Cranberry Memories

The American superfood

My days of concocting in the kitchen began in preschool. I remember taking turns with classmates shaking a milk carton until it became butter for us to slather on saltines, but the recipe that stuck with me was cranberry relish.

Cranberry relish. My pride beamed every year with my contribution to the family Thanksgiving meal. I loved watching Mom bring out the ancient food mill and attach it to the edge of the kitchen table. I was ready with my 2 bags of cranberries, my whole oranges, and loads of granulated sugar. We had to place a bowl on the floor under the mill to catch all the escaping fruit juices as the cranberries popped while squishing through the mill. I watched the orange chunks, skin and all, slurp through the corkscrew mechanism as I cranked the handle. And then the incredible amount of sugar to sweeten it to everyone’s non-refined 1970s taste!

reminiscent of my food mill

My fondest memories are those from the holidays with the extended family. My grandmother and her sisters just a little too happy from holiday cheer laughing together until they cried, the antics that ensued, the toasty two rooms of long tables encircled with plenty of family, the abundance of food and pies, the chilly walks around the block to digest the dinner and the sheepshead played late into the evening.

Mark my words cranberries will be considered a superfood one of these years. Packed with crazy levels of vitamin C and antioxidants, with compounds and phytonutrients to protect blood vessels, prevent kidney stones and cancer, prevent viruses and combat urinary tract infections and viruses, and possible a natural probiotic encouraging healthy bacteria and fighting bad bacteria in the gut and mouth .

Cranberries are one of the fruits to buy organic! Between containing high levels of pesticides, growing in poisoned bog water, and sprayed with chemicals that disrupt the endocrine system, organic is a must!

Cranberry relish (with tweaks to the recipe) stayed my constant as the family dwindled, friend gatherings replaced family, and sometimes solitary holidays replaced those. My mom gave me the food mill to keep my contribution alive each year. As my kitchen equipment moved to the 21st century, the food mill collected dust and the hand blender, then the food processor, then this year the Blendtec whipped the ingredients into relish.

All the years I ground up those fruits and sugar, I called the relish cranberry sauce. Imagine my annoyance when at one meal a friend corrected me saying “this isn’t sauce, it’s relish”. Well the next year, I made sauce! It was amazing but it wasn’t the nostalgia of my cranberries, oranges and sugar.

The traditional 4 year old Lisa’s cranberry relish required
2 large bags of cranberries
3 oranges
2-3 cups of sugar…I am sure I used 3 cups!

The Cranberry Sauce
2 bags of cranberries
Zest and juice of 2 oranges
Honey to taste
Contents from one Vanilla bean
1 Cinnamon stick
Sweet red wine

Cook cranberries and orange juice in a saucepan until the cranberries pop. Add the vanilla bean and cinnamon stick, honey and red wine to taste. Let simmer until it tastes awesome. I put this through a sieve so it was completely smooth.

Cranberry Relish 2010
1 pint of local cranberries
1 juice orange
1 grapefruit
Seeds from 1 pomegranate
I blended all ingredients in the Blendtec and added no sweetener.

For those of you drinking Coconut Kefir, I combined 4 ounces of fresh fizzy coconut kefir with about ¼ to ½ a cup of this relish and LOVED it as a refreshing holiday drink.