Thanksgiving is the most American of holidays and one that families of all faiths can embrace. Food is a major component and at this time every year I’m happy to stay in and cook. I don’t actually make the dinner anymore but I contribute something to the meal and even more, it starts me thinking about trying new things. This week I made one of my traditional Thanksgiving recipes, Cranberry Chutney (posted 11/15/2011) and made the pastry for pies. I put an apple pie in the freezer. Once those preparations were done I needed to use up some apples. They were peeled but too few for another pie and had been too many for the one I made, about three cups. I remembered that I had some Stone’s Ginger Wine in the cupboard from our workers who always bring us a bottle when they arrive from Jamaica in the spring. There were possibilities.

I put the apples in a saucepan with a half cup or so of the wine and simmered them. There was also a little piece of ginger root left from another recipe so I minced that fine and added it. Finally the tiniest pinch of red pepper flakes went into the pot. It all simmered until the apples were the consistency of coarse applesauce. Served with a grilled pork chop it turned out to be the perfect compliment to the meat.

While in the mood for experimenting I adapted a recipe for winter squash from a Mark Bittman column in the New York Times. There was half of a butternut squash in the fridge. I peeled it and cut it into slices about ½ inch thick, tossed it with a bit olive oil and salt. spread the slices on a baking sheet and roasted at 375 degrees until soft. I turned the pieces over once as they browned.

In the meantime I chopped ½ an onion, sauteéd it in olive oil until it softened and started to brown, then added a tablespoon of maple syrup and a tablespoon of cider vinegar. This I reduced down, stirring frequently until the mixture was the consistency of thick jam (about 15 minutes). When the squash was soft I mashed it coarsely, added the onion mixture, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Stirred together well and served hot it turned out to be a delicious and different combination. The original recipe called for adding a garnish of chopped mint but our mint hasn’t survived the frosty nights. Yummy anyway.