Mulled Cranberry Tea, Also Known as the Agony of Potlucks

So I am going to rant here, and I will post the recipe first so that you can read it without wading through my grumbles.

Mulled Cranberry Tea

2 tea bags (I use peach herbal or cinnamon for this)

1 cup boiling water

1 bottle (48 oz) cranberry juice (I use no sugar added natural, because this will come out sweet)

1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional- never used them)

1/3 cup sugar

1 larg lemon, cut into 1/4 inch slices

4 cinnamon sticks

6 whole cloves (also never used these)

garnishes:  more cinnamon sticks & thin lemon slices- never done this either

In a crock pot, deposit tea bags and pour boiling water over them.  Cover & let sit for 5 minutes.  Fish out the tea bags and add the rest of the ingredients sans garnishes.  Cover and cook, either on Low for 2-3 hours or High 1-2 hours.

You can remove and get rid of the lemon slices and cinnamon sticks, but I leave them in because it looks festive and pretty.  Serve warm.  I generally pour any leftovers back into the cranberry juice bottle (straining of course) and use it up within a few days.  Enjoy.

*this is not my recipe, I have edited it a bit for my personal use but it came out of a “Rival Crock Pot Slower Cooker Recipes” book.

So, as it always seems to come to pass, any potluck dish you agonize over choosing out of the many hundreds of cookbooks, searching for that perfect combination of taste and art whilst drag your soul through the fires of self flagellation only to ferry it gently across the river of anguish and deposit on the table like a great sacrifice to the gods of potlucks, hoping that your offering will be deemed acceptable and memorable, and then it doesn’t even get a second look.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I grew up in my church viewing potlucks as a religious rite ( don’t shoot me, I’m sure I will be struck by lightening soon).  I probably put way more thought into this then I should have, but I grew up thinking that food was how my church came together.  I also saw the providing of the dishes as somewhat of a right-of-passage.  Over the years, the trends have come and gone (memorably was the quiche phase *shudder*) and a few other notables, but everyone seems to settle into a specialty over time.

Usually, I brought an apple pie I had managed to turn into second nature since middle school because it is always requested, even though I don’t even like it (yes I hate pie, yes I know it is truly horrendous, we have accepted this as fact- note the use of the royal “we”).

However, my husband has been calming the nerves that I am pretty sure were entirely made up, and trying to keep me from languishing over potluck dishes.  Lately, whether through boredom with my standard pie or laziness for not wanting to spend two hours on something I won’t even eat, I have turned to other dishes.

Today, I was tired and I hadn’t even known if I was going to show up to this potluck.  I decided to make something out of a cookbook I had been gifted with when I graduated college (one of those that is in the shape of the food/method it uses in every recipe) and do something insanely simple.

Now, I don’t even know why, but I love sharing recipes with other people.  Nothing makes me happier then to know someone enjoyed a dish I prepped and that they would love to experiment with it on their own.  Of course, this never happens with the recipes that take hours to make.  You can slave over a dish and  have maybe 1 serving taken from it at the end of the night.  Then you get the dish where you were too busy to go shopping and just threw something together, thinking that you wouldn’t’ even care if it came back untouched, and the damn thing is empty within 10 minutes of being set on a serving table.  Ironically, this is the dish that becomes the most popular out of your repertoire, and it just kills you.

This dish is such a dish.  It literally takes less then 10 minutes to prepare, and can be drinkable in an hour, perhaps even 45 minutes depending on how awesome your crock pot/slower cooker is.

I had no less than 6 people ask me for the recipe, all of whom were appalled at how easy it was.  If you actually made it to the end of this rant, bless you.