Cranberry Quince Conserve and a break

We’ve been under fickle skies for the past week.

In the time that it takes to stroll five minutes down my leaf-strewn lane, an afternoon of sunshine is overtaken by clouds. Painted in every colour of grey imaginable, they bring a dreamy rain that slides down the exposed tree trunks and slicks the leaves underfoot. Then, in a moment, rain changes to flurries of snow that never seem to land, only whirl around and around as if lost in the October winds.

The sensation of feeling adrift is a familiar one; being tossed around similarly to those golden-hued leaves abandoned to the tendencies of autumn gales. We have no normalcy these days, I confided to a friend one evening. While many things factor into this unsettling times, a certain upcoming surgery certainly plays a lead role.

Cranberry Quince Conserve with Goji Berries || Simple Bites #recipe #preserving

This week we’ll bring the children to meet the transplant team of surgeons who will operate on their daddy and their grandpa. We’ll tour the hospital floors to find the family room and scope out the best cafeteria. Maybe I’ll test out the sofa where I’ll stay as Danny recovers and determine if I need to pack a pillow or not.

After months of testing and plenty of talking (since this post, really), Danny is going ahead with his decision to be a live organ donor. He will donate a kidney to his father, and hopefully give him a new lease on life. There is so much to live for.

The dual surgery is scheduled for next Thursday.

I struggled with whether or not I would share this here, but in the end I decided it would help explain my absence. I’ve decided to take a short break from the blog. It may be a few weeks, it may be a few months. I really have no way of knowing how things will go, and obviously my priority is my family.

Also, it’s good to finally talk about this. I’m feeling good about it, really good, as is my down-to-earth, factual engineer of a husband. Yes, major surgery comes with its risks, but really, we are so blessed Danny can do this for his dad. It’s people like the Bott family in Alberta who are truly struggling and will probably never feel like life is back to normal.

Like the every changing October weather we’ve been experiencing, there is always sunshine after the stormy weather, and I’m holding out for those times.

I will leave you with a recipe, however, because who can resist the crimson cranberries at the markets right now? Certainly not me. This preserve is a little different that the usual cranberry sauce and I know you’re going to love it.

Cranberry Quince Conserve with Goji Berries || Simple Bites #Recipe #preserving

Cranberry Quince Conserve with Goji Berries

Conserves are different than jams in that they contain both fresh and dried fruit, and are often finished with a splash of alcohol. They are versatile, too. In addition to pairing fruits conserves with toast or scones, I also serve them alongside a roast pork or a firm cheese such as Manchego.

This seasonal conserve is tangy but has bursts of sweetness, thanks to the saucy cranberries and supple quince. My sister is harvesting quince from her neighbour’s tree down in New Mexico. I love that this knobby fall fruit is local for her. For me, Quebec cranberries are this month’s in-season fruit, and I’ve paired both in this preserve.

Goji berries add a pleasant texture as well as additional health benefits. They plump up like raisins in mincemeat and are my favourite part of the conserve.

Conserves typically contain a lot of sugar, but I’ve left it out of mine by adding honey instead. Because I’m cutting out sugar, it is best to make this a freezer preserve, rather than one you would can. The stunning crimson colour makes this conserve a festive holiday gift, so go ahead and make up a few jars.

Cranberry Quince Conserve with Goji Berries || Simple Bites #recipe #preserving

Cranberry Quince Conserve with Goji Berries
4.5 from 2 reviews
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Recipe type: Preserve
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves/Yield: 4 cups
This seasonal conserve is tangy but has bursts of sweetness, thanks to the saucy cranberries and supple quince. The stunning crimson colour makes this conserve a festive holiday gift, so go ahead and make up a few jars.
Ingredients
  • 3 cups whole cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 large quince, cored and chopped
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1 cup liquid honey
  • ½ cup dried goji berries
  • 2 Tablespoons bourbon
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg (optional)
Instructions
  1. Combine cranberries, quince and apple juice in a heavy bottomed medium pot and bring to a boil. Over medium-low heat, cook conserve for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Stir in the honey and continue to cook for 15 more minutes, stirring frequently. The quince will soften yet keep their shape.
  3. Add the goji berries, bourbon and nutmeg. Cook for 2 additional minutes. Turn off heat. Spoon into clean jars and cool completely.
  4. Cover with lids and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Alternatively, label and freeze for up to 6 months.
  5. Variations: If quince cannot be found, use a tart apple such as Granny Smith. Walnuts also make a lovely addition, a half of a cup added in with the goji berries.

One more thing:

I’m planning to stay active on Instagram, so please follow me there if you are not already. If you are unfamiliar with this platform, it’s a free app, available for Android or Apple devices. Here’s a great beginners guide to Instagram. Once you’re signed up, follow me at @AimeeBourque for all things food and homestead related. I also share behind the scenes family photos at @BourqueFamily.

Friends, if you’d like to help, it’s simple: keep cooking my recipes. And sharing them, too. There are over 5 years of recipes waiting to be revisited – or discovered for the first time. This Pinterest board of my dishes is a great way to visually skim the recipes and articles.

Here are a few favourites for November:

As always, thank you for the support. I truly have the best readers on the Internet.

What are you cooking this fall? Oh, and does anyone have a positive organ donor story to share?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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Comments

  1. Kimberley Mulla says:

    Best wishes to your husband, his Dad, and all of your family. We are thinking of you and sending healthy, strong thoughts for a speedy recovery for both. I lost my Dad almost three years ago and I would do anything for my kids to still have their only Grandpa. I can only imagine how blessed your family is that your husband is able to help in such a selfless way.

  2. Prayers for a smooth surgery and recovery for your husband and father-in-law! My own mother-in-law received the gift of a new kidney 5 years ago on Christmas day through a young person in a car accident who was also an organ donor. She was on the transplant waiting list for less than one month! We are thankful for such a wonderful Christmas gift that year and many answered prayers. Her kidney functions beautifully today, but the first year on anti-rejection drugs were rough, as an FYI.

  3. Prayers and good thoughts for your family as they go through this major event!

  4. May they both recover quickly! Remember to hold your kids a lot throughout this time. I spent a lot of time in the hospital when my two boys were younger due to kidney and intestinal issues, it took it’s toll on our three girls and the other boy who wasn’t in the hospital at the time. They’ll need lots of love! So glad your putting your family first because that’s what’s most important!

  5. God bless Danny and all of you in this time. My mom was a live organ donor for her cousin a few years back (they are both in their 50s/60s, respectively) and everything went great. What a large sacrifice all of you are making, may God grant everyone peace and rest. We’ll see you when you get back!
    Sarah M

  6. Aimée I hope everything goes well for Danny and his dad. Sending hugs.

  7. Best wishes for you and your family. I will miss your blog posts but family comes first. When the time is right I look forward to reading more of your words.

  8. Praying all goes well for both Danny and his dad. My best friend’s father had kidney a transplant from a live donor a couple of years ago. His long time friend made the donation and it was beautiful to see how it benefited both of their lives.

    I’ve also been taking a bit of a step back from blogging recently to tend to family matters and my own physical and spiritual health. I’m always hesitant to slow down since I’m still in the “building stage” of my blog, but I also know that other, more important areas of life will suffer if I just keep plowing ahead. It’s so encouraging to see more seasoned bloggers set the example of blogging less and living more. Thank you for your openness and your willingness to put your family first. It’s an encouragement to me and I’m sure to many others as well!

    • Good to know, Dena. Thanks for the note. It’s nice to feel the support of readers during rougher waters. Here’s hoping things calm down on your end as well. xo

  9. Aimee, I will be thinking of your family in the weeks ahead. Danny is giving his father the best gift imaginable.

    In my extended family there was a successful kidney donation between adult siblings almost 40 years ago; just think how much more advanced the techniques must be now. And just a few years ago, a double lung transplant saved another family member. Organ transplantation is more common than we may think.

    I hope both your husband and your father-in-law have full and speedy recoveries. And because of course someone’s illness and surgery affects the family too, I hope you will have the support you need as you support your loved ones.

  10. Sending all of you lots of love and good vibes!

  11. Carrying you and the family in our hearts over the next few months. ❤️❤️ PS can’t wait to try this lovely recipe.

  12. This is VERY big and very loving. Congratulations and good luck to all. You’ll be in my prayers. As for transplant tales, please know my friend is a live-kidney recipient, and she is loving life post-transplant – as is her family-member donor. Another dear friend is a nephrology transplant doc … so, so many positive, affirming, and wonderful stories from him. There are really great Canadian clinicians and scientists who are on Team Bourque, whether directly or indirectly! Finally, how appropriate that you’re featuring cranberries. They are beneficial for good, overall urological health : ) Do take good care!

  13. Aimée,
    Your family will be in my thoughts. I wish smooth recoveries and positive outcomes for Danny and his father, and will pin with abandon when I visit your board.
    Kirsten

  14. hey girl- I’ll be praying for you and your family! God is good and he will bring you through this. and by the way the recipe looks amazing!

  15. We’re praying for the whole Bourque clan. Love you guys!

  16. Wishing the best to Danny and his dad- sending thoughts for a smooth and speedy recovery to both and strength to you and your family to ease through the worrisome wait of such stressful situations. All the best

  17. Aimee,
    I have loved your blog for a while, but this is my first time making a comment. I am lifting you and your family up in prayer during this time. I can so relate.
    Take your rest, and be with your family. May you be blessed.

  18. Best of luck you and your family! What an amazing gift to give. I’m sure it was a tough decision, but you must be so proud of your husband. We will miss your blog over the next little while, and look forward to your return!

  19. Aimee
    I’ll be praying for you and your family.

  20. Hugs to you and your family Aimee, and kudos to you for having the courage to recognize when you need to take a break. I think it shows remarkable strength.

    A close family friend of mine recently underwent this same surgery to donate a kidney to his sister who after years of suffering from lupus was on death’s door. I was stunned by his selflessness, and his love for his sister. Not common to witness this amongst humans I don’t think. The good news is that he and his sister are both recovering beautifully and will have longer and fuller lives in the end, I am sure of it :-). Your husband sounds like an amazing, generous guy, and you too for encouraging him in his decision and supporting him during the surgery and recovery.

    xo (and see you soon!)

    Sarah

    • Sarah, thank so much the the encouraging story. I”m sure it will all turn out fine, although we’re feeling a little fragile at the moment.

      Great seeing you at FBC!

  21. Aimee, your words struck home as I am waiting for a liver transplant. Will be thinking of your husband and his Dad on this incredible journey.
    Lora

    • Lora, best wishes for your organ transplant journey. Ironically, my husband’s mother received a liver transplant a few years back and is doing well. We’re no strangers to organ transplants.

  22. It’s amazing how cathartic writing things out can make you feel about a situation.

    We will be sending good thoughts for speedy recovery to Danny and his dad. The kids will be in awe of their superhero Dad, and I think he may need some superhero food brought to him. Those boys know how to whip up cookies.

  23. Oh Aimee, how this all must be weighing on you and your family. My father had this surgery a few years ago to donate a kidney to his brother. Of course his children are grown and gone and he is the older of the two brothers, but still a big decision was this one.

    Things like this remind me that Christ’s yoke is easy and His burden is light. I will be praying for you, Danny, and your family.

  24. Hello, Aimee, thank you for sharing your love of cooking and your stories. I am truly grateful for you being there on the blog for many days, and will miss you tremendously for a while. Everything should be alright, as I read many live donor stories, it is not a life threatening event at all. Many blessings to you!

  25. Thank you for your vulnerability & shring your heart! My family will be in prayer for your hubs & your grandfather, as well as your whole family as you go through this procedure. He is the Great Comforter who never forsakes us! Be blessed.

  26. Dear Aimee & family,
    Sending the best, warmest healing intentions from Ireland….family comes first indeed. Maybe we will get some brief updates on Insta, no pressure. Love and light, Imen

  27. Wishing you and your family good health, Aimée. The community of readers out here all have your back, including me. xo

    And this conserve looks like a jar of rubies––stunning!

  28. Best wishes for a speedy recovery for both of them! I don’t have personal experience with organ transplantation, but I do work in healthcare so I know the anti-rejection drugs are all sorts of rough in the beginning. The couple-few months of difficulty are definitely worth the increased quality of life afterwards, though! Good luck to all of you as you embark on this journey!

  29. Dear Aimee, our prayers are with you and your family at this time. May God grant you peace to you all and a speedy recovery for your husband and father in law.
    My daughter and I enjoy your blog very much. Take care!

  30. My thoughts and prayers are with your family. I was wondering if Danny was a match. What a brave and wonderful gift Danny is giving his father. You must be very proud of him….it is also a powerful example to your kids.
    You are in the right hospital…they have an amazing team. I see all transplant patients for their follow-ups and see first hand the great work they do.
    I will keep an eye out for you on Thursday.
    Your fan at the MUHC!

    • Hi Sara,
      Thanks for the note. And you were right, it was a great transplant team.
      Will you see Danny for his follow-up? Maybe we’ll meet.
      Thanks for the support. xo

  31. So much love to all of you, Aimée! What a gift – sending thoughts of speedy recoveries to both Danny and his Dad. It is such an amazing modern miracle of medicine that this is even possible. Hope all goes well. ❤️

  32. Sending good thoughts to your family, especially to Danny and his Dad. Wishing them a speedy recovery and wishing all of you peace and rest.

  33. Prayers for your family. I know 2 people who have had their kidneys removed, one younger and a donor, and the other older to remove a tumor. Both surgeries went well and recovery time was minimal. I hope this is encouraging for your husband. And yes, family always comes first. Will miss you, and take care of yourself also.

  34. I will be mining your site for recipes as we head into the holiday season, as I do every year, because they are some of the best out there. You definitely have your priorities straight and I pray you and your people move through this season with health and peace. One of my friends from college was a kidney donor to a woman she barely knew ( I think she was a second or third cousin) when she was in her twenties. The recipient was also very young and my friend couldn’t imagine not trying to help her, since she was one of the only people who could. They are both still living very healthy lives – my friend actually has had two babies since then without any issues. Modern medicine can be pretty amazing.

  35. No positive stories to share about organ donations (none positive or negative) but plenty of positive stories about the power of family and love. Hold your family and kiss them all. Your blog, writing and everything else can wait.

    Thank you for all the recipes!

  36. I hope and pray you and those you love will do well.

  37. Sending up prayers for your husband and father-in-law on a successful transplant. I was the recipient of a new kidney, courtesy of my brother-in-law, 6 years ago. We both came through the surgery perfectly and I have had good health ever since. No problems with medicines or side effects. He is my hero, in so many ways!

  38. Sending you positive energies from here my dear to you, your husband and all your family in these difficult and challenging times. May them both make a speedy and easy recovery as family is one of the most precious things in life.
    Hugs from Longueuil xx

  39. Well wishes. I just want to say that a friend went through this for his brother. It was totally successful. Good luck with all sweetie.

  40. My husband had a friend who had a heart transplant that gave him 10 more years of life. Good luck to your husband and his dad.

  41. My husband lost a kidney to cancer in 1997. Luckily it was caught early and we are well past any chance of reoccurrence. My husband is 66 and we travel extensively in the US, Canada and Europe for our business. This year we will be going to Asia. I want you to know that your husband will be fine. He has done a wonderful and courageous thing and your lives will not be hindered by his sacrifice.

    You and your family can truly celebrate the meaning of Thanksgiving this year. God bless you.

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