Growing up, I spent Thanksgiving, like all other holidays, at my great Aunt Phil’s house.
Among the regular cast of characters was my Aunty Judy's best friend Sue. Sue was as subtle and laid back as my Aunt was dramatic and boisterous. She was a nurse, with a Masters in divinity from Yale Divinity School.. With her slow Virginia drawl and understated humor, Sue was a balance to the loudness and chaos of our Italian cacophony.
Keep in mind that Thanksgiving at my Aunt Phil’s wasn’t very different from all our other holidays. It, too consisted of antipasta, Italian Wedding soup, manicotti and meatballs, stuffed artichokes, stuffed mushrooms, and finally, when we could barely fit another forkful of food in our stomachs, the requisite turkey and side dishes. Pies for dessert of course, as well as fruit, nuts and Italian cookies.
And so, at this Italian American table, Sue’s chutney stood out to me as being very gourmet and American.
After college, my family celebrations shifted with divorces, deaths, and moves and I often found myself eating Thanksgiving dinner at tables other than my Aunt Phil’s. And in those cases, I always made Sue's chutney.
Each year, I called Sue every November days before Thanksgiving to get the recipe- and we enjoyed an annual talk. We laughed about the same stories and shared the same memories. And each year, I would jot the recipe down on the back of an envelope- or a scrap of paper or a post it note or brown grocery bag and promptly lose it once the chutney was made. I so enjoyed that annual talk with Sue that I didn't mind losing it at all.
And now, at my own Thanksgiving table, I still make Sue’s chutney; I double or triple the recipe since I love eating it not only with my Thanksgiving turkey, but in the days that follow all by itself, or with yogurt or ice cream. I savor it not only for its taste, but for Sue's grace.
Sue's Cranberry Chutney
(Adapted from Connecticut Cooks II: Favorite Recipes by David C. Cole)
Yield: 7 cups
4 cups cranberries
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 cup orange juice
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced apple
1 tbs orange rind
1 tsp ground ginger
- Combine cranberries, sugar and water in a saucepan and cook over medium heat 20-30 minutes
- Remove saucepan from heat and stir in remaining ingredients
- Let cool and refrigerate before serving