Stirring up memories
Sassamanash by any other name
December 10, 2003
My son Christopher has always enjoyed cooking. He also likes to kid around. One year when he thought I was getting a bit
lazy in the cranberry sauce department he presented me with a recipe for sauce:
Chris’s Cranberry Sauce
Remove each end of
a can of jellied cranberry sauce. Run a
knife down the inside of the can to loosen the sauce. Gently shake onto a plate and cut into even slices.
Many of us still prefer this recipe
to any other when it’s served up along side steaming turkey and sage
dressing. But nevertheless, I got the
message and expanded my cranberry repertoire.
I didn’t go as far as preparing pemmican—the pre-Pilgrim Native American
delicacy that consists of dried meat pounded into a paste with animal fat,
grain and cranberries. But I did find
many delightful ways to prepare this holiday fruit, and while I hunted them up,
I also learned a little about the cranberry to boot.
native to North America. Long before
the Mayflower came ashore, Native Americans found many uses for sassamanash, as
they called the berries. They made
plenty of pemmican (the berries are an excellent source of vitamin C), which
saved well across the cold northern winters and was handy on long treks. Cranberries also are an excellent source of
dye (ask any cook who has put a stain on her company dress).
The Pilgrims took
right to these bitter little berries.
There is no question that they originally called them crane
berries. But was it because they
observed cranes dining on them, or because the early spring blossoms resemble
the head and bill of a Sandhill crane?
No one knows for sure.
We do know they
are a holiday season tradition throughout the United States and Canada. Lucky, because this is the season when fresh
cranberries are abundant. They’ve been
grown commercially since 1810. The
canned variety—both jellied and whole is available year round. But this is the season to grab a sack or two
in the produce department and cook up some Christmas treats.
Classic Sassamanash (Cranberry)
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
in a saucepan, stir until sugar is dissolved then bring to a boil and simmer
for five minutes.
one pound (4 cups) of clean and picked over cranberries. Simmer the cranberries in the syrup
uncovered without stirring until the cranberry skins pop and the syrup is thick
and clear, about 5 minutes. Skim off any
foam and remove from the heat. Serve
room temperature or chilled.
Luxury Cranberry Sauce
1 can mandarin orange slices,
1 tablespoon Cointreau or other
orange liqueur (or 1 teaspoon orange extract)
1 recipe classic cranberry sauce
each orange slice in half and add to the sauce. Stir in the Cointreau.
Cranberry-Red Pepper Relish
2 red bell peppers—cored, seeded
2 cups cranberries
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
2 jalapeńo peppers (more or less to
1/4 teaspoon salt
all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to
a boil; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has a
jam like consistency, about 30 minutes.
Serve at room temperature.
is as good with ham or roast beef as it is with turkey.
I visited with Jane Miller early in the summer, she shared this delightful
recipe. I saved it until now. But it’s going to become a year-round treat
at our house. I always get enthusiastic
and make more cranberry sauce than my family can ever eat. This is a good way to use the extra. It freezes well, too.
Jane Miller’s Fruit Compote
4 large apples—peeled, cored, and
1 can drained pineapple chunks
1 can whole cranberry sauce (or 1/2
recipe classic cranberry sauce)
into an ovenproof casserole. Top with a combination of 1/2 cup flour, 3/4 cup
brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/3 cup butter and 1 cup
the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for one hour.
a new way to eat cranberries.
Sweetened, dried cranberries (trade-named Craisins) are available in the
dried fruit department at the supermarket.
They are sweet like raisins but very tart. Substitute them for raisins in practically any recipe.
remembered the good the praline-like buttermilk candy recipe that the Circle-K Club
at Bainbridge College and thought the cranberries might be substituted for
pecans. I tried. It’s good.
I named them cralines.
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
Combine and cook for five minutes, then add 1/2 teaspoon
soda. Cook until a soft ball forms in
cold water (235 degrees on a candy thermometer). Add 1 6-ounce package dried cranberries, 1 1/2 tablespoons butter and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
or rum extract. Stir and drop onto
Chunky Cranberry Chocolate
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups oatmeal (old-fashioned
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 6-ounce package dried cranberries
2/3 cup white chocolate chips
oven to 375 degrees.
the butter and sugar together. Add the
eggs and mix well. Combine the dry ingredients and add to the butter mixture in
several additions, blending well. Stir
in the dried cranberries and chocolate chips.
Drop batter by rounded spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet.
for 10-12 minutes until brown. Watch carefully. They cook quickly.
Pumpkin Cranberry Cookies
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup canned or cooked pumpkin
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
oven to 375 degrees.
the butter and sugar together. Mix in
the egg, pumpkin and vanilla. Combine
the dry ingredients. Add dry into wet
ingredients and blend well. Stir in the
dried cranberries. Drop batter by
rounded spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet.
for 10-15 minutes until brown.
one final recipe from my son Chef Chris.
Chris’s Poached Cranberries
1 1/2 cups of balsamic vinegar to a gentle simmer. Add one package (6 ounces) of sweetened dried cranberries. Poach for about 20 minutes, then drain and
cool. Serve as a relish with cooked
pork or turkey.
Chris says your
guests will either love or hate them. We love them, particularly with grilled
pork chops. Good all year!
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Trilla Pando is a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance & the Story Circle Network