beloved traditions

Put Some Food On Your Family With Aunt Wonkette’s Real Cranberry Business

Richard Nixon on Wonkette's Cranberry Business: 'This cranberry business PUNISHES.'The following is our annual repost of Ken Layne’s Real Cranberry Business, because when we bought this bitch we bought the archives too. One hundred and seventy two years from now, “Ken Layne” will be retelling his cranberry business recipe … from the grave!

Each Thanksgiving, we re-post this Holiday Favorite from 2009:

No first lady could even imagine making something as wonderful and perfect as your editor’s famous Wonkette Actual Awesome Real Cranberry Business. It is one of those things that just blows people away, because they assume it must be so hard to make real cranberry relish because why else would we eat that Jell-o’d aspic glob from the can? IT MUST BE SO HARD. No, it isn’t, so stop whining about everything, for once.

This dish takes exactly three minutes to prepare, and another 10 or 15 minutes in the oven, and you don’t even have to think about it. Pre-heat the oven, prepare the cranberries, “slide in the pyrex,” as they say, and just turn the oven off, go outside, enjoy a marijuana cigarette, make snow angels in the trash pile outside the neighboring foreclosure, relax.

Do not forget our other Holiday Recipes for Thanksgiving! Betty Ford’s Chocoholic Icebox Fantasy and Mamie Eisenhower’s Lesbian-Soviet Hockey Rink and Nancy Reagan’s Racial-Transcendence Monkey Bread!

There are many recipes you can find “on the Internet” for fresh cranberry sauce, but you don’t need to do that anymore. Just send this one to your xBox or iPad or whatever and be DONE, done with the search for the ideal cranberry relish recipe.


  • When you’re at the store, get two sacks of fresh cranberries from the produce section. This year, we have found Organic fresh cranberries, for the first time, at the regular supermarket. They are like, a pound each. This will be plenty for eight or so people. Did your relatives refuse to use any kind of birth control, producing a larger family of say, 16 people? Just double the recipe, meaning buy two of whatever, and use twice as much, in the recipe. And “double the recipe” does not mean set the oven to 700 degrees instead of 350. Come on, people.
  • If for some reason you don’t have some basic real cane sugar and a decent bottle of bourbon at home, purchase these things in whatever respectable quantity, so next time (Friday morning) you’ll have this stuff handy. For Buy Nothing Day!
  • Oranges. Buy some of them. Fight Scurvy!

NEXT: Either right now or tomorrow or 30 minutes before carving time — IT DOES NOT MATTER — you wash the cranberries. (The thing that looks like a ’50s space helmet, it is called the colander, fill it with the cranberries and put it under the cold faucet).

Dump said berries in the Pyrex baking dish, like the one people might use for lasagna or baked manicotti. (This is a good time to remove whatever weird stuff the Stephen King characters who pick cranberries might’ve dropped in the bucket: loose teeth, “biker earrings,” etc.) Get the cheese grater and just grate on some sad-but-firm orange, right on the peel, so that the little bits of orange peel fall down upon the lonely berries. It is fine if some bigger chunks — like, half-inch-long shreds, but no bigger than that — fall down there, too. It adds “color” … orange color, in fact. Do this until you’re tired of doing it, at which point there’s probably about three teaspoons’ worth of orange “zest” in the pyrex, with the cranberries. Don’t pick it out and measure it or anything, just show some confidence. For once.

Cut open that poor orange you’ve just Gitmo’d, and squeeze the juice into your cranberry business. Do not drop the orange seeds in there, Jesus christ ….

Now drizzle a couple-five shots of bourbon on the berries. And sprinkle about half a cup of granulated cane sugar over all that. (Generally, cranberry relish recipes call for some insane amount of sugar, like three cups. Do not ruin everything, okay? Using not-so-much sugar produces a tart but still sweet-enough relish that is to be served with savory dishes like turkey and dressing, right? If you want to put this on a peanut butter sandwich, by all means use fifteen cups of sugar and chase it with an “energy drink” or whatever. Let freedom reign.)

Cover the baking dish with foil and put it in the oven. Doesn’t really matter, whatever the oven is set to, which is going to be in the 300-425 range for your general Thanksgiving dishes crowding the oven. You also don’t need to be a dick and start yelling about how somebody needs to move the mac-and-cheese or the brussels sprouts under the broiler (and you SHOULD have simple cut-in-half olive-oil-brushed brussels sprouts under the broiler!) because you must get in your cranberry relish. Anytime is fine, and plus who will be impressed if you keep talking about it, beforehand? They might notice how easy it is to make, and then who are you? You are basically Lou Dobbs Newt Gingrich. So go outside and yell at a Mexican.

Come back inside, and please wash your hands if you were smoking or “playing with the dog” out there, and see what is going on. Are people tense? It is probably time to open a bottle of wine, go ahead and pass around maybe a Petite Syrah, something that will go with maybe some pita chips or apple slices, whatever, try to get people to relax. It is okay to have “Irish Coffees,” too, because it’s daytime.

When the cranberry business is bubbly and the berries have this nice soft-but-firm kind of thing going on, take out the pyrex and let it cool somewhere out of the way. If there’s room in the fridge, you can just put the tray in there once it’s cool to the touch. But there’s no room, jesus just look at all the food in there, plus there are about a million beers for tomorrow, so just scrape it all into something pretty, some kind of thing you might put chutney in, or whatever (ask mom).

Serve and watch how people say, “OMG I only ever had it from a can,” etc.

About the author

A writer and editor of this website from 2006 to early 2012, Ken Layne is occassionally seen on Twitter and writes small books and is already haunting you from beyond (your) grave.

View all articles by Ken Layne
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    1. PsycWench

      If half the Wonketteers followed through with their threats, a heaping plate of lightly salted poison rat dicks.

    2. widestanceromance

      Garrison Keillor has shipped a case of rhubarb pie to each of Willard's houses, but it won't help.

  1. freakishlywrong

    Do not drop the orange seeds in there, Jesus christ
    I fucking love me some Ken Layne. And this cranberry shit. Which rocks.

  2. BaldarTFlagass

    My uncle and aunt own a cranberry bog up in Massachusetts. They are Fox News watchers. Therefore, fuck cranberries.

  3. snowpointsecret

    I like the one I've had the last few years, it has pineapple, jalapeno, and cilantro in it and it's amazing.

    Still, any cranberry sauce that's not out of a can is okay with me.

    1. Jus_Wonderin

      Oh, I love the sound the can stuff makes. Poke a hole with an ice pick.

      Then ssssssssssssssssrcceeec….plunk! Presto!

        1. wapitiscat

          I always find myself slicing it along the lines that the can left. You get like three thick slabs and then maybe eight really thin slices.

      1. widestanceromance

        Same sound as Chris Christie being removed from a van, as one commenter commented here some time ago (James Michael Curley maybe??).

    2. fuflans

      woah! that sounds awesome. i use ginger and orange (and puree, not cook), but i'd love to know about pineapple and (especially) jalapeno.

  4. OneDollarJuana

    One hundred and seventy two years from now, “Ken Layne” will be retelling his cranberry business recipe … from the grave!

    Andrew Breitbart could give you pointers on writing from the grave.

    1. HistoriCat

      You can't – you have to print it out and save it in all of it's late GWB presidency early Obama first term glory.

  5. ShiftyParadigm

    Seeing this recipe makes the holiday REAL. And reminds me that I need to add bourbon to the shopping list. Screw Wal-mart — it would make my life a lot easier if the liquor stores were open on Thanksgiving.

  6. MissTaken

    SorosBot recently enjoyed his first taste of Brussel Sprouts thanks to the Wonkette recipe of years gone by. Thank you, Wonkette, for saving us from shitty food!

        1. SorosBot

          Oh yes, so delicious; it's a wonder Rush can keep his svelte figure with that kind of cuisine. And Miracle Whip the fake mayo goes so well with Jell-O.

    1. finallyhappy

      I find that not unusual- I have eaten brussel sprouts for many years(even when they were boiled- so not so great). I had many co-workers who had never eaten them and would not. Even my broiled brussels with a little butter and maple syrup(it is good- really)

    1. Biel_ze_Bubba

      Now that is an excellent idea! Save the bourbon for the world's best Manhattan:

      3 parts bourbon or rye
      1 part sweet vermouth
      1 part dry vermouth
      1 part real maple syrup
      bitters to taste
      Shake well w/ ice, strain into a cocktail glass (or over ice in an Old Fashioned glass.)
      Garnish w/ cherry or orange.

  7. snowpointsecret

    So is this holiday recipe thing an ongoing trend here?

    … And if so, can it continue? I'm always open to something different. I knew I liked it here!

  8. HempDogbane

    Will you be posting the Kenducken recipe tomorrow? I can't wait until Thursday morning to get all the ingredients.

  9. JustPixelz

    "Now drizzle a couple-five shots of bourbon on the berries"

    I need it more than the berries.

    Never trust a sober cranberry.

    In case of Repubican party takeover, does the recipe work for hobo beans too?

  10. skoalrebel

    Organic fresh cranberries? [spit!] That's just fuckin' gay. Fuckin' elitists with your free-range heirloom Whole Foods turkeys, y'all just make me sick. A real American Thanksgiving has cranberry slop from a can. And the turkey is a Butterball, since that's what Jesus made for the first Thanksgiving. [spit!] You should deep fry the bird, too, out in the front lawn next to the car that's been set up on cinderblocks.

    Pro tip: thaw the Butterball before dropping it in the hot oil.

    1. BaldarTFlagass

      Another pro tip: Gently lower the bird into the hot oil, rather than dropping it in. Saves on emergency room visits.

        1. CindynEncinitas

          The windmill jam into the hot oil! What a splash that will make! Cover up the cars on the lawn first, tho.

    2. Jus_Wonderin

      I think another pro tip for the frying scenario is that one should not use their hands to put the turkey in the vat. Live, and learn.

    3. Biff

      Dennis Haysbert reminds us that 15 people set fire to their doublewides homes while deep-frying birds last year.

  11. FNMA

    This year, my sister isn't making the trip from the People's Republic of Berkeley for the holiday so we'll have to skip our Thanksgiving tradition, which is gathering in my mother's kitchen to do the cooking while drinking all the wine people brought for dinner.

  12. dr_giraud

    It's probably too late for Layne to square off against Susan Stamberg in a cranberry bake-off, snark relish vs. cranberry glop.

  13. BaldarTFlagass

    Nice thing about being a bachelor is, you don't have to cook shit on Thanksgiving. Either accept one of the invitations from your married friends or relatives, or stay home and get shitfaced, nuke some Gino's pizza rolls, and watch the NFL. Of course, you can get shitfaced if you accept one of the invitations, too.

    1. Nopantsmcgee

      I agree. The family has assigned me to bring a 'cheese tray'. I guess they have more trust in me since I didn't fuck up last years instructions to "Bring Diet-Coke".

      1. CindynEncinitas

        They always have me bring burn-n-serve rolls, a leftover joke from my college days. It sort of hurts that they still do it, but it's super cheap and I don't have to mess around in the kitchen. I can watch the NFL and get sauced also, too.

  14. ttommyunger

    If I want cranberry sauce, which I rarely do, I'll buy the stuff that comes out of the can like week-old Jell-0, thank you very much. 'Course, I also think Velveeta is cheese, so I've got that going for me, which is nice….

        1. BaldarTFlagass

          True story. In my youth, I had a job for a couple of years at a dairy warehouse (we unloaded semi-trailers from the actual dairy in Dallas and then loaded the delivery trucks for their restaurant/retail routes). With judicious "whipping" of the real cream topping cans, you could get all the topping to the bottom of the can, and all the propellant would be at the top for easy huffing/buzzing back in the cold vault. We had to back off when the 12-can cases kept coming back from the restaurants because the cream wouldn't come out of the cans because no propellant. The worst abuser ended up with the nickname "Real Cream Roy."

      1. ttommyunger

        Frankly, Scarlett, I don't give a damn. Whatever I can grab first and get the fuck out of there. I hate stores!

  15. gullywompr

    Here's my recipe: Using a pocket knife, slam the blade down forcefully through the top of a can of hobo beans, moving the blade around the rim until there is enough to pry back the lid at least halfway. Then, using the plastic fork you stole from McDonald's last week, eat them.

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

    1. CrunchyKnee

      You've got a pocket knife? We have to whack our can of hobo beans with a rock we fished out of the river.

      1. BaldarTFlagass

        You have a rock? We have to open ours with discarded emery boards we dig out of the dumpster behind the Vietnamese nail salon down at the strip center.

        1. gullywompr

          If you search under the bridges at night, one of the dead guys will eventually have a knife in his pockets. That's how I got mine, anyway.

  16. SorosBot

    Just dining out this year; there's one advantage of being on the opposite side of the country from the parents. Though I will miss my dad's cooking.

  17. Terry

    I do easier cranberries. Wash the cranberries, put them in a pot with just enough water to float them all. Turn on the heat and don't wander off to another task. The cranberries will all start to pop at about the same time. When they're burst, pour in a little orange juice. Stir. Pour in some sugar. Taste. Add more sugar if it needs it. Done. You can get fancy and add spices, depending on your mood. Actually, a little cilantro and cumin makes a great Tex-Mex-y version but I like the simple ones best.

    1. Texan_Bulldog

      My recipe:

      1 bag of cranberries
      1 cup of sugar
      1 cup of orange juice

      Heat them suckers up until they pop & you are done. (This leaves more time for drinking & bitching that Dallas lost … again.)

        1. Texan_Bulldog

          If Jerry Jones had a brain left behind all the botox & eyelid surgery, he'd have drafted RG III instead of keeping that clown Romo.

      1. Terry

        I cheer Dallas losing, but great post other than that.

        My mother has always insisted that the root of the Washington-Dallas football rivalry was because Dallas was the city where Kennedy was shot. Mom is a dyed in the wool Democrat.

          1. Terry

            She has a few other quirks. Whenever the University of Maryland plays a team from North Carolina, we're going to hear a time worn speech about "goddamn Tobacco Road". lol

        1. BaldarTFlagass

          My dad was stationed in DC when I was wee, he used to take me to The Goal Post, a local bar where the Skins guys hung out. One summer Sonny Jurgenson was out with broken wrist, he worked behind the bar (this was back when those guys didn't get paid dick) and used to make me sandwiches, and I was dandled on the knee of the defensive linemen sitting at the bar. They inculcated in me a joy in seeing the Cowboys lose that hasn't left me in 45 years.

          1. Terry

            Wow, that's wonderful! Sonny was a god in our household. Still is, in fact.

            People not from the DC area, or who blow in and out with the political tides, miss the quirky almost small townishness of the place.

        2. finallyhappy

          well, that is as good an explanation as any- living here for 40 years- I never understood the rivalry(or cared).

  18. Goonemeritus

    "One hundred and seventy two years from now, “Ken Layne” will be retelling his cranberry business recipe … from the grave! "

    Ken is way way to bitter to die.

  19. banana_bread

    a) I love you, zombie Ken Layne
    b) I'm totally making this shit
    c) My grandpa used to pick cranberries and he didn't have any piercings, SO THERE

    1. HistoriCat

      No, silly – she bought the rights to your immortal soul. You really should have read the Intense Debate terms of service before signing up.

  20. TootsStansbury

    My inlaws view my cranberry relish as some subversive exotic. They eat it up though! They have no idea how easy it is to make

  21. knuck1es

    I always make my own, with the same recipe but in a saucepan on the stove. It's so satisfying to listen to the cranberries pop. I can't tell you.

  22. ifthethunderdontgetya

    Did somebody say, "From The Grave"?

    A Swedish woman was charged with possession of human skulls and bones, which the prosecution claimed she used for sexual purposes.

    The 37 year-old woman kept at least six skulls, one spine and “a large number of other bones” in her Gothenburg apartment, according to the prosecution’s charge sheet.

    It said she had used the human body parts “for various sexual activities”. The evidence included two CDs entitled “My necrophilia” and “My first experience”.

  23. sundaytrucker

    Don't you have a recipe for cooking a dead hobo? Cuz the one I got in the garage is getting kinda gamey. Thx.

  24. LibertyLover

    Come back inside, and please wash your hands if you were smoking or “playing with the dog”…

    People play with their "dogs" outside? At Thanksgiving? With the family there and all? Whoa. That's kinky.

  25. zyxomma

    I make a live food relish/chutney out of my organic cranberries: Into the Vitamix, place love (always the first ingredient), cranberries, tangerine and zest, 1 small or 1/2 large soaked vanilla bean, Ceylon cinnamon, fresh-ground allspice, and soaked dates. Pulse the Vitamix until blended but still chunky. Can also be made in a food processor.

  26. qwerty42

    Oh, a warning about the stuff you grate — it is called "orange zest" and avoid the white part. It is bitter.

  27. smellypossum

    I'm relieved it wasn't Susan Stamburg re-re- re- telling of her fucking obsession with her Stamburg Family Cranberry Enema AGAIN. FUCK, I'm sick of that.

    And just so I don't sound so hate-filled: Great to have Ken "So go outside and yell at a Mexican" Layne back.

  28. StillGoinGreen

    My T-giving cranberry recipe:

    4oz Svedka vodka
    1oz cranberry juice
    2-10/500 hydrocodone/APAP tablets

    Add additional vodka/cranberry combos until hydrocodone/APAP tablets dissolve and are dispersed throughout the blood stream

  29. natl_[redacted]_cmdr

    Here's another recipe from ReadyMade magazine. You can cook it today and keep it in the fridge. When you cook it, it smells like happiness.

    (Instead of the pear, you can substitue an orange or half a grapefruit, coarsely pureed, peel and all.)

    12 ounces fresh cranberries
    1 firm, ripe pear, cored, quartered, and cut into bite-size pieces
    1 cup water
    1 cup sugar

    Makes about 3 cups

    In a small pan over medium heat, combine the water and sugar and stir until dissolved. When it comes to a boil, add the cranberries and pear. Return to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Cool and refrigerate.

    Yum! Also, you should be drinking the whole time, ideally.

  30. Fr33th0t

    Couple-five shots? Is that two to five or 15 shots total (serious question)

    Oh, and remember the NOBAMA? Now its MOBAMA!

  31. elgin_pelican

    I hate me some cranberries. But every year gotta have a can of them on the table NOT OPEN THANK YOU which my wife did by mistake once.

  32. CindynEncinitas

    There is nothing like reading recipes from a bunch of disaffected snarkmeisters to get me in the holiday mood! I'm going to go duke it out with the other last-minute losers at Vons and then I'll have a drink(s) and then it will REALLY be Thanksgiving. Y'all have fun.

  33. Mojopo

    I made the cran business – huge hit. Even someone who hates cranberry sauce had two servings. I used brown sugar and some honey. You win!

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