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I Can Has Thanksgiving?

I wonder who exactly it is that I need to apply to if I want to borrow a national holiday?

Thanksgiving, I mean. It’s an event that generally passes us by on this side of the Atlantic but, having enjoyed several Thanksgiving dinners in the company of American friends and family, I’ve become quite partial to the event.

Finding no guidance on the matter of who to ask, I thought it best to go straight to the top.

Dear Mr. President,

I would like to borrow, if I may, your Thanksgiving holiday. Given that it has its roots in celebrating harvest bounty and involves eating lots of nice food, it seems like rather a good one to me.

May I remind you that you seem to have Paddy’s Day out on permanent loan, it seems only fair to claw one back.


P.S. Hope you like the cranberry sauce

Cranberry Sauce

Giving thanks with cranberries

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Cranberry Sauce

In anticipation of a positive response from the powers-that-be, I made some of this sauce, adapted slightly from a recipe by Rachel Demuth, which I first came across when I attended a course at her lovely cookery school in Bath. This always gets a whirl at Christmas along with this cheese and nut loaf and is, of course, perfect for Thanksgiving too.

You’ll need:
  • 350g cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick, around 7-8cm long
  • 1 large lemon
  • 150g caster sugar
The Steps:
  • Cut the peel of your lemon away in thin strips.
  • Place the cranberries in a saucepan over a medium heat and pour in around 250ml water – the level of the water should be below the tops of the berries. They’ll release a lot of juice when they’re cooked, especially if they’ve been frozen.
  • Add the cardamom, cloves, star anise, cinnamon and lemon peel.
  • Bring the cranberries to a boil, then simmer slowly until around half of the berries have burst, maybe 10-15 minutes.
  • Juice half of your lemon and add the juice and the sugar to the cranberries. Simmer on a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Taste and add more lemon juice if you like.
  • Allow to cool – the sauce will thicken a bit as it does so – and then refrigerate until needed. It should keep for at least a week in the fridge, only assuming that you haven’t found some meats or cheeses to enjoy it with.
The Variations:
  • I generally make this version but it occurs to me that if I substituted orange peel & juice for the lemon and just added cinnamon and cloves, that would make it rather Christmassy indeed.
The Results:
  • Makes around 500ml or a little more than that.


  1. Tangled Noodle

    By all means, claw one back! This cranberry sauce looks ever so much better than the jellied weirdness that comes out of a can. ‘Sauce’ should never, ever be sliced! But what really caught my eye was the cheese and nut loaf – I’ve never had it before. It’s going on my must-try list . . .

  2. Tim

    Dear Spud,

    You are being much too modest. You have attended proper family Thanksgiving in America. You have attended and even co-hosted at least 4 (moved to Saturday) Thanksgiving dinners here. You have been at least the principal chef on those you co-hosted, and certainly the creative chef savior on the Thanksgiving where the oven didn’t work.

    You need no other authority. You’ve earned your, er, ‘wings’.

    You can haz Thanksgiving.

    [ now, can I have some Cranberry Sauce? ;-) ]

  3. SippitySup

    This is a wonderful cranberry recipe with the hint of the exotic. I am looking for a cranberry recipe to work as my non-traditional version for tomorrow at SippitySup. I think I might borrow one or two flavors from the rendition.

  4. OysterCulture

    Hey, Thanksgiving is all about celebrating what blessings we have, and I for sure feel the benefit of as you pointed out not only getting to know you virtually this past year but hanging out on two different continents. Celebrate it all you like in Ireland, it looks as if you are off to a fantastic start with that cranberry recipe, but know you have a place at my table here as well.

  5. Margaret

    If you want Thanksgiving, get yourself to the Wild Onion in Limerick.

    That’s really all there is to be said about that.

  6. Oisin

    Will be giving that cranberry sauce a spin this Christmas – either in its original splendour or with the orangey variation you mention. Thanks for the recipe!

    BTW the recaptcha this time is “dispels ERIS”, which is very auspicious.

  7. Daily Spud

    Tangled Noodle: Sliced sauce? An abomination, surely. And I do hope you try the cheese and nut loaf – it’s an absolute winner.

    Tim: I’ll cc: your comment witness statement to the President, which is bound to swing it for me :) Meanwhile, you can, of course, have some cranberry sauce. Would you like some nut loaf with that?

    SippitySup: of course you may borrow the flavours, I will be over to see what you do with them

    OysterCulture: I am honoured to be offered a place at your table, I will certainly be there in spirit

    Margaret: thanks for the heads up, I consider myself duly informed!

    Oisin: I guess that you couldn’t really argue with that recaptcha – it does what it says on the form! Meanwhile, the recaptcha I’m looking at right now is “discos Department” – make of that what you will… And of course enjoy the sauce – think I’ll be giving the orange version a whirl myself.

  8. Sophie

    I like the first note a lot! hahahaha,..

    Your cranberry sauce is a divine one!

    I use porto, cranberries, orange juice, orange zest & 1 cinnamon stick & sugar in mine.

  9. Lori

    Ha, ha! Tangled Noodle brings up some of the dirty secrets of Thanksgiving. Not all the table spreads look like the elegant ones advertised. I, too, remember the sliced sauce from a can. Now that I know what cranberry sauce is really meant to be, it is one of my favorite parts of the meal.

    Your letter is great! We do tend to make other cultures quite jealous with a day focused on food, and thankfulness, but food ranks pretty high. Ha, ha! That being said, come St. Patrick’s Day I’m pretty jealous of your fresh Guinness. :) I say borrow away! Especially if you are bringing the cranberry sauce!

  10. Bystander

    There are certain holidays worth borrowing. Children worldwide discovered Halloween (free candy + dressing up = wow!)so adults everywhere should grab one too! Thanksgiving is a great one as it is all about the food. I am not from the US but I do like the side dishes which accompany the meal. I used dried cranberries, all I can get here, pre-soaked them in orange juice and water and did both cranberry dressing (with a dash of port) and a cranberry and apple chutney. Next time I will try the cardamom!

  11. Carol, Simply...Gluten-free

    Dear Spud,

    As an American citizen (who has enjoyed many a St. Patty’s Day) I would be happy to forward your cause and put in a word with President Obama. Although I don’t think he is listening to me right now.

    In the mean time, get a turkey, stuff it, serve with yams and your delish cranberry sauce, make a pumpkin pie, watch American football and eat until you are in a coma and you pretty much have it!


    An All American Gal with Irish Roots

  12. Susan @ SGCC

    Lovely recipe! I usually make mine with orange instead of lemon, but I’m definitely borrowing the star anise and cardamom this year. BTW, if you’re in the mood for an Italian-style Thanksgiving, come on over! ;)

  13. aoife mc

    Oooh hurray! I am definitely doing Thanksgiving this year. It makes so much sense to have a lovely event in November as on our side of the pond, it’s second only to January for the most cruelly dull month of the year.

    I’ve been determined this year to have a fun November, and I’ve been doing pretty well so far what with Come Dine With Me and The Marmarati. So I intend to do a Thanksgiving Dinner in the next two weeks. And I might just have to use your cranberry sauce recipe – looks ‘maaaaaaaaaazing!!!

  14. Toni

    I love the addition of cardamom. It never occurred to me to use it, but it sounds right. And I’ve used orange zest and juice in my cranberry sauce for years and it’s definitely a great match with the cranberries.

    So glad I found your blog! And if you don’t hear from the President, feel free to borrow T-Giving. You don’t have to give it back, either. Just enjoy!!

  15. Daily Spud

    Sophie: I’m liking the sound of your version very much, what with the port ‘n’ all, lovely…

    Lori: why thank you and cheers (or sláinte, even, seeing as you did mention Guinness!)

    Bystander: you are absolutely right, certain holidays are indeed worth borrowing; I might also have to borrow that apple and cranberry chutney idea too :)

    Carol: thanks a mill’ for the Thanksgiving recipe – might have to think of a substitute for the American football but I get the general picture!

    Susan: Italian-style sounds very good to me, just set an extra place at the table and I’m there…

    aoife mc: I think, by all accounts, that you have been doing a very good job of rescuing November from the doldrums – having a Thanksgiving dinner just seems like a natural way to top it off!

    Toni: Hey, thanks so much for dropping by! Glad you found your way here and thanks for the permission to borrow – duly noted :)

  16. Jenni

    Oh, Spud, it will make me so happy to think of you hosting an O’Thanksgiving feast at the same time we’re partaking of ours here:) On behalf of Our President, I’m making you an Honorary American, with full okey-dokey to make stuffing, et al!

    Love the spicing in the cranberries–always been a fan of cardamom.

    My words today are “immoral quasar.” That’s almost worth the price of admission right there!

  17. Natasha - 5 Star Foodie

    Thanksgiving should be an international holiday! I love your cranberry sauce – such incredible flavors with the spices you use here!

  18. sarah

    Boy is there alot of cranberry dishes in the blogger world today! I think yours is one of the better ones and your not even in the U.S.! Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours.

  19. Daily Spud

    Jenni: O’Thanksgiving it is then, thanks for the Presidential seal of approval (by way of UPMAT) – I will wear it proudly! And, for the record, my words today are ‘retracts’ and ‘up’ – we could get together and make a national enquirer headline ‘immoral quasar retracts up’ :D

    Natasha: thanks – I’ve just had some of that cranberry sauce with fresh goats cheese for lunch and it really is quite fine

    sarah: why thank you (and yes, there are, unsurprisingly, rather a lot of cranberries afloat in the blogosphere these days!); likewise wishing a Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours

  20. The Diva on a Diet

    I’m having a laugh and totally loving this post! Indeed, you should have permission to borrow Thanksgiving, especially in light of our co-opting St. Paddy’s Day!!

    Your cranberry sauce is similar to my own. I always add the cardamom, cranberries and cardamom have such a natural affinity. Yum!

  21. Chef E

    Beautiful touch of that cinnamon stick in there! You cracked me up on this one…well, you and your Irish humor are certainly welcome in my house for Thanksgiving…

  22. usb flash drive

    That’s an excellent recipe prepared for the Thanksgiving. I am surely going to give that cranberry sauce a try this Christmas. Hope that my family would also relish it. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

  23. zerrin

    This is a very intersting sauce for me. We don’t have cranberries in Turkey, but I still wonder how this appealing sauce is eaten, just spreading on meat or bread? Wish I could find cranberries here.

  24. Daily Spud

    Diva: I think it would be a good move for international relations to allow reciprocal borrowing of said festivals :D

    Chef E: sounds like I would have many welcomes if I were to travel Stateside for Thanksgiving – I’m feeling all warm and fuzzy now :)

    usb: you’re welcome – enjoy!

    zerrin: well, the US tradition would be to have it alongside turkey, but really, you could have it with any poultry, pork or ham, or, like I do, with a savoury cheese and nut loaf or, say, with baked goats cheese or camembert

  25. we are never full

    LOL. you crack me up w/ your “dear mr. pres” letter. any holiday that is all about food should be shared w/ all nations!

  26. Daily Spud

    Absolutely, couldn’t agree more – we are never full of food holidays! :)

  27. Oisin

    The Christmas version, with the orange, without the star anise and cardamom is currently cooling in a couple of jars. Sweet at the start, there’s a cranberry finish to dry off the back of your teeth. Cold taste test tomorrow.

    Today’s captcha is “the Yuck”. Not this time :)

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