The day before Thanksgiving finds me doing what you’re doing: cooking. I just finished a three-hour stint in the kitchen, preparing dishes that can be made a day ahead so I can cook less and play more tomorrow. Today is also my son’s 5th birthday, so in addition to orange-cranberry sauce, cornbread for stuffing and green beans, I made his favorite chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream. Somehow, pumpkin pie doesn’t cut it for a birthday dessert, even if the birthday falls just hours from Thanksgiving.
All my kids love to cook, but today it was the birthday boy who joined me at the stove. (The day hasn’t been all work. We took him out for sweet potato pancakes and then to see mummies and an Imax film at the Nature & Science museum, a dream outing for a little boy.) He and I started with the orange-cranberry sauce (see recipe below), admiring the bright red jewels and laughing as they popped in the simmering orange juice. “This is my favorite part of Thanksgiving,” he kept saying. I’m not sure if he meant the cranberries or cooking with me, but my guess is he meant a combination of the two.
With no one to pick up at school and grandparents in town to amuse his sisters, we had plenty of time to slow down and appreciate being together and really look at our ingredients. If you have kids around today and tomorrow, remember to bring them in there with you; there’s so much fun to be had with kids in the kitchen. Today we just enjoyed each other’s company and marveled at the rainbow before us. Red cranberries. Orange zest. Yellow cornbread. Green beans.
The orange-cranberry sauce, right after we dumped the cranberries into the pot.
Our nearly-finished product. The only steps that remain are to sample it when cool…
½ to 1 cup sugar
12 ounces fresh cranberries
Zest one orange and set aside. Juice both oranges, and pour juice into a one-cup measuring cup. If you don’t have enough, top with water until you have 1 cup. Put juice and sugar in a medium pot and bring to a boil. (Use the smaller amount for a tart sauce and the greater amount for a sweet, i.e. kid-pleasing one.) Add cranberries and bring to another boil, then let simmer for 8-10 minutes or until berries have popped. Remove from heat and let cool. Add orange zest to taste and refrigerate.