Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Grandma's Old Recipe or Can of Ocean Spray: What's on Your Table?

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Grandma's Old Recipe or Can of Ocean Spray: What's on Your Table?

Article excerpt

Fresh or canned? Homemade or packaged? DIY or ASAP?

When the holidays roll around, homemade cranberry compote is a must. Well, unless you prefer that familiar jiggly cylinder of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce, gently sliced, table-side, into jiggly half- inch discs.

Clearly, many still prefer the latter, to the tune of 5,062,500 gallons (more than 70 million cans) every holiday season, according to Ocean Spray, even on holiday tables where everything else is far more labor-intensive.

Pat Arimborgo of Rochelle Park says she spends hours on her annual Thanksgiving meal. And, she proudly adds, "I make everything from scratch, using Mom's and Dad's recipes. My son and I love the sausage stuffing and we all love mashed turnips and potatoes made with chopped onions and sauteed in bacon [fat]. It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without them. But the cranberry sauce comes right out of the can. Why? Because my family insists it has to be on the table."

Jack Hoffman of Bergenfield can relate: "Everything on our table is 'real' except for the cranberry sauce. We always have that can of Ocean Spray cranberry. It's like 'Fiddler on the Roof': 'Tradition!' "

Josephine Spenillo of Riverdale still recalls the year she tried - - unsuccessfully -- to break that tradition. "I decided to make the fresh cranberries and I even hollowed out orange halves to make this really pretty presentation. My family wouldn't even try it. They just wanted the canned stuff!"

On Thanksgiving, cranberry sauce isn't the only bone of contention. Some folks simply have to have their canned gravy, instant stuffing (with or without enhancements), canned sweet potatoes (buried under a heap of melted marshmallows), creamed onions courtesy of Birds Eye, and a few other old favorites that, for some families, never seem to go out of style.

For Terry Milford of West Milford, one of those "classics" is Pillsbury "Poppin' Fresh" biscuits. "We always have the canned cranberry sauce and we have to have those biscuits," she says. "Other than that, everything is made from scratch -- sweet potatoes, stuffing in and out of the bird, turnips, cauliflower in cheese sauce and ... what else? Oh, the turkey."

(Pillsbury clearly appreciates being associated with this holiday and has several Thanksgiving recipes on its website, including one for individual green bean casseroles made in "cups" using the dough from its crescent rolls.)

Some chefs who whip up their own cranberry sauce -- a relatively easy recipe -- may assume they're emulating the Pilgrims. They're not. What we know today as cranberry sauce didn't become popular until the 1930s, after being tossed together by Elizabeth Lee, a cranberry farmer from Monmouth County.

Other farmers and homemakers were most likely making some variation of the stuff back then. …

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