Happy Thanksgiving

cranbeSo there’s ginger in there and jalapeño and cayenne, too — for the most part this is going to be David Tanis’s kicky cranberry sauce in The New York Times. (You will have noticed how fond I am of their food pages.) I added more ginger, and less jalapeño — and also threw in some nigella seeds, because I thought they’d add something subtle, and they did. I’m typing this as I’m about to put the oven on for my Ginger Pig turkey, which has had its dry brine (salt, pepper, a lot of lemon zest) and is now positively eager to climb into the oven.

The great thing about Thanksgiving here in England is there’s no pressure. Don’t feel like making a turkey? Then hey — don’t. No one’s going to yell at you. The thought of making a pumpkin pie intimidating? Sure. But you can choose to be brave. And if it doesn’t work out… well, for the most part, who will know what it was supposed to taste like, anyhow? (Shhhh.)

This American holiday is a strange time here in our house — and not just because I have complicated feelings about the event it celebrates. (Get all thankful with the native people who’ve helped you — then kill ’em all! Right. Swell.)  Both my parents died just at Thanksgiving time, within the space of a couple of years. So I can feel pretty sad in these days, however  thankful I am. But I am lucky: I stand in front of my stove, I surround myself with my family and my friends, I know that the past is never truly past.

Here’s some cranberry sauce to whet your appetite…

1 cup sugar

1 large jalapeño, seeded and finely diced (add another if you are brave)

1 generous tsp nigella seeds

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

2 tablespoon grated ginger

12 ounces/300ish g cranberries (I used frozen — perfectly fine!)

Put sugar, jalapeños, lemon juice, salt, nigella seeds and cayenne in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup water, stir as sugar dissolves and simmer for a couple of minutes. Add ginger and cranberries, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and let mixture cook, stirring occasionally, until cranberries have softened and no liquid remains in pan, about 20 minutes, or a little longer. Relax. The cranberry sauce is the easy part.