to cranberry or not to cranberry

it’s thanksgiving here in the united states and while it’s an unusual one, there are still some things i can’t not have around this time of year – one of those things is cranberries.

when i was a kid, we only had the jellied cranberry sauce that came in a metal and typically would slide out with a sucking sound and plop down in a chunk with the lines from the metal tin molded into the side. at some point, someone introduced homemade cranberry sauce and my family began to have both at thanksgiving. i liked the homemade kind because it tasted more intensely of cranberry and was more tart than the canned kind.

then at some point, someone else decided to do something else with cranberry and they made cranberry relish, which was cool and tart and textured like a pickle relish.

this year, i decided to try making cranberry relish and found out it was super easy. most of the recipes i looked at called for what seemed like a lot of sugar so i started with half and found out it was exactly the amount i like.

to make your own cranberry relish, dump a 12 ounce bag of cranberries in a food processor. then, take a juice orange and cut the ends off just until you see the flesh. leave the peel on and cut the orange into pieces and throw them in the food processor. then you run your food processor until it’s a even consistency similar to relish. scoop it out into a bowl and add one half-cup of white sugar and stir it gently and well.

this gave me 3 half-pint jars and it can be frozen for later use! i have used it on my all-corn cornbread after a thin layer of the apple butter i made and i’ve also added some to a bowl of my homemade apple sauce, which tasted great, too. you can also use it on chicken or turkey sandwiches, and i bet it would taste good on pancakes.

tradition in 2020

thanksgiving is next week and i’ve been thinking a lot about tradition because, to me, tradition is really what dominates thanksgiving and the “holiday season.” tradition is the “every year we . . . ” story you tell people. tradition is the celebration of making it another year to do this again, and the proof that we are not alone – that we come from somewhere, that we are going somewhere. tradition is something that gives us a sense of normalcy which is something we haven’t had a lot of in 2020

thanksgiving was my mother’s favorite holiday (really the only one she cared about) and she always went overboard with the food – she always cooked a soup and had appetizers to start, there were potatoes done three different ways, 5 or more desserts, and the turkey weighed 20 something pounds. she’d get up at 3 in the morning or something like that to put the turkey in the oven on a low heat for a long time for the sake of tradition, and every year we had an overcooked, dry bird – but my mother did all of this because it was tradition, and it was how she knew to love us

this year, we aren’t gathering as a family. my mother is in a nursing home and isn’t going to be cooking but she’s confused enough to think she is going to cook, and a week ago when we talked, she told me she was going to make a lasagna this year. she always made a very traditional american meal for thanksgiving, and anytime anyone would suggest even an alternative dish she would shoot the idea down real fast, so lasagna definitely came out of left field – she would never, ever cook something like that for thanksgving.

the real tradition for me for thanksgiving was seeing my mother take such joy in choosing her menu, shopping for ingredients, and taking days to make a meal for all of us. this year she chose lasagna but she can’t make it, so i’m going to make a lasagna. my brother and some other members of my family are making lasagna, too, because we need a new tradition, and my mom gave us one.

(i’m going to make the sauce for my lasagna this weekend, and i’ll make a post with the recipe and some pictures in case you want to see how i make it – i’ll also do the same when i make the lasagna next thursday)