Monday, November 21, 2011

DMM's cranberries

There is one cranberry relish/sauce/whatever you want to call it that I've ever liked and this is it.

But before I share the recipe, allow me a moment to share about the friend who gave it to me.

DMM is Dr. Mayer-Martin.  Her first name is Donna so her self-chosen acronym works either way.  She was my music history professor, mentor, and friend.  I studied with her in Paris where I was the TA for the class that I was also taking.  She would hand me a test or quiz to copy with the instructions "don't look at it."  And I didn't.  Really.  She taught me how to write and was really hard on me when I was dumb.  She was really hard on a lot of people.  In fact, the mention of her name was often met with the rolling of eyes, the slumping of shoulders and the changing of class schedules.  She was tough on her students and tough on herself.  But she was my friend.  She flew to OKC for my wedding and then flew out again that evening just to be there for me.  DMM taught me to not take people's crap and to not use my own crap as an excuse.  She had crazy, unkempt hair and wore a lot of flannel and sensible shoes.  Her mind worked very, VERY quickly and I once documented this quirky email exchange on a former blog.

(I promise the recipe is coming...don't give up yet!)

Email from B to DMM:
I've been in the library this afternoon and evening and we cannot find the Searle. It was on the shelf in the reference area when we looked at it before and now it is nowhere to be found and not behind the circulation desk. I even went floor to floor looking for possible users hiding it, but to no avail. I'm going to look again in the morning (perhaps it took the weekend off), but I thought I would let you know. Also in my studying I realized that I am not clear about holographs. I understood that a holograph was a manuscript entirely in the composer's hand (hence why I thought all of the Beethoven autographs were holographs) but ----- told me this evening that holographs are the completed piece written out in the composer's hand (versus a manscript that is a working-out of the piece, as in all of Beethoven's autographs). Is that correct? If so, then I know that I was incorrect in my assessment of the Beethoven autographs.
Thanks! See you in the morning.

Series of emails from DMM, all received within about 10 minutes:

email #1
searle. sigh....thanks for info. Sources on reserve, etc:--this was going entirely too smoothly
holograph: only in composer's hand
autograph: may have other people (student, editor, etc.) in addition to composer's hand
above 2: may or may not be entire work-though typically a holograph IS an entire work

email #2
a "working-out" of a piece is probably a sketch

email #3
and who the hell other than beethoven would be doing one of his sketches?
excuse my french

email #4
i don't worry overmuch about the delineations between auto and holo for all the confusing reasons we have covered

email #5
luckily all my troubs and trouvs are dead and certainly were not musically literate enough to write their own MSS--so who knows what auto/holo means?  As I've always said to my theory colleagues: I really prefer a truly dead composer

The content probably doesn't mean much to most of you, but it gives you a glimpse of how her mind worked.  DMM passed away about two and a half years ago.  She had been battling cancer and we were living in Atlanta and I had no idea she was even sick.  The day I found out that she had died, I was just about to email her looking for guidance on pursuing doctoral work in musicology.  I miss her a lot.  Her dream was to retire and move to Paris full time.  She kept a Paris real estate book on her desk at the school to look at when she was stressed.  She was just about two years away from retirement when she passed.  Whenever I'm tempted to put off a dream, I think about DMM and how short life can be.

It was fall when I studied in Paris and we had an American Thanksgiving at our school so that all us expats could celebrate together.  And not be obviously American in public, like at a restaurant.  This was 2003 and, in case you don't remember, the French were not exactly our biggest fans.  DMM brought this cranberry dish and, after years of hating cranberries, I loved this!  I asked for the recipe and this is what I received-

DMM's Cranberry Sauce (Relish?)

Bring 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of water, and 1/2 cup of orange juice to a boil.  Add a sack of cranberries (Ocean Spray, etc).  Bring to a boil again.  Add a handful of chopped walnuts (my edit: I also sometimes use pecans) and the grated rind from a large orange.  Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes or so, stire occasionally.  The cranberries will be a-poppin' --most of them split.  Take it off the burner and cool completely before you put it in the fridge or it will get watery.

I just made a double batch to take with me to Thanksgiving dinner.  I tried to take a beautiful picture of it cooling in the pan right after I took it off the burner but I could not get a beautiful picture at all, so here are some ugly pictures.

Do you have a favorite cranberry dish?  I bought a 3-pound bag so I have another pound of cranberries to use up!  And, can we settle this, please?  Sauce?  Relish?  What exactly is this recipe?


  1. I love this!!! (And I miss her so.)

  2. I really like this post. For so many reasons!