Someday I would like to see a cranberry harvest: crimson fruit floating on flooded coastal fields, skimmed off like a school of tropical fish.
Any food that brilliant, that hardy, that distinctive in flavor deserves its place at the holiday table. Cranberries tartness may not make for solo fare, but
it serves as the perfect compliment to savory main dishes, starchy vegetables, and yeasty rolls. Put another way, the cranberry is like an outspoken aunt who keeps conversation grounded with her tart practicality.
A spoonful of orange-cranberry relish, a slice of jellied cranberry sauce, or a pre-dinner glass of cranberry punch all serve the same purpose: to wake up your tongue, clear your head, and keep you in the present moment.
I AM SO FOND of that wake-you-up bite that I begin stashing one-pound bags of fresh cranberries in my freezer as soon as they show up in the grocery store, sometimes a month before Thanksgiving. I pull out my favorite cranberry recipes and feast with them on even the most ordinary days.
One cup stirred into a sweet batter makes outstanding muffins or a coffeecake. A cranberry relishmade perhaps with the spices of Indian cookinggoes with all manner of sandwiches. Cooked whole with sugar, cranberries make a fine sauce to serve with meats or baked vegetables. A creamy cranberry jello dish fits right in at a November or December potluck; kids love the bright pink.