Years ago, at a PTA luncheon, we were treated to a relish I had never had before. It was fresh and tart and sweet and crunchy and a taste sensation I had not experienced before. I asked if I might have the recipe. It was wonderfully tasty and made me think of something Tom had talked about having as a child. It was late spring and Mary said she would get it to me. Time wandered on and I forgot it. About a month later, in June, when school was out and swimming lessons and picnics were the order of the day, a small envelope arrived in the afternoon mail with a note card inside, inscribed with Mary’s name and initials. She said I would likely not need the recipe for the Festive Cranberry Relish until Thanksgiving, but, she wanted me to have it and to know she hadn’t forgotten me . . .
. . . and I have never forgotten Mary’s kindness.
I still have the card, folded and creased and cranberry stained for at least 25 Thanksgivings. It did remind Tom of the cranberry relish he had at his grandparent’s in Ohio and the girls loved it then and love it still. It is as much a part of our Thanksgiving meal as the turkey itself. Mary, sadly, passed away a few years ago after a battle with cancer, but, I still have her recipe, written in her own hand on the simple and elegant note card that she remembered and took the time to send to me. I pull it out each year, though I know the recipe by heart, and I feel its folds and, in it between the lines of amounts of fruit and measurements, I remember the many good things Mary did and the quiet ways she touched so many of us. It is a simple recipe and a similar one can be found on the back of packages of cranberries this time of year, but, well, you know, to me it is Mary’s cranberry relish and it will always remain a special, once-a-year treat to be savored at our Thanksgiving table.
I made it earlier this evening, right after dinner. Tom helped cut up the apple and wash the oranges, for the whole orange goes in the relish. We both took a small taste before putting it in the refrigerator, where it will mellow over the next two days. I’ll freeze some for when our Minnesota contingency arrives come Christmas, and I’ll find a pretty glass dish to set some in for our Thanksgiving dinner. I’ll smile just a bit as I set it out and send up a prayer of thanks for Mary and such a simple pleasure and for the many years it has remained an integral part of our celebration. I don’t think Mary would mind if I share the recipe and instructions here with you in her words.
Festive Cranberry Relish
2 medium oranges, unpeeled
1 lb fresh cranberries
1 med. apple, cored but unpeeled
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Wash fresh fruit. Trim thin slice from both ends of oranges, cut in half lengthwise. Remove center core. Cut into chunks, whirl in covered electric blender until smooth, add cranberries and apple, blending until finely chopped. Stir in sugar, pineapple and nuts. Chill at least 2 hrs. Relish freezes well.
(I use a food processor)
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