This evening I made cranberry sauce to take to Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. It is the cranberry sauce I always make for my family, but I almost lost my nerve. "How much maple syrup should I add to the cranberry sauce?" I asked my traditionalist 17-year-old son. "None," he boomed, as I knew he would. Okay, then. Jamie's Unexpectedly Astringent (and Honestly Sorta Penitential) Cranberry Sauce goes on the road. (I love it. I have a serious sour tooth. The kids expect it. Our hosts...may find it startling.)
The pop of the cranberries in their pan sounded like the season. Oh, man, now that I have written that sentence it sounds like terrible catalog copy. I will probably look back on that sentence and wince. But it is a true sentence. I have been so unsettled, my own discombobulation greatly compounded by the mental health issues of someone close to me, and I took a deep breath when I heard that first familiar pop.
Next I made the sweet potatoes, my mind awhirl with the news of Haldeman's Medium article and Jill Stein's accelerating fundraiser. These are crazy times, are they not? The sweet potatoes taste a little like the cook was distracted, but I think the maple syrup will cover a multitude of sins, just like the Bible says. I took another deep breath when I saw the peeler slicing down the first sweet potato, opening up a slash of orange in the deep red skin. Thanksgiving has the prettiest ingredients. (It's easier for me to say that tonight since I don't have the pale and flabby carcass of a 14-pound turkey sitting in my fridge. I can admire the glossy greens and leave the dead-bird-wrangling to my friends.)
Further distracted cooking: cranberry curd, in which I reversed two of the steps and realized I had skipped dinner. I had thought I'd spread the curd on a hazelnut dacquoise layer, but I...don't feel enthusiastic about making a dacquoise layer tonight. Will Jamie make the beet-fennel-apple salad she had planned, or will she trudge off to bed, her hair festooned with cranberry syrup and mashed sweet potato?
I'm sure the suspense is killing you.