Upon the request of myself and my brother, who also did not get to feast the traditional Thanksgiving Dinner because he was in Cabo, Mexico this year, I am making the big dinner for my family to celebrate my Mom’s birthday! Of course this year will require a few changes, eliminating one of the stars of the meal, butter – but I think I can pull it off.

Minnesota Winter

I like to make list upon list to help me stay organized for this huge undertaking. The menu will include: a salt-roasted turkey with lemon and thyme, regular and gluten-free stuffing with sausage, apples and water chestnuts, green bean casserole, candied sweet potatoes, corn pudding, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberries, chocolate cake and pecan pie. Yes, for two days I live in the kitchen prepping and cooking and sautéing and baking. This year, my Dad has so graciously volunteered to be my Sous-Chef! Thanks Dad!

Me and My Sous Chef

One of my tips is preparing as many dishes that I can before the big feast day. So two days before eating, I make the cranberries. As a child, I always shied away from the cranberries as they were always unpredictable. There are so many ways they can show up on the table – in a jello mold, from a can, in a salad, however my favorite is my Mom’s recipe listed here.

Rinsed Cranberries

Now, they are one of my most beloved sides to this meal adding beautiful color and vibrance and a sharp, tart and sweet counter piece to the dense and rich food surrounding it on the plate.

Finished Cranberries

So, here is to the start of the holidays for our family! Feast away!

1 bag of cranberries
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
rind of 1 orange
1 cinnamon stick

Place all ingredients in a large pan set over high heat. Stir until sugar dissolves and mixture starts to boil. Then turn heat to low and let sit, stirring every now and then for 1-2 hours until desired thickness. You can serve warm, or let cool completely and refrigerate.

Simmering Cranberry Sauce Rinsed Cranberries Cooking Cranberries Finished Cranberries