Candied Cranberries by Rozanne Gold
My cousin, Josh Rovner, knew more about food when he was twelve than most of my friends do now — and this was before the age of non-stop TV cooking shows. He was sophisticated in his taste and whenever this gastronaut's family came to New York, Josh had a knowing list of restaurants that had to be visited. He yearned to be a chef, but I believed my ambitious cousin from North Canton, Ohio, should extend his reach beyond the kitchen. So he went to Cornell and wound up being a big deal "revenue management guru" with Hilton Hotels.
So, I was surprised to receive this exceedingly simple recipe from him, but it is one he treasures. It had been handwritten to Josh by his Nana Gold (my Aunt Helen), sometime around 2000. Helen died at the age of 94 in 2006.
Naturally, Josh has upheld the quintessential American family tradition of serving them at Thanksgiving, but he now makes the sweet-and-tart syrupy confection all year long to spoon over a daily helping of yogurt. Josh keeps the recipe on the side of his refrigerator, so it always is in easy reach. I didn't remember Helen cooking. She was married to my father's brother, Leslie Gold, and they traveled all over the world. They lived in Avon, Massachusetts, not far from my own grandmother, Lottie Gold, who was a fantastic baker. I think of Helen as a solid New Englander with a hankering for lobster and my grandmother's ethereal blueberry muffins.
Josh is now married, lives in Texas, has a beautiful young daughter, and cooks dinner almost every night. He is a total foodie and up to date with every chef and kitchen trend. Aunt Helen's candied cranberries recipe is unusually precise, including altering some ingredient quantities for various batch sizes. Josh always makes the largest amount so he is guaranteed lots of leftovers. Nowadays, he recreates the recipe with a bit of grated orange zest at the end for depth of flavor— “not too much to mask the cranberry, but just enough to enhance and harmonize,” he adds. That said, he quietly confesses that his mother prefers the original recipe. Judging by the photo Josh sent of the finished product, his Nana’s cranberries indeed do look “candied” and glistening.
This is an effect I’ve always wanted but have failed to achieve! It was lovely to learn more about Helen through her recipe and Josh’s remembrance. That's the magic of handwritten.
"Wash cranberries. Drain. Pour in pot. Add sugar. Stir thoroughly. Add water. Stir over medium to high heat. Be careful not to burn. Lower heat and boil for about 15 - 20 minutes. Once berries begin to boil DO NOT STIR. Skim carefully once berries boil. Let cool before transferring to container. Once cool, store in refrigerator!"