Beluga spots a bag of red marbles in our refrigerator and exclaims, “Cranberry sauce!” He is hungry and wants to eat it straight away. “The berries are raw, and sour. We have to make cranberry sauce,” I tell him. He thinks for half a moment and then begins chanting: “Make cranberry sauce, make cranberry sauce…,” parading back and forth in front of the fridge. Thanksgiving is just a couple days away. So, I tell him, “Let’s make cranberry sauce right now.” He’s ecstatic.
I bring his high chair over to the sink. I help him rip open the plastic bag, and he dumps the berries into a colander. Water pours over them as we sift through and select out their imperfect companions. As I get another bowl, I hear Beluga panic.
“Crawbwee own ain!”
“ab it ow!”
He’s practically having a tantrum. Upset, and even more upset that I don’t understand him. So I ask him to repeat himself.
“Cranberry down drain! Grab it out!”
Oh. I put my hand down into the sink and retrieve the precious red berry. Crisis averted.
He nibbles a few and I don’t blame him. They’re beautiful. That sour kick gets him and he spits them out.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what comes next. Sweet and tart go together, they balance each other out and make each other better. I open our baking cabinet to retrieve that other all-important ingredient. And as I reach for the yellow box, Beluga shouts, “I see sugar!” Mingus hears his little brother’s announcement and saunters into the kitchen. Beluga then stands pouring sugar into a bowl, while William takes up his position on the bench.
Beluga carefully transfers the cranberries into the bowl. I’m waiting for Mingus to ask for the box, but he happily pokes his fingers into the poured sugar – over and over.
“Mommy, I’m tasting… it’s good.”
As the last cranberries cover the sugar, Mingus asserts, “I need my little spot back.”
Beluga claps his hands to give his brother room over the bowl and Mingus sinks his fingers through the berries to the sugar below.
Together, the brothers stir. I hand Mingus a cup of water, which he pours into the bowl. He contemplates the mixture and says, “I want to put more sugar in.” And so Beluga dumps another pile of sugar on top and stirs again. When I ask Mingus if he’d like to zest a lemon, he’s still fixated on “tasting”.
“You do it.”
Usually, it’s a favorite activity. Ok by me. I zest a lemon into the bowl, as Beluga incorporates it into the rest of the mixture.
I hold Beluga up so that he can operate the microwave, “Push 1… push 0… push 0… again… now push start” Ten minutes later, the cranberries have popped, the liquid is thick. Beluga clamors for a taste, so I scoop a wee serving into his dish, spread it around – cooling it off – so he can enjoy the gooey fruit of his labor:)
- 12 oz bag of Fresh Cranberries
- 1 cup Sugar
- 1 cup Water
- Variations: the zest of a lemon or orange, 1 cup of raspberries, ¼ tsp nutmeg, ¼ tsp allspice, ½ tsp cinnamon
- To set up the activity, get out a colander and the cranberries, and bring a chair over to the sink.
- A child can empty the bag of cranberries into the colander, wash them and pick out any cranberries that are not in the best condition.
- Then, bring out the sugar.
- Pour the sugar, water and cranberries into a microwave safe bowl.
- Add any additional ingredients, such as lemon zest or spices. This is the time for the kids to get creative and have fun. It also works to seperate the cranberries into a few smaller bowls, so that they can season each differently.
- Microwave for ten minutes.
- Let cool and set in the fridge.