When you choose to move thousands of miles from the people and geographical traditions of years past, the holidays can be a bit dicey. Honestly, regardless of where you are, the holidays always have a touch of the bittersweet, since it is just these holiday traditions that bring those no longer here to celebrate with you to mind. And with that comes the pangs of an empty heart. For me, regardless of where the table is set, I always remember those not sitting around it anymore, so keeping a few old traditions while making new ones is particularly important. Which is how I wound up with a can of cranberry sauce.
Come on now, admit it. You love the stuff too. That solid mass with the ridges in the sides, the resounding THWOCK when it slides from can to plate, the deep crimson hue, the wobbly wonderfulness of it all. There’s something comfortingly festive about cranberry sauce from a can. It’s probably the first experience of the bog berry you had as a kid, and while foodists might turn nose up and mock it, deep down they love it too. I wasn’t making Thanksgiving dinner this year, and even if I was haven’t done anything close to a “traditional” menu for years. But none of that mattered. I was in the market three days before Thanksgiving and I had to have it. Maybe it was because everything this year was different, and I needed the comfort of something associated with holidays past. Or maybe it was because Thanksgiving is really the only time you see the jellied gems so proudly and unashamedly displayed. I don’t really care why, all I know is when I got home and unpacked my weekly groceries, there it was, making me smile and feel just a little less out of place. At this particularly emotional time of year, you don’t argue with something that makes you feel better, even if it does come out of a can. In fact, that can of cranberry made me feel so much better it inspired a poem to the much-maligned yet humbly magnificent condiment.
Wishing you all joy and glad tidings as we embark upon the season, and may this Thanksgiving haiku bring a smile to the hearts of canned and fresh sauce lovers alike!
Jellied rib tower
The sound of thwock hitting plate
A reason for thanks
Ok, now that I had ample supply of the canned stuff, I needed to think of something to do with it that would outlive one day of feasting. This Holiday Cranberry Horseradish Sauce goes particularly well on the traditional latkes of Hanukkah, but would be terrific with turkey, chicken or pork too.
Holiday Cranberry Horseradish Sauce
Makes about 1 ½ cups
- 1 can jellied cranberry sauce
- 1 tsp grated orange zest
- ¼ cup orange juice
- 1 TBSP Dijon mustard
- 2-3 heaping tsp prepared horseradish (you could use freshly grated too, just remember it is stronger than the prepared stuff, so decrease amount by a teaspoon or so)
- 1 apple, peeled and grated (about ¾ cups)
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ tsp salt
Bring all of the ingredients to a boil, then turn down to simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes until it thickens slightly. Let cook completely, then keep covered in refrigerator. Calories: about 110 per ¼ cup.
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