As much as both my parents love to cook, Thanksgiving was never a holiday we celebrated at home. Generally we went to a cousin's house and she did most of the cooking. Thanksgiving was memorable mainly because it was the day my Dad and step-mom tried to take the annual family photo, so matching outfits were required. My sisters and I were always in Laura Ashley floral dresses with lace collars and my brothers in navy blue Brooks Brothers blazers with khakis. Eventually we were too old for the matching outfits, so my step-mother tried to get us all to wear berets. I didn't understand it then and I still don't.
The only food related Thanksgiving memories I have are from the year my Dad decided to make the turkey from Gourmet the day after Thanksgiving so we could have leftovers. All I remember is that it involved deboning the turkey and my Dad muttering about trying to remember things from his time in surgery. There was a lot of swearing, and a pathetic looking turkey at the end. We never did it again.
A few years ago I started to host Thanksgiving for friends who weren't making the trip home. The largest group we ever had was 7, but it's been fun every time I've done it. Over the years I've made sweet potato gnocchi, stuffed mushrooms for vegetarians, pumpkin whoopie pies, and steak for a person who doesn't eat turkey (he's a communist), along with all the more traditional Thanksgiving items. However my favorite item is still cranberry sauce. I think it's the color or that it's the one thing I could eat the year I wasn't supposed to be eating dairy. It's the only thing that absolutely has to be on the table. This is my favorite cranberry sauce recipe that I've found. It is tart, but that's how I like it. You can add a 1/2 c. of sugar if you like yours a little sweeter.
1 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries
zest of 1/2 a lemon
1 granny smith apple, peeled and diced into small pieces
1 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 c. water
Zest and juice orange into a medium pot. Combine remaining ingredients with juice and zest over medium heat for 15 minutes until liquid is thickened and most cranberries have split. Cool and store for up to 5 days.
If you have a non stick pot, not pan, use that. Cranberry sauce is like making jelly and you'll want to soak the pot right after you pour out the sauce otherwise you'll have a sticky, nasty mess on your hands.