Jes’s Cranberry Sauce

Step One:  Buy a bag of Ocean Spray cranberries.  Follow the directions on the back. You’ll need sugar and water and a pan and a stove. That’s it Takes 15 minutes if you dawdle.  Pour into the turkey shaped tiny soup tureen reserved for cranberries.  Put the lid on and chill.


Get curious about cranberry recipes that you see on the Internet that involve orange, cinnamon, and ginger.

Step One:  Solicit recipes on Facebook for tried and true.  Never mind that you loathe cranberries.  You love ginger, cinnamon and orange together.  Besides, your mother loves cranberries.

Step Two:  Enjoy the comments from people who are in one of three camps:  loathe cranberries, love Ocean Spray canned sauce with the ridges they use to guide sliced portions, or make sauce from scratch the way grandma did.

Step Three:  Buy a bag of cranberries, cinnamon sticks, a knob of ginger, and a bag of oranges – the great big really pretty orange ones that look good in a cobalt blue bowl, Hyperventilate at the register over the cost. 

Step Four: Send Jes a private message asking for clarification on her recipe.  Wait for her response.

Step Five:    While the turkey is baking, zest two large oranges, peel the ginger with great effort and grate a teaspoon or so.  Jes’s amounts, like any good recipe, are vague.   Scrape knuckles on grater and bleed all over kitchen towel.  Go in search of Band-Aids.

Step Six:  Well bandaged, juice the oranges and several more until you have one cup of juice,  Pick out the seeds. Throw the remains of the oranges outside for the birds

Step Seven:  Bring the orange juice and ½ cup of sugar to boil.  Toss in the cranberries, some of the ginger and the orange zest.  Taste.  Toss in more ginger and orange zest.

Step Eight:  Boil for 10 minutes until cranberries pop.  While boiling think about what a good friend Jes is for someone you’ve spent less than 24 hours of real time with over the course of 20 years.  Remember how she gave you your first paid writing gig.

Step Nine:  Take off the heat and let cool enough to taste again.  Add more ginger and water to thin if necessary.

Step Ten: Remembering that the sauce will thicken as it cools, add more water and put back on the heat.  Bring to a boil again.

Step Eleven:  Toss in the biggest cinnamon stick.  Stir until it’s covered with sauce.  Let cool in the pan.

Step Twelve: Remove the cinnamon stick and spoon into the turkey bowl.  Chill.

Step Thirteen:  Take a photo and send it to Jes with a brief thank you note.

Step Fourteen:  Serve.  Taste.  Note that it tastes like cranberries with the improvement of cinnamon, ginger, and orange.

Step Fifteen:  Two years later meditate on how that was the last personal communication you had with Jes before calling the Albuquerque cops to do a welfare check the following August when she didn’t respond to your shared birthday chat request.  Jes Billings, may she rest in peace.

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