In my family, if it’s a holiday, there’s cranberry salad. In fact, we don’t even call it “cranberry salad” anymore. It’s now known simply as “cranberry”. As in: my mom will ask “do you want to make the cranberry?”
If we’re being honest, when I was a kid I wasn’t all that crazy about it. Mostly cause there’s celery in it and I hate celery. As I’ve gotten older it’s become something I appreciate more and, now that I’ve started eating it instead of passing over it, I’ve found it’s pretty delicious.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that in lieu of tangible things, my family tradition is more about cooking together and breaking bread together. Part of the tradition of the cranberry is making it. When I asked my mom about the origins of the cranberry salad, she told me she remembers it back to my great aunt Catherine. She used to actually grind the cranberries by hand (akin to walking to school uphill both ways in the rain?) cause back then it wasn’t canned. My mom fondly remembers her mom making it for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners only—grinding all the ingredients by hand. Then when my mom started entertaining in the 80’s, her mom showed her how to make it just as my mom has shown my sister and me. It’s legit passed down, guys.
In our little family, though, the cranberry isn’t just for Thanksgiving and Christmas—it makes an appearance at every holiday. This Easter, three girls crowded around my sister’s kitchen island—Rach, mom and me. We slivered celery, segmented oranges, drained canned pineapple, Rachel cut her hand and we assembled the most delicious (cause every year it gets more delicious) cranberry together. We talked and laughed—mostly about Rachel’s cranberry disaster of 2013 but that’s another story.
My sister and I have a photocopy of the recipe written in my Grammy’s hand, all cranberry stained from overuse. Quite simply, it’s us.