Last month, I had planned to make my pocket pies with cranberry pear filling and I wanted to use fresh cranberries. Imagine my dismay when I realized that I was one whole month too early for the arrival of these beautiful red beauties at my local grocery store. I put on my best pouty face, grabbed some dried cranberries, and made damn good pocket pies anyway. (And might I add, these pies would be the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving dinner table!)
But now, Thanksgiving is finally upon us and the season for fresh cranberries is officially here. For me, seeing these cranberries means it is really the holidays. They smile at me with their bright crimson faces and give me the red light to fully immerse myself in Thanksgiving and Christmas preparations. So prepare yourselves. I might get a little crazy.
This is the best nutmeg grater ever. It is the same one that my grandma uses, and she got me mine from Amish country in Ohio; this nutmeg grater from Norpro looks exactly the same (and is less than $5), and also has the small compartment on top for storing the nutmeg like mine does. LOVE it.
Seeing cranberries also makes me think of my mom. No, she isn't small, red, and round, but she makes me happy too. Mostly I think of my mom because I grew up eating her cranberry relish every year at Thanksgiving and I loved it. Excuse me, saying I 'loved' it makes it sound past tense - I love it, as in I swoon over it each time I make it. When I still lived at home, we would fight over it and eat it on/with everything, or just by itself. It is cranberry greatness.
And really, the recipe couldn't be more simple. In my book, the perfect way to worship cranberries is to marry them with a heady mix of spices and just the right amount of sugar; not too much sweetness as to disguise the cranberry, but just enough to dull the sharp tart taste. One of my other favorite components of this recipe are the big golden raisins and the crunch of the chopped pecans. I like my applesauce chunky, and my cranberry relish even chunkier; it lets me know there are real ingredients in there and it is not over-processed. If you like your relish smooth, I would normally just tell you to go ahead and throw in a blender or food processor, but frankly, that is blasphemy in my eyes so we will just pretend I didn't even mention it.
Instead, I will just leave you with this lovely, crimson, traditional Thanksgiving recipe, and tell you that I hope you love it as much as I do. And you can thank my mom for the recipe, I make sure to thank her each year when I make it myself.
My Mom's Cranberry Relish
3/4 cup apple juice
1/2-3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
3 cups fresh cranberries (12 oz.)
1/2-3/4 cup light or golden raisins
1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans
Combine the first four ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the cranberries, raisins and cloves, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat. Cook until the cranberries pop, then add pecans and stir to mix. Remove from heat and let cool slightly before serving. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container for 1 week.