Isn’t it funny how something mundane or uneventful can trigger a memory so vivid it’s like you’ve traveled back in time? Like when I see or talk to someone about Hawaiian shaved ice, I immediately think of the first time my parents took me to Big Bear Mountain to see snow. My father yelled “don’t eat that!” when he saw this perplexed look on my face as I tried to figure out why some snow was yellow and the rest wasn’t. Or like when I write the word “because.” Every time I do, I remember the afternoon my older brother taught me how to spell the word. This is when we both had bowl haircuts and I had an extensive Osh Kosh B’Gosh wardrobe. We were doing our homework in our quintessential 80’s decorated living room with gray carpet, light gray walls with white and black lacquered accents, on our modular magenta velvet couch. He said, “it’s easy, “ and spelled it out one letter at a time, “b-e-c-a-u-s-e.” And when I write it today, I spell it out in my head, just like he did, and I remember that awful haircut!
I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess this happens to all of us. And if it doesn’t, well, it happens to me all the time, and my latest “trigger” is a little disturbing.
Whenever I think about cranberries—the fruit, the juice, the band, or sauce—I immediately think of sperm. Yes, sperm. Thanks to our lesbian friend—who I’ve nicknamed “Labia Lilly”—I think of sperm when I see or think about cranberries. Just the other day, I heard Dolores O’Riordan warbling “What’s in your head…in your head…ZOMBIE, ZOMBIE, ZOMBIE?” and immedaitely I was like oh that’s a song by The Cranberries and cranberries remind me of cranberry sauce and…..oh yeah, SPERM! Why? I’ll tell you.
Last year, Jonathan and I hosted a “friendsgiving” at our place in San Francisco. Usually we’re with my family for Thanksgiving, but that year we’d traveled the week before to San Diego, because my mother works in retail and couldn’t take the week of Thanksgiving off with the Black Friday sales and such. And since we have a bunch of Bay Area friends who are transplants form the East Coast (the worst travel destination during the Thanksgiving holiday) we figured we’d create our own hodgepodge family of friends and get together—sans drama! Labia Lilly and her lovely partner Samantha were two of the guests. We’d just been to their wedding a few months before, and I knew they were starting to plan for a child. So when they arrived on time (lesbians are very punctual and these two happen to be in the military so, well, enough said) we started chatting about married life and what they had planned for their lesbian nesting schedule.
Samantha had made a giant—and I mean giant—bowl of cranberry sauce, so I was trying to find a place in the fridge for it, and while I was bent over with my head in the vegetable crisper, Labia Lilly asked “if I would be interested in donating sperm to their cause?” I coughed and nearly dropped the punchbowl of apple cranberry sauce, but that was just shock, because I was in fact flattered. Honored to think someone would want to create another slightly different version of me. And then I started to day dream about what a mini version of me would look like and how we’d wear matching clothes, etc. If it was a boy I’d teach him how to smooth-talk girls, and if it were a girl, I’d teach her the difference between pants that make her thighs look fat and those that don’t. And then the doorbell rang and our “friendsgiving” dinner officially started.
To this day, a cranberry of any kind brings me right back to that moment when I was on the brink of being a biological father. As of today, I haven’t fathered any children that I know of, but Labia Lilly and Samantha are preggers and expecting their first born in a few months. But since I wasn’t sure if I’d be asked to sire a child or not, I went ahead and bought some sperm donation cups, which make great spice containers in case you were wondering.
Ginger Mint Cranberry Sauce with Cab Franc
- ¾ cup Cab Franc (dry red wine)
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup water
- 2 cups fresh cranberries (you can use frozen if you need)
- ¼ cup golden raisins
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp grated lime zest and juice from one lime
- 2 tblsp fresh minced mint
- dash of red pepper flakes (optional)
- ½ tsp vegetable pectin thickener
Combine all the ingredients aside from the vegetable pectin, zest, and mint in a small sauce-pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally and let the cranberries soften and burst.
Let the mixture boil for 5 minutes and reduce the heat to medium and add the mint, zest, and vegetable pectin.
Cook for another 15-20 minutes stirring occasionally. Once the mixture feels slightly thicker, like a BBQ sauce, and there’s a trail left behind the spoon when you drag it across the bottom of the pot, it’s done.
Remove the cranberry sauce from the heat, pour it into a bowl and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. And enjoy!