Thanksgiving With (As Always) Cranberry Bread

cranberry nut breadThis is the bread I will be serving at Thanksgiving dinner this year. It is the same bread I made last year, and just about every year since I learned how to turn on the oven. It is the same bread you will see here next year if this blog is still around. It’s cranberry-nut bread, the recipe clipped from the back of a long-ago Ocean Spray bag.

The rest of the menu will be similarly well-worn: roast turkey with the same chestnut stuffing we’ve had since my husband and I shared our first Thanksgiving, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes, squash, creamed onions, apple pie, pumpkin pie.

I may vary the sweet potato treatment a bit from year to year. I add a brussels sprout or two if I the urge strikes me. I like to try new pumpkin pie recipes from time to time. But by and large, the menu is eminently simple and predictable.

This is not because I’m not an adventurous cook (although I’m the first to admit I’m not). It is because Thanksgiving dinner is not about the Cuisine, it’s about the Food. It’s about the familiar, abundant dishes you know will always be on your plate, year after year, dishes that come together to create what my husband calls “the perfect mouthful.” These are things that would be sorely missed if they weren’t on the table. This is food that tastes good without having to fuss with it. It’s food you know you can count on.

Now that I think about it, Thanksgiving dinner is a feast that’s a lot like the family I’ll be sharing it (whether physically or in spirit) with.

So no recipes today. The bread recipe is still on the back of the cranberry bag if you need it, but I suspect you don’t. Just make what you made last year.

Have a beautiful Thanksgiving, everyone!

Post a comment » 7 Comments

  1. Oh gosh…We’ve planned a ham since no one in our family is overly fond of turkey but now I feel the need to run out and get all the fixin’s for the the traditional dinner – maybe the ham will hold over till Christmas? Susan- I’ve enjoyed your blog and your additions to The Fresh Loaf – you are an inspiration! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and holiday season.

    “Trish in Omaha”

  2. I could not agree more Susan. Thanksgiving is being grateful for whatever we have. And ritual is one of the richest things we have. This is a home-y wonderfully written essay. Thank you so much. Happy Thanksgiving.

  3. I’m sure everyone would like to string me up. We never have the same thing from one year to the next. And I agree that it isn’t about cuisine. It’s about my insatiable curiosity when it comes to food. No one complains, but that’s because they don’t have to cook or do the dishes. There have to be some perks for me, right? And your bread sounds delicious. I made a pumpkin cranberry loaf recently that was yum, but I’m definitely not an experienced bread person, so am gathering good ideas . I hope your Thanksgiving is warm and cozy!

  4. Yup, your menu sounds just like ours. Although my mom mixes in some new veggie dishes every year to take pity on her poor vegetarian daughter who doesn’t eat turkey (me). But the cranberry loaf sounds wonderful!

  5. You are so right about this one……..This is about family traditions and the gathering of family and friends. The food is part of the tradition, and while I’m an unabashed tinkerer, this is one meal I don’t tinker with.

    Have great Thanksgiving! (And enjoy that delicious looking bread!)

  6. Have a great Thanksgiving.

  7. Trish, I’m sure you had a great meal, whatever it was! Traditions grow and evolve, and why make something that no one likes? Thanks for the kind words.

    Tanna, you put your finger on it. “Ritual” is just the word I was searching for (and didn’t come up with) when I was writing this. Thanks and happy Thanksgiving!

    Kellypea, if I had someone whose Thanksgiving tradition was to indulge her culinary curiosity, with me as the beneficiary, I seriously doubt I would want to string her up!

    Sugarlaw, I think if I were vegetarian I wouldn’t miss the turkey–there’s so much more to this meal. Happy Thanksgiving!

    Toni, yes, and the gathering of loved ones is even more important than the food!

    Peabody, thank you, you too!

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