Serve the Cranberry Sauce First

Cranberry sauce on a spoon and a hunk of bread on a white plate. Photo by Cecilia Kennedy

After knocking the cranberries out of my stuffing while trying to imitate the Rockettes in the Macy’s Parade, I decided to just calm down and put out some appetizers.

“Already?” Nate asked. “I just got the turkey in the oven. It’s like 10 a.m. or something.”

“It’s officially Thanksgiving when I’ve pulled my wishbone trying to do a kick line, so yeah, I think we can get started with some apps at least.”

Nate calmly nodded and agreed that maybe I would be better off around stoves and ovens and fire. The cat also finally poked his head out from behind the couch, looked around, and decided he was finally safe from my antics, which included the following: kicking my legs up in the air and yelling, “Whoo!! Whoo!! Nate, watch! Alex, Mom’s still got it! Ouch! No, I don’t! I’m done!”

“Do you need any help, Mom?” Alex asked—not because he was worried about anything I may or may not have pulled, but because he wanted to snack on the items I would put out on the table. Since he’d just finished at least 10 hours of sleeping and a hearty breakfast, he’d naturally be famished.

So, I put Alex to work on a cracker and spread plate, which miraculously made it to the table without any teeth marks in the cheese ball.   Next, there was a slight moment of panic when I couldn’t find the carrots and celery. I assumed that Nate thought they were for the turkey, but I found them and set them on the table, where they remained for at least two hours because no one eats carrots and celery on Thanksgiving Day, unless they are drowned in gravy. Alex then volunteered to pop some popcorn in honor of the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special. Finally, I seriously considered serving the cranberry sauce and bread as appetizers. Here are a few reasons why:

1) I once tried to slather a nice thick slice of turkey with cranberry sauce and I thought to myself, “This isn’t a biscuit! It’s turkey! Ick! Cranberry sauce should go on bread or toast.”

2) I typically serve mashed potatoes and stuffing on Thanksgiving Day. Serving homemade bread in addition to potatoes and stuffing is just overkill, but I really, really like bread, so maybe I could serve it first—just like when we go to fancy restaurants and fill up on bread before our pricey steaks arrive. Then, we’re too full to eat them, but we still order dessert, and when the bill comes, we learn the lesson of the Reckless Rabbit who had to tighten his budget because he loosened his belt. (The Reckless Rabbit is a story/moral that has yet to be told and perhaps illustrated—or readers could just imagine the illustrations, I suppose. Who knows? Maybe it exists somewhere on the Internet. I haven’t checked yet.)

In any case, the cranberry sauce did not make it to the appetizer table, but next year it will. I love to put the sauce on my bread and I’m including the recipe I use from the Cooking Light Magazine (2003) below. Nate and Alex are traditionalists though. They like the mixture of sweet cranberry sauce and savory turkey. Lots of people do, which is why I can’t figure out why carnivals don’t sell cranberry candy apple coated turkey legs. If they don’t, maybe I’ll find a way to make it at home for Nate and Alex. I’ll just have to start practicing now and figuring out how I’ll work this new recipe in around the Macy’s Parade and a possible emergency room visit that will end with a lecture about the Wayward Wallaby Who Wouldn’t Warm-Up.

Cooking Light, November 2003 “Gingered Cranberry Sauce”—page 100


1 ½ cups of sugar

½ cup water

1 small bottle of chopped crystallized ginger

1 package of fresh cranberries

–Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring them to a boil. The directions say to reduce the heat and let them simmer for about nine minutes—or until all of the cranberries pop. I let them simmer a lot longer because I like the sauce to be thicker.

Your Turn: During festive holidays, when several foods are served all at once, which one do you like to eat first?

25 thoughts on “Serve the Cranberry Sauce First

  1. I think people slather cranberry sauce on their turkey because so much of the meat is dry and tasteless. We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Europe and I don’t serve turkey at Xmas thereby avoiding the problem. Before I had to change my regime, we had foie gras on Xmas Day, now we have lobster but there’s only ever just the two of us.

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  2. Being British AND veggie, Thanksgiving and turkey don’t feature in our lives. We do try to cook something posh to go with our Christmas dinner, though it’s usually shop bought, I’m not much of a cook, by skill or motivation. Assuming we have a ‘proper’ Christmas dinner, roast potatoes are a must. And I always save them to eat last. Holiday food is really all about the alcohol, chocolate and treats for me 😉 If the story of the Reckless Rabbit doesn’t come illustrated with Cave Paintings, then I may have to reconsider our reciprocal following. Happy belated Thanksgiving 🙂


    1. Roast potatoes are awesome!!! And I do enjoy a good drink or two, but then again, that’s probably how I get injured doing the kick line for the Rockettes every year. As far as the Reckless Rabbit story goes–I guess I have a book to write and illustrate now:) Cheers!

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  3. I’m not a fan of cranberry sauce or stuffing/dressing. I’m ok with turkey as long as it is not dry because I am not a fan of gravy. I don’t go gaga like many people do over Thanksgiving dinner. In fact we haven’t had one in at least three, maybe four years . . . maybe even longer than that, now that I think about it.

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    1. There are a lot of expectations leading up to the Thanksgiving dinner, so I’ll be happy when maybe someday we can let someone else do the cooking/preparations (i.e. go out to a restaurant), but until then, Alex really looks forward to all of the baking. It’s worth it to see him in the kitchen cooking:)

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