Gam’s Cranberries

Cranberry SauceOf all the hol­i­days, Thanks­giving is the one that reminds me of my Grand­mother the most, and prob­ably not for the reason you think. I don’t have visions of my Grand­mother wearing a frilly apron rolling out pie dough, though she could make a mean crust. What I do have are Gam’s Rules of Thanks­giving.

Thanks­giving dinner was always at our house and every year, and I do mean every year, my sister and I (and my poor mother who was actu­ally doing the cooking) were sub­ject to Gam’s lessons /​ rules /​ com­mand­ments in cooking Thanks­giving dinner.

While we remember those lessons fondly now, at the time we just rolled our eyes. “For a good gravy, first you have to make a good roux. Did you make a good roux?” This lesson was the first in the Gospel According to Gam and has become a battle cry at any family dinner be it Thanks­giving or oth­er­wise. (First You Need To Make a Good Roux became the title to the book of her recipes that I put together for the women in the family.)

The first lesson was quickly fol­lowed by the mildly con­de­scending, “If I were making this at home I would have some Kitchen Bou­quet” to the gravy. This was a hotly con­tested addi­tion, and I’m in the you don’t need it camp. We never had Kitchen Bou­quet the house except at Thanks­giving, but we ran out and bought some every year, or never heard the end of it.

My favorite lesson, and the one that makes me smile as I write this, is her ritual warning of, “Don’t touch the plates! They’re hot!” And every time without fail my grand­fa­ther would touch the plates and say, “Wow that’s hot!” just to bug her.

By far Gam’s best con­tri­bu­tion to the Thanks­giving feast was her cran­berry sauce, though sauce may be a bit of a mis­nomer. Year after year it was one of the favorite things on our Thanks­giving table, and now that she’s gone it just wouldn’t be Thanks­giving without her cranberries.…as well as hot plates…and a really good roux…

Go ahead…Roll your eyes.…

Gam’s Cran­ber­ries
Yields Approx­i­mately 3 Cups

Ingre­di­ents
1 large orange
1 1/​2 cups sugar
3/​4 cup water
1/​4 cup lemon juice
3 cups raw cranberries

With a veg­etable peeler or a small sharp knife, remove the peel but not the pith from the orange and cut it into very thin juli­enne strips.

Blanch the strips in boiling water for 1 minute, drain them in a sieve, and refresh them under run­ning cold water.

In a saucepan, com­bine sugar, water, and lemon juice. Bring the mix­ture to a boil over low heat, washing down any sugar crys­tals clinging to the sides of the pan with a brush dipped in cold water, and simmer the syrup for 5 minutes.

Add the cran­ber­ries and the orange strips to the syrup and cook the mix­ture over mod­er­ately high heat for 4 to 5 min­utes, or until the cran­ber­ries have popped.

Let the mix­ture cool and chill it thoroughly.

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