Saturday, November 27, 2010

Time for CeCe Dove's Cranberries in Zinfandel

The day before Thanksgiving, Colby had a seizure while running down the asphalt driveway and landed with all her weight on her face. She scraped along the gravel as she fell. A huge cut and her eyed swelled shut almost instantly. The seizures continued, and so did the falls, until finally, it was time for bed. In the quiet of the night, Craig and I cleaned the house and organized and reorganized all the groceries. We were expecting thirteen people for Thanksgiving dinner. We were more than a little nervous about how to get everything done with Colby seizing and in so much pain from the cuts and swelling.

By the morning, she needed Diastat and Craig and I went into our well oiled triage mindset. We simplified the menu and our vision for how clean and decorated the house would be. Helping the girls find a sense of comfort and peace in the day would be my job, while Craig would orchestrate the feast.

As we negotiated the morning I noticed how grounded in fact we remained, neither of us got emotional, or frustrated about a situation that needed accepting. I thought how this moment, the high expectations of a holiday meal, a house to be filled with thirteen family and friends in a matter of hours, is one where I could easily see a huge fight erupting in the stress. But we did not do that, we stayed on the same team, neither making an enemy of the other.

Coral went to Grandma’s where her endlessly fascinating cousins and uncle were staying, along with her cousin's tiny dog, Cheese. She loves everything about her cousin Cassandra, her long sparkly nails, her Hello Kitty accessories, her voice and vocabulary, but most of all, Coral shines in the attention of this special adult in her life.

Now, for Colby, Diastat, seizures, an injury, only one thing was going to help her find her calm, help her get some distance from the need to cry, and that was a nice long drive. I headed out towards Trumansburg and then Interlaken, taking the high road North. I would drive in one direction until I felt her energy shift, and only then turn around a find a circuitous path home. It took forty five minutes to feel the calm come over her, her body visibly more relaxed, her face, still cut and swollen, but gaining in serenity.

By the time we got home, Colby was fully transitioned to a more peaceful state. She moved from the car, to her stroller where she sat while Craig cooked, enveloped in the smells of butter and sage and Turkey.

I put on the stove my solitary culinary contribution to the meal, CeCe’s Cranberry Sauce. Wine, sugar, cinnamon stick and fresh cranberries. Boiling the sugar and wine down to a syrup I thought about time. Success is often found in giving the time you need to the simplest, most critical ingredients. Today would have been a nightmare without giving Colby the time in a soothing car ride. Without time, this cranberry sauce would be a strange soup. With the time she needed, Colby was able to participate with calm, love and joy in a very fun, and tasty, Thanksgiving feast. With time, this cranberry sauce became a sweet and tart, candied, gleaming red elixir.

CeCe Dove's Cranberries in Zinfandel

1 1/2 c zinfandel wine, any type.
2 c light brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
4 c cranberries washed

Combine wine, sugar and cinnamon and bring to simmer.
Add cranberries, 1 cup at a time until they pop but are still whole. This does not take very long, just a minute or so, depending on if they are cold or room temp.
remove cranberries with slotted spoon to bowl.
When all are cooked, remove cinnamon stick and boil syrup until it is very thick. Then add syrup to bowl of cranberries and serve. Good warm, cool or cold. Awesome leftover condiment!

Three times this amount is one bottle of wine's worth.

CeCe Dove was one of the first cheese-type stores in the Oakland area and she had a column in the local paper.


  1. I am continually inspired by your grace under pressure and your ability to change a bid situation into a good one. Bitter into sweet...just like your sauce.

  2. You inspire me to find calm in the storm! And something about those roads in Ithaca is truly magical - I remember taking Izzy for a much-needed ride - it soothed us both. xo