We all have things we love dearly, even though we may have matured past them. Comfort foods are just that because they remind us of a time in our lives when we felt safe and fulfilled. I love thanksgiving and all the crazy food memories the Deetz family can share. We grew up in the belly of the holiday beast, rallied against misperceptions and championed many a meal that had not a bit of turkey. But we also love the standards.
Because my dad, Jim Deetz, is so closely associated with Thanksgiving, he was often racing to interviews, tv shoots, etc. on Thanksgiving morning. I remember once as an adult showing up at work in Southern California the week of Thanksgiving and hearing a coworker rant and rave about an interview she just heard on the radio.Who was this scholar who refuted all things holy? No turkey, no black hats with buckles, no mashed potatoes, no Norman Rockwell glow? Eel? really? turtle stew? eeew! I loved it, and enjoyed talking it all through with her years after I had left the bosom of the plantation.
Our must haves at the thanksgiving table included many wonderful things, pork and sauerkraut for my dad, green jello with shredded carrots and cabbage, topped with a suspicious white dressing for my mom. And for me, the black olives that had to spend some time slighty stretched over my fingers before being eaten. AND, I would venture to guess that even as all of us Deetzes add and change what we make, we almost certainly will have a beautifully plated, intact log of ocean spray jellied cranberry sauce. My mom always put it on a cut glass serving tray, with a small knife, to allow each if us to choose our portion, cutting along the conveniently spaced rilling left by the can sides. If you have never done this, it is quite easy, you use a can opener on both ends of the can, and remove one lid. The other remains in place and is used as a way to push the jellied column out onto its serving dish. I think all our chefing started with that one glorious job.
I do have the one can of jellied sauce ready for tomorrow but I also have my basic homemade cranberry relish already cooling. Last year I made a jalapeno version, this year I am trying some with rosemary added to it.
I don't have a recipe, it is so easy without one. I start with two bags of fresh cranberrys, and put them in a saucepan with about a cup of orange juice. I simmer them and add in about 1/2 c. of white sugar. I grate in a good amount of orange zest, and sometimes some lemon. Add a pinch of salt. Simmer until the cranberries pop and start to soften. Once it gets soupy, I mash it a little with a potato masher, and remove from the heat to cool.
In years past, I have stirred in raspberry jam, for a sweeter version, or even bourbon/orange marmalade. Last year I sliced and sauteed a small jalapeno pepper in the pan before adding the berries. This year I sprinkled in a pinch of rosemary leaves to a portion of the larger batch. But I am actually looking forward to pushing that canned sauce out onto a pretty plate tomorrow.