spiced scented cranberry sauce {day 106}

Thanksgiving preparation has officially started, and I wasn't sure what to expect as I set out to make the cranberry sauce. I'd bought the cranberries last week, and there they sat in the fruit drawer of my fridge. I'd stare at them each time I opened the door, and think "maybe tomorrow the mood will strike to make it".

Well, Thanksgiving is only three days away, and this year I'm blinking in disbelief at how fast this fall has gone by. I go to bed each night thinking of how I found him when I heard he had collapsed. I replay this scene over in my mind before I go to sleep to remind myself that this is really my life, my reality.

I've written about being thankful, and I encourage the girls every day to remember how fortunate we are in spite of this sad truth. For now, my goal is a short term one—get through Thanksgiving. A reader who has also suffered this kind of loss, commented that the anticipation leading up to the "day", be it an anniversary, birthday, or holiday is sometimes harder than the day itself. I've hit two big "days" so far, and I believe that to be true too.

So, I'm glad I didn't turn my back on Thanksgiving this year. As I poured the cranberries into the pot and measured out the spices, I felt normal. I felt like the old "Jennifer". The one who did these things without blinking an eye before August 7th.

Spice Scented Cranberry Sauce

Makes about one quart

A few of you asked about my recipe, so I figured I'd share it with you again. I created it two years ago, and it was featured on the blog I used to write for Relish Magazine last November.

One 12 ounce bag fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar (light or dark is fine)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon allspice

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Add all the ingredients to a heavy-bottomed 2-quart pot, and stir to combine. Cover pot and bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat (keep a close eye because if it boils over it'll make a mess of your stove—I speak from experience and too much multitasking!).

Remove lid, reduce heat to a simmer and let cook, stirring occasionally, until thick and jam-like, about 15 to 17 minutes. Let cool to room temperature or chill before serving. May be prepared and stored in a glass container 3 to 4 days in advance.

Comments

  • Kathryn: I hope you and the girls manage to have a good thanksgiving, despite everything.

  • danielle: Jennie, thank you for this recipe. I’m going to make it for my own family this week. Thank you also for sharing your thoughts and your life with all of us.

  • Laura: So you don’t crush the berries at all? They just go in whole?

  • Lynne: I lost my youngest sister suddenly 5 years ago and it’s true that the anticipation of a significant “day” is generally worse than the day itself. I hope you have a peaceful Thanksgiving. I will be thinking of you.
    Thank you for the recipe. I look forward to impressing my friends and family with it. :)

  • Elizabeth @Mango_Queen: What a great recipe, Jennie! Thanks for sharing and for another great post. You continue to inspire me, and I guess the rest of us. Wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving !

  • Elizabeth: You go, girl.

  • Maria: Jennie your apple pie recipe just went in the oven, my house smells amazing already…I LOVE cranberries but sadly the family doesn’t, I am brining the turkey this year, the DH got a 24 lb one??? What was he thinking? Thank You for the recipe, have fun preparing…
    ps, that offer still stands if you want that book…
    JP’s note: Maria, you are so kind. A friend recommended the book early on, and I did order it. I just haven’t had the frame of mind to dive into it yet. I appreciate the kind offer, though. Happy Thanksgiving.

  • Kiran @ KiranTarun.com: Thank you for the recipe, Jennie.
    Thinking of you and the girls during this time. Take care *hugs*…

  • Cassie: Great post! You go girl and thanks for sharing this yummy recipe! *many hugs*

  • Rachel at Foodfix: Hooray for cranberry sauce! Hooray for little moments when you can think of the loss and also smile. I hope you and your girls find peace and comfort on Thanksgiving day.

  • Jessica / Green Skies and Sugar Trips: Love you Jennie, and thinking of you more than ever. I hope your birthday was one with friends and loved ones, and you’ll be in my thoughts this Thanksgiving.
    Proud of you for making this, sometimes the little things are the hardest. <3 xoxo

  • Tracey: Hi Jennie,
    I always felt proud of myself, to a certain extent, to know that I made it through a event. Even though it would be majorly hard,it made me realize that I was strong. So I am proud of you (I know I have said that before). I don’t know what kind of books Maria suggested, but they were very helpful to me. I read and meditated and prayed alot. Just know that your grieveing is done in YOUR way and YOU will get through it the way you can. I know we all have advice(and we mean it in a kind and helpful way). When I was planning my husbands funeral, the priest said to me,” You are young, you will remarry.” Oh my gosh, I was aghast. I couldn’t believe the crassness in the comment. The rudeness in knowing my husband was barely gone and that comment was made. Sheesh. Anyway, God did bless me with Rich—there was a rainbow in my horizon. So even if your circumstances aren’t like mine, let it be known that you will see your rainbows from time to time. We love you too,
    Tracey

  • Shelly: Praying that Thanksgiving will bring you and the girls, some peace and rest.

  • June: We have a favorite saying “the stewin’ is worse than the doin’” and it’s proven true in my life over and over. There’s no easy way to get through the difficult times, only what works best for you. Just know there’s a bunch of us out here pulling for you.

  • Tristen: I am making cranberry sauce today, I don’t know why I’m so emotional about it, but thank you for sharing so much of your life these past few months. For some reason, my heart is truly touched by the way that you express your feelings so truthfully and painfully and this year I have paused before making my cranberry sauce, thinking about you and trying desperately to not take any of this time I have with my sweet little family for granted. Life throws us curveballs and it is not helpful to try to avoid them, but it is advantageous to take on of the good days while they are here. Thank you for your weekly reminder. Thinking about you this week.

  • Annette: I’ve been reading since I found your blog through the peanut butter pie links. I’m so sorry for your loss and have been wanting to write but not knowing the right post or moment. This is it. Thanksgiving marks the two year anniversary of my fiance’s passing unexpectedly from a heart attack — double whammy, as if one or the other weren’t enough separately. I still miss him sorely every day and, like you, replay that day in my mind. None of us can ever know what another feels in grief; there is overlap, but I don’t believe in “I know how you feel.” So I will just say I’m so sorry you’re having to go through this experience, and send you hugs and good wishes for the holiday season.

  • Judy: Wishing you and your girls a peaceful Thanksgiving. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

  • Susan T.: I’m thankful for you sharing your life experiences with us. It has given me different perspectives on life and I so enjoy your wonderful recipes!

  • Diane: I wish you and your girls a very Blessed Thanksgiving…

  • Susan Raider: Jenny,
    This response is just for you. I think it is great that you are doing Thanksgiving. What the psychologist/grief counselor I saw to help my kids through my husband’s passing said was that at least for the first year, try to do things the same for the major holidays. After that it is okay to change it up. For the first year, they need the security of doing the familiar. Funny enough… the counselor I saw for me to help me through said to change it all up so it would not be as hard. I kept it the same for my kids. Some day when I have more time I can share more details if you like.
    Happy Thanksgiving. Give thanks, my dear, for having been lucky enough to have shared your life with Mikey for however limited a time it was. And, give thanks for the gift of your beautiful girls.
    Warmest regards,
    Susan

  • Melissa@IWasBornToCook: Baby steps is the best you can do. I hope this Thanksgiving brings your family just a little bit of peace…hugs.

  • kj: My guy and I had our Thanksgiving dinner last night (we won’t be together on Thursday) and I made this cranberry sauce in Mikey’s memory. It was wonderful and has earned a permanent place on our holiday table. Wishing you peace through the coming days and weeks, Jennie. Your girls are lucky to have such a strong mom.

  • Daphne: Jennie,
    I have been following your site for a few weeks now & have wanted to post a comment but always felt inadequate. But I recently learned some news about an old friend that leads me to not put off anything because none of us have a promise of tommorrow. So, with that, thank you for sharing some of your deepest thoughts with us…giving us a glint into what you are facing each day. May you continue to find strength you didn’t even realize you possessed. Love those girls and keep taking one step at a time. Hugs from us out here!

  • Tara: Hoping that thanksgiving has been better than the dreaded anticipation of it.
    x

  • Cath: I want to make the Chocolate Chess pie….please tell us how….
    Have a blessed Thanksgiving….all of us are thinking of the Perillo girls….

  • Maria Grasso: As I give thanks today, share a meal with friends, you and your daughters will be in my heart and prayers. xo Maria

  • Sue/the view from great island: I can’t really add anything to the wonderful words that so many have already said. Just…thinking of you and your girls.

  • Mona: Keeping you and the girls in my thoughts!

  • Colette: Hi Jennie,
    One day last August I was checking my regular baking blogs and came across a “Pie for Mikey” on Brown Eyed Baker. As I read that post, I cried, like a little baby. I delivered pieces of pie to all those that were dear to me. I told them your story and somehow felt a little better just knowing that I had shared Mikey’s pie and your story. Ever since that day I check in with you to see how you are all doing.
    My husband is Mikey’s age, we have a 4 year old. I felt for you, I still do.
    Even way up here in a tiny Province in Canada…your family has touched mine.
    I’m sending you lots of love to be shared with those beautiful children. May you continue to make it through each day with all the the glory that you deserve.

  • Temothy: I’m not a big fan of cranberry sauce in any form, but this makes me want to try it again. :)

  • Trina: Jennie, your brown butter apple pie recipe is divine. I made a last minute decision to try this out in our rented cabin up in Sequoia National Park. What a hit it was with my husband and two young boys. I hope you get a smile on your face knowing that you changed our Thanksgiving dinner for the better…and that I had to use less butter in the mashed potatoes! I had limited supplies!
    Your writing inspires me. May your blessing continue to multiply as you journey through your grief.
    Trina

  • Michelle W.: Jennie, I came across this article this morning (Monday). I want to share it with you. It speaks of changes coming in the medical (description)relationship of grief and depression. I thought it might interest you, not because I think you’re depressed, but because I thought there were a couple of poignant statements made in the article about how society treats grief these days. As one who has known the loss of a husband, and now a parent, I am familiar with the depths of grief and how it changes us. Grief eventually subsides, but it is always with us, permanently coloring the days and events of our lives. I sympathize for your loss, Jennie, and wish you well as you discover all that is to come, beyond grief and loss, and especially, beyond the lost familiar. With love…
    http://www.utne.com/Mind-Body/Mourning-In-America-Medicalization-Of-Bereavement.aspx?newsletter=1&utm_content=11.28.11+Science+and+Technology&utm_campaign=UTR_ENEWS&utm_source=iPost&utm_medium=email

  • Giselle: Too late Thanksgiving passed but Christmas is here!

  • Lisa: I made this for Christmas lunch. It was wonderful!! Thank you very much for sharing.

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