Thursday, November 24, 2011

Ohhhh Yeassss I DIH-ihhhhd!

I've been in public radio for 23 years and every year the doyen of the airwaves, Susan Stamberg, has tempted us with her recipe for Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish.   Her mother-in-law clipped  Craig Claiborne's recipe from a 1959 New York Times.  Susan first shared it with the radio world in 1972 on All Things Considered, and she's been sharing it every year since. 

In 2003, she got Sid Caesar to perform the recipe.  In 2004 she managed to steer a conversation about chocolate back to the cranberry dish.  The next year she talked relish with domestic diva Martha Stewart, and in 2006 she lectured listeners about table manners and not refusing unfamiliar dishes like, oh, say Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish. In 2007 she lobbied for the cranberry relish as a football munchie and in 2007 food expert Ruth Reichl gushed about Stamberg's Standby.  

Now, 2010 ... that was a memorable year!  Coolio rapped the recipe.  Listen to it. Honestly, Coolio rapping about Cranberries. "Fetish... for that relish..."

This year, she again brought her tradition to the airwaves. This time she went to the White House to kvetch with the chefs there.  

"It sounds terrible, but tastes terrific," Susan cooed.  

I love the moment in the conversation when the chef says something like, "You do this... and then you do... that and then you throw it all out!  Just kidding. Ha! ha! ha!"   (you have to actually listen to the story, not just read the web version to hear this exchange.)

But, as you know, behind most jokes there's a sliver of truth. Or in this case, a whole big cranberry log of truth. 

Back in '93, I was newly graduated, new married and newly moved to Denver to host All Things Considered. It was the first time I was away from home and confronted with making Thanksgiving dinner for myself, Jason and another young nomad.

So, we bought a turkey and all the fixins, including:

  • 2 cups whole raw cranberries, washed
  • 1 small onion
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons horseradish from a jar ("red is a bit milder than white")

We ground the raw berries and onion together in a food processor. We added the rest of the ingredients, then froze it.  Early Turkey Day morning we pulled it out of the freezer and put it in the frig to thaw. 
Later that night (after my 3-7 p.m. shift on air) we pulled it out of the frig and discovered it was thick, creamy, Pepto Bismol-pink... 

And, NASTY!, in my opinion.  And I'm not alone. Google Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish and you'll see, if anything, the response is passionate. People either love it - or hate it.  One person even takes the hate to a whole new level....  (seriously, pubradio fans who've endured this yearly tradition, watch this video!)
Okay, Freddy Krueger and heavy artillery aside ... you might like it. If you're brave enough to try it. Are you? 


  1. Haha! I wonder if I would like this.It sounds a bit chutneyish.

  2. I don't know 'bout that... but I will say we tried the Honey Baked Ham Cranberry Chutney this year. It was really good!

  3. Hmmm... I am intrigued. I just might need to give it a whirl and report back. ;-)

  4. Please do! Honestly, I think I *might* give it a try again now that my palate has, um, matured. Just not sure I can get Jason to go along with the plan. He still gets that crinkly nose, sneered lip look when I mention our 1st experience with it.