Cranberry Crunch – and Ghosts of Thanksgiving Past


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Some recipes just get you talking about the old days, which is why we love them so much. This is one of those recipes that gets my mother to talking about her childhood. The school lunch ladies often made this around the holidays and she loved it so much that one of them gave her the recipe for it, which has led us to enjoy it for the past couple of generations. Nothing like an heirloom recipe to bring memories back to life, especially around the holidays. Which brings me to my point…

Cranberry Crunch with Whipped Cream

You know, our kids are going to look back on this Thanksgiving the same way you look back on yours as a child. This time of year, I can’t help but think back to when I was a girl, when my Grandaddy and great grandmother were still with us at all of the Thanksgivings we celebrated at their house on Brookline Drive in Huntsville, Alabama. My cousins and I would stay outside as long as we could because the house was so hot from all of the baking. We’d come in when called, eat a plate full of our favorite foods, and rush right back out into our leaf piles and hide and seek games.

Later on, I’d end up sitting up against my grandaddy, my head resting on his shoulder as he worked on a crossword puzzle or told one of his latest jokes to the family, fully content at feeling the warmth of him through his thin cotton shirt and his strong arm around me. He’d lean over at some point and kiss the top of my head and tell me he loved me. It was such a natural gesture for him that I don’t think he even gave it thought when he did, which made me all the more content.

I can’t help but get caught up in those memories this time of year, but I try to stay ever conscious that these Thanksgivings, today, are the ones my kids will remember.

My parents are Grandmama and Grandaddy now. I’m one of the ones at the stove, who put them in the sweater that ended up being so warm it forced them outside to seek a cool breeze away from the oven’s heat.Someday folks will gather on a Thanksgiving day and play a video of this year and one of my kids might walk in during the middle of it and see faces that are no longer with them. They may be the ones finding themselves having to walk out of the room, feeling hurt that no one warned them they were about to hear their Grandaddy’s voice calling out for the first time in nearly fifteen years.

Some parts of the holidays will always be bittersweet when you have loved and been loved, but living in the past should always come full circle as a reminder to live in the moment.

Nowadays I understand the hint of sadness in the eyes of people, even though they are with their family at the holidays. Even though children are sitting up in their laps and siblings and spouses are chattering away while they pass dishes around a table filled with blessings.

Oftentimes, as we look around that table it occurs to us…

someone is missing.

Yes, some folks may be missing from our tables this year, but that isn’t an excuse for you to be. I miss them, too, but there are so many people here with us now waiting to have an arm wrapped around them. Waiting to be told they are loved. Waiting for that one special moment with you that they will someday tell their kids about when they think back to Thanskgiving. Waiting to taste that special recipe you made just for them.

Next year, 2011 will be a Thanksgiving past and it will be added to your reserve of treasured memories for you and all of those around you.

Don’t set yourself so firmly on remembering Thanksgivings past that you forget to put your heart into this one.

Cranberry Crunch 1

You’ll need: Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce, Old Fashioned Oats*, Flour, Brown Sugar, and Butter.

*I use old fashioned but quick will work just as well if that is what you have on hand. You can also use margarine instead of butter and don’t waste a single moment fretting over it! As for brown sugar, I’m using dark because it is my very favorite, but if you have light or prefer light, knock yourself out!

Place your flour, oats, and brown sugar in a bowl

Stir them up.

Add in your butter or margarine and cut that in with a long tined fork.

Like this :)

Now spray a pie plate or 8×8 dish with cooking spray.

And press half of your mixture into the bottom of the pie plate.

Top that with the entire can of cranberry sauce.

I just glob it by spoonfuls on top of my little crust…

Then take that same spoon and spread it around a bit.

Sprinkle remaining topping over cranberry sauce

Bake at 350, uncovered, for 45 minutes to one hour, or until bubbly and browned.

Excellent served with whipped cream or ice cream but you can also serve it as a side dish as well.

Cranberry Crunch
  • 1 Cup oats (I use old fashioned but quick will work)
  • ½ Cup all purpose flour
  • 1- 16 ounce can whole berry cranberry sauce
  • 1 Cup brown sugar (I use dark but light is fine)
  • ½ Cup butter or margarine
  1. Mix the oats, flour, and brown sugar together. Cut in butter.
  2. Pack ½ in bottom of greased pie plate or 8x8 dish.
  3. Spread sauce over crust. Top with remaining crumbs.
  4. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until lightly browned. Excellent served with whipped cream or ice cream.

Some parts of the holidays will always be bittersweet when you

have loved and been loved, but living in the past should always

come full circle as a reminder to live in the moment.

~Christy Jordan. I apologize for quoting myself, but I think it bears repeating.


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  1. Kathy Hall says

    For years, I looked for a recipe for Cranberry Crunch which I enjoyed in the school lunch room when growing up. I could never find one so I made one up. Yours is much better! Will you please ask your mother about a school lunchroom recipe that looked like cinnamon rolls but had peanut butter in them? They had some kind of glaze on them as well. I don’t know what they were called, but I would love to have that recipe as well. I have not seen it in the hundreds of cookbooks that I have. Thank you.

  2. Sally says

    Even better than the recipe (which is awesome) is the reminder “Some parts of the holidays will always be bittersweet when you have loved and been loved, but living in the past should always come full circle as a reminder to live in the moment.”. My parents are recently deceased and I’ve been dreading the holidays – this is a fantastic thing for me to read (and remember).

  3. Hogs'n'Quiches says

    Yum!! I love cranberries (the only tart fruit I can handle) so I eat as much sauce as turkey! This dessert looks wonderful and I can’t wait to try it. I will make it by your recipe first. Then I may try it again with a cream cheese layer tucked in. :) Thank you, Christy!!

  4. Sharon says

    I usually make my sister’s recipe for apple cranberry casserole (similar to this but with apples). But if you use up all your apples to make pies, like I did last year, this is ideal! I must try it.

  5. MARSHA G says

    Christy thank you for the beautiful letter. When I was a little girl I can remember once we had all gathered around the table and blessing was said then each of us had to tell a beautiful memory we were thankful to have of someone that had went on to see Jesus. We always had every loved one at that table even though they were in Heaven looking down on us. I will definitely make this recipe as I normally do not like tart fruit or foods but can’t seem to eat dressing without cranberry sauce of some kind. Have a Blessed day Christy.

  6. Darla says

    I love your pictures and recipes but this time I LOVED the message in your story!
    Thank you so much for reminding us that we need to focus on those still with us!
    Wishing you and your family the best holiday season ever! Thank You again!

  7. Sharon Carson says

    Christy, thank you so much for this post…I am sorely needing it right now. This has been a rough past year for my husband’s family and the fallout will most definitely cast a pall on our holidays. You see, we lost my husband’s 25 year old niece very suddenly at the end of January. She left behind a fiance and a 4 year old son, and we, her family, will be missing her deeply this holiday season. This past spring, her brother took a very important step in his life, and made the choice to enter a Christian-based rehabilitation facility, in an effort to conquer longstanding addiction issues. He is doing well, thank God, and as a result has been asked to stay on at the facility, for training to help counsel new “probationary” residents. While we are thankful for the progress he is making, and proud of his determination to pay it forward, we will not have him at our family’s Thanksgiving or Christmas celebrations this year, due to this commitment. Two other family members are going through bitter divorces in which children are involved. The anticipation of the holidays has me in knots and I confess I have been dreading the season. Until reading this post however, I had not considered the impact my feelings could have on my daughters. They too, will be feeling these losses as well and they will be looking to me for comfort. Your gentle reminder is much appreciated. On a positive note, I am very fortunate to be able to say that two of my nephews, who had been away for several months in basic training through the Air National Guard, are back and will be with us for the holidays. Thanks for the reminder to count my blessings!

  8. Doris says

    Can this be made sucessfully with less butter ??? I was thinking maybe only 1/4 of s stick instead of the whoe stick…or could it be made successfully with lower calorie /lower fat soft margarine ??? gotta watch the cholesterol issues in our family…thanks !!!


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