Sunday, November 21, 2010

Grinding Cranberries

Back when we all lived in those 4 houses in a row Thanksgiving was often at our house. Of course the hope was my father wasn't called out on an ambulance call or had calling hours at the funeral home to tend to but if any such scenarios arose Thanksgiving went on as planned for such happenings were a part of our daily lives.

I loved the anticipation just as much as the dinner itself. My parents always ordered a Butterball turkey from a local family-owned grocery. They'd both go to pick it up. I can still see my father walking into the house with his hat and tie and long coat unbuttoned proudly carrying the thick cardboard box with Tom Turkey inside. He'd strut into the kitchen as if he'd gone to the woods himself in hunt of the perfect bird.
The hustle and bustle was contagious as potatoes were peeled; stale bread cut up; seasonings gathered; squash readied to be split open; pie crusts made from scratch rolled out on floured boards; china taken out of the cupboard; chairs counted; house cleaned-and cranberries crunched.

That's where I came in-grinding the cranberries for my mother as she hurried about while keeping an eye on me. She had a simple, non-fancy, non-electric blender, grinder, mixer thing. It attached tightly to the end of the kitchen table. After the handle with a wooden end was fit into place and a large saucepan was placed on the floor to catch the escaping berry juice, I was good to go. It was time to massacre the waiting fruit.

It was so much fun; putting those dark red berries in the top of the grinder; then pushing them down through as I turned the handle; listening to them pop as they became blops of mush with the juice streaming out and the blobs falling into a waiting bowl. After my mother thought I'd massacred enough berries she handed me some oranges-peeled and sliced- which I'd put into the grinder one at a time for I loved watching the wedges disappear only to reappear as more mush. I did the same for apple slices which were even more fun because they put up a good fight only to momentarily join their fellow fruits in the big yellow bowl.

Somehow I inherited that non-fancy, non-electric blender, grinder, mixer thing. It's in my kitchen cupboard all ready to go-and when it does I'll be thinking of those 4 houses in a row as we gathered in Thanksgiving-enjoying the mush I so proudly prepared.

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