Forest Gump's Momma was only sort of correct when she said, "Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."

With a box of chocolates you know, whichever you bite into, it’s bound to be sweet. And if it happens to be a box of Whitman’s or See’s Chocolate (my favorite…hint hint) you know exactly what you’ll get because a full description of each piece is included.

Being older than Forest’s Momma could ever have been, had she actually been, and have clocked more miles, I’d like to amend that. I say:

Life is like a jar of chutney, sour vinegar, bitter zest, sugar, salt and seeds and spices blended together. With age the flavors meld & mellow, ripen, like memories.

Usually, I stuff my holiday turkey with a sort of Waldorf salad—apples, oranges, onions, celery, paprika, salt, butter, sage—and slow cook the bird breast down. The turkey comes out juicy and slightly citrus, and the drippings make an especially tasty dark golden gravy. The cooked fruit, however, goes to waste. This year, I decided to try something different. Instead of stuffing the turkey with Waldorf, I stuffed it with the makings of cranberry-apple chutney. In my mind, it was sooooo tasty!

FYI: Cranberries don’t grow in Trinidad, they are imported. And this year, it seems, only a few bags made it. A flurry of text messages went around as frantic cooks in the American Woman’s Association searched Port of Spain for them. One AWA neighbor, Becky, posted that she had a bag of cranberries, thus initiating a bidding war. She ended up selling her bag for TT100 (US$ 16.00). Her teenage son said he’s bringing back a suitcase full of cranberries to sell next fall. The winning bid was not mine (I didn’t even try.)

Canned whole cranberries were available, so I made due by cutting the sugar from my chutney recipe and using the canned. The Turkey Cranberry Chutney looked and tasted great, but… The drippings were too sweet for gravy, so we added more salt, pepper, brandy, but it still wasn’t right. As much as it’s about the chutney, it’s about the gravy.  So maybe life’s like gravy, too. A balancing act.

Going into the holiday season,  we’ve had so much bitter and salty already. On this second night of Hanukkah, with less than a week until Christmas we welcome—and are so ready to add—Spicy & Sweet! A new baby, family & friend time, and maybe some chocolates!

Here’s wishing us all Spicy & Sweet!

Cranberry-Apple Chutney

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 green apple peeled, cored & chopped
  • 1 sweet apple peeled, cored & chopped
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Orange cut off the remaining peel, seed & chop flesh
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup white or apple vinegar
  • Salt
  • Ginger
  • Cloves
  • Cinnamon
  • Whole mustard seed: yellow, black, white or a mix
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Nuts: chopped pecans, walnuts, pinenuts

Put all the ingredients into a heavy brassier or wide-bottomed pot, stir, heat to boiling, then reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 2 or 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

Serve warm or cold. Mellows with time.


Jar of Chutney Playlist:

Happy Holidays!