Mama's Jelly (Cranberry Relish)

This recipe also comes from my mom, who taught me much of what I know in the kitchen. The name, "Mama's Jelly", originates from a family story that actually has nothing to do with this recipe at all - but because its Thanksgiving, and this holiday has a lot to do with family and food, I will recount the tale here before we dive into the recipe.

The "Mama" in this story is my great-great Grandmother, Lena, who I obviously never met. My Great-Aunt Cele (who actually was great) lived in the exact same apartment in NYC since the early 1950s until it was too hard to live on her own. Some years before she moved out of her apartment (around 1999 or so), Aunt Cele was not quite sturdy enough to get something down from a high cabinet in her tiny galley kitchen, so she asked my father for some assistance.

As my Dad was reaching into the deepest reaches of this cabinet, he pushed aside a foil covered jar. Aunt Cele exclaimed, "Be careful with Mama's jelly! Mama made the best jelly...". My dad didn't think much of it until he got home and told my mom the story.

"Mama" had, in fact, been deceased for over 40 years and in the last few years of her life, she probably wasn't making jelly. Suffice it to say, this story, as outrageous as it sounds, is why my family refers to Thanksgiving cranberry relish as "Mama's Jelly."

One bag cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/4 cup crushed pecans or walnuts
1 tablespoon orange rind
Grand Marnier or some liquor, to taste

Bring the cranberries, water and sugar to a boil in a pot and then cook on medium heat for about 15- 30 minutes. Watch that the berries do not burn, but allow them to cook down and loose their shape.

Add the nuts, orange rind and liquor and stir well. Taste and adjust the flavorings as you like.

Allow the cranberry sauce to cool down completely, then transfer to a container in the fridge. As it cools it thickens substantially, so don't be too worried if the mixture still seems too watery.