When it comes to Thanksgiving, there is only one thing I seem to be expected to do, and that is make the cranberry jelly.
And seeing I have to sit in the kitchen for another twenty minutes, and only stop to stir or skim sometimes, I thought you might possibly need to know about cranberry jelly. It's possible. This is the internet, after all. And real cranberry jelly tastes about a million times better than stuff in tins.
I learned how to make Cranberry Jelly from a wonderful cookbook called Beat This, by Ann Hodgman. (It's more or less out of print, I think, but new and used copies abound on Amazon.)
You take a pound of fresh cranberries, two cups of water, two cups of sugar (I tend to use less, as I like it less sweet), and a pinch of salt.
Wash the cranberries, removing any soft ones.
Bring the water to a boil. Add the cranberries, the sugar and the salt.
Boil for a long time. No, longer than that. About twenty-five minutes, skimming off the pink froth when you notice it, and stirring whenever you remember.
It's done when the cranberries get thick and syrupy: I use a cup of cold water and drip some in -- when the drop holds its shape, you're good.
Then you realise you don't have a jelly mould, but remember that there's always some tupperware somewhere, so you let the cranberry jelly cool off just a little (to avoid melting the tupperware. I know it's not likely. But I worry) and then pour it in. Leave it out until it's cooled enough to refrigerate, and then put it in the fridge. The next day, fill the sink with hot water, hold the mould or the tupperware dish under water for a few seconds, then turn it upside down onto a plate. (Ann Hodgman says here, "If it spills out in a big liquidy burst and gets all over everything, you didn't cook it long enough.")
There. Finally, a useful post.
[Edit to add: yes, I do know you can add orange or lemon zest, almond flavour, a dash of booze, sundry spices, and that you can even do what Todd Klein does and add apples and oranges. But I've always believed in keeping things simple...]
Henry Selick is interviewed about Coraline at Collider. It's a great little video interview.
While, still tanned from China, I talk about Family Christmas Traditions on a video at the Harpers Website.