Whether you’re having Thanksgiving at home or bringing something to share with family and friends, you’re probably wishing that you could find something just a little different – but easy to prepare – for this Thanksgiving. Most of us will have turkey on the menu, stuffing, mashed potatoes, squash, cranberry sauce and pies. Some of us will have that green bean casserole with the crispy onion rings on top. Aunt May might bring her marshmallow/fruit whip. (You can always say you’re just too full to eat another bite.) A few of us, who have had enough of cooking, moiling and toiling on Thanksgiving, will opt to eat out, although we may wish we had some leftovers later that night when we’re craving a turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce sandwich and a piece of pumpkin pie. Some of us with Native American ancestry may be reflecting on how to renew a meaningful dialogue about our past and look towards a more honest future as Russell M. Peters, from the Wampanoags of Mashpee, Massachusetts says.
Our Thanksgiving is going to be very quiet this year, because Son has moved out and he and his Sweetie will be eating with another branch of relatives. Geekdaddy hates turkey and Daughter and I hate doing dishes, so we may have pizza or just our favorite chicken and sweet potatoes with pie for dessert. Whatever we have, there WILL be cranberry sauce, homemade and really simple and way better than the jellied blob you get in the can. (No BPA either and ours are organic and come from right down the road.)
The recipe is so simple, that you don’t really need a recipe. Just get a 12 oz bag of cranberries. Wash them. Peel, core and chop a medium sized apple. Put a cup of water into a small pan, add a cup and a half of sugar (I like them tart, but you can add sugar later if it’s not sweet enough for you) and bring it to a boil. Carefully add the cranberries and chopped apple and keep boiling until the skins pop. Turn it off for syrupy cranberry sauce, or simmer longer for more “gelled” sauce. Cranberries have pectin, like apples do, so the longer you simmer, the more pectin comes out and the thicker the sauce gets. It will also “set up” more when you refrigerate it. If you like, add a little grated fresh ginger, some raisins or orange peel. I like to vary mine, so I sometimes serve it plain and sometimes serve it fancy.
As far as thoughts for Thanksgiving, this would be a good time to think about the holiday season, which is about to descend on us whether we like it or not. We’re not religious folk and and we’re not rampant consumers, so our family doesn’t celebrate Christmas or participate in Black Friday. We do observe the Solstice and if the weather cooperates will probably have another Solstice bonfire and get-together this year. (Especially if we can get Uncle Bill to bring his special Solstice rum cake.) However, I respect the fact that other families and people have traditions and beliefs that are very important and even sacred to them, so I try not to rain on their parades.
That said, I think with the economy the way it is and the environment in need of help from all of us if it’s going to sustain us through many more celebrations and holidays, it wouldn’t hurt a bit if we all took a long hard look at what’s really important this time of year. What if everyone of us stopped before we bought into (literally) the mindset that we have to spend a lot of money and time and run around the mall like rats in a maze, buying things, just because it’s the holiday season?
What if – maybe while we’re having Thanksgiving dinner with our family and friends – we looked around the table and realized what it really takes to make us happy. Friends, family, a few treats and they don’t have to be expensive or store-bought, a few decorations maybe that the kids make with a little help from us. And how much money, time and effort does it take to create this? Not much. Let’s face it, if you can’t make your family and friends happy without spending big bucks on Black Friday, maybe it’s time to sit down and have a good long conversation with them about their expectations and yours for your relationship.