My Thanksgiving Lesson

I know what you’re thinking: why are we writing about cranberry sauce twice in a row? Well, for one thing:  it’s Thanksgiving, but also, if you read on you’ll find out why this cranberry sauce post is different than the one below it. Maxine and I both decided to look for a new cranberry sauce for this year’s Thanksgiving, but my quest for a twist on this Thanksgiving staple had a very different ending.

Find out why after the jump!As I was saying, I wanted a new cranberry sauce for this year’s Thanksgiving meal. Of course the traditional cranberry sauce I made last year was good, but this year I wanted something dazzling, something that would inspire “oohs” and “aahs” from my family and maybe even you, dear Chew on That readers.

I browsed through the cranberry sauce recipes on Recipe4Living and I even used Food Blog Search, a great way to find recipes from food blogs. Most of what I found incorporated apples or some kind of liquor (like bourbon whiskey or Grand Marnier), but neither was quite what I was looking for. I wanted something with a unique flavor, something different and very fall-esque. I finally came across a Ginger Pecan Cranberry Sauce from that sounded magnificent and she even had a cute little video to go along with her recipe.

The recipe had honey, orange juice, orange zest, brown sugar and of course ginger, pecans, and cranberries. “What’s not to like? ” I thought.

So I made it and began by boiling my orange juice, orange zest, ginger powder, and brown sugar. After it came to a boil, I added honey and cranberries. Before I added the cranberries, I took a look at my base, an orange mixture of gooey sweetness that smelled pretty terrific. It was not as simple as a sugar water base but it certainly seemed promising.

After the cranberries popped out their juices, I let the mixture simmer for 10 minutes, added my pecans, and ended up with this dark, thick, gooey terrific looking sauce.

Now for the taste test: I dipped in my spoon, gave it a lick, and found myself, well, completely disappointed. I called my mom into the kitchen to taste it. I thought that maybe my tastebuds weren’t working properly and I needed a second opinion. She dipped in her spoon, gave it a taste and wound up with the same blank stare.

It wasn’t that the sauce was bad. It had flavor, it had tang, it had nuttiness. It’s just that it wasn’t Thanksgiving for us. Every year, my mom makes the same traditional cranberry sauce, and this sauce was far from traditional. We liked it, it just wasn’t what we wanted with our Thanksgiving meal.

So I’d like to share the lesson I learned from this experience:

Thanksgiving does not need to be spruced up. Thanksgiving is perfect the way it is. Why do you think we look forward to our turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce so much every year? Because we like it the way it is! Thanksgiving is a holiday about traditional foods and they need not be messed with.

Prior to this cranberry sauce incident, I nearly had an argument with my mom when she planned our Thanksgiving menu and used all the same recipes as last year. I wanted to use new, inventive and different recipes. But now, with this realization, I have no idea who I was trying to impress. At the end of the day, all we want to eat is good food and I’m grateful my mom didn’t scrap all our good food from the menu. Frankly, I could eat a meal like last year’s Thanksgiving every week, let alone every year, so why would I want to take that away the one time of year I do have it?

As for the cranberry sauce, this isn’t to say that pear cranberry sauce doesn’t sound good or that this ginger pecan cranberry sauce is going to waste either. Don’t worry, we tucked it away in a tupperware container and we’re probably going to use it to make Cranberry Chicken sometime in December. By all means, the recipe is still great, it just wasn’t what we were looking for at our Thanksgiving table.

So go on and enjoy your Thanksgivings and don’t be afraid to use last year’s recipes. Your holiday table wouldn’t be the same without them!

Ginger Pecan Cranberry Sauce

This recipe originally came from It’s a fall version of the traditional cranberry sauce! You can serve this at Thanksgiving or use it on chicken breasts for a quick and easy dinner.


2 Tbs. brown sugar
1 C. orange juice
1 tsp. orange zest
2 tsp. ginger powder
1 12-oz. pkg. cranberries
1/2 C. honey
1/4 C. chopped and toasted pecans


Bring orange juice, orange zest, brown sugar and ginger powder to a boil. Add cranberries and honey. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes. Add pecans. Stir, transfer to a bowl and let chill in refrigerator for a couple of hours.

More Cranberry Sauce Recipes:
Orange Cranberry Sauce
Traditional Cranberry Sauce
Pear Cranberry Sauce
Easy Cranberry Sauce
Fresh Cranberry Sauce

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  • Reeni

    I think you make a good point. Go with the tried and true recipes, the family favorites so as not to dissapoint anyone. Leave the new recipes for a rainy day. The cranberry sauce does sound delicious!

  • Cyndi

    Should you decide to try yet one more Cranberry yummy… The following has become our traditional Cranberry Sauce:

    Cranapple Chutney

    1 bag of Cranberries (12 – 16 oz)
    2 cups Sugar
    1 cup Orange Juice (pineapple-orange is good, too!)
    1 large Apple, peeled and chopped
    1/2 cup Raisins
    Pinch of Cinnamon
    Pinch of Cloves

    Place all into a non-reactive pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer for 20 minutes. Place in jars and enjoy!

  • Pat

    This is a very tried and true reasoning as my mother has always said “Its not what goes into the pot thats important its what comes out of it” Tried and true family favorites always win out over new and delicious

  • Melissa

    Just saw this post. It’s funny, I had the same thought going into Thanksgiving this year. I was going to try some new fancy recipes but then I restrained myself and stuck with simplicity. I’m glad I did and I completely understand what you mean about this sauce.

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