni, thanks! I love it that you love the story, and the dish! :)

Leighton - I like to believe your jinx days were 'harmless', well, as harmless as jinx days can be anyway. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you!