Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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 Hey Chef, What Can I Do With Cranberries?

Child of the Bog


Sacred to the Moon, wearing her colors, named for her totemic bird—reputedly, the stamens of the cranberry flower resemble a crane's bill—the cranberry is a perennial seasonal favorite.

Oh, but its signature tartness partners best with sweetness, for balance.

Bright with orange, dark with date, crunchy with toasted almond, this fruit-sweetened preparation makes a fine natural alternative to the old-style cranberry-orange relish that you grew up with, minus the truly toxic amounts of refined sugar.

Thank Goddess.


Boss Warlock's Fruit-Sweetened Cranberry-Orange Relish


12 oz. (1 bag) cranberries

1-2 cups dates (depending on how sweet you like it)

1 orange, with skin

½ cup slivered almonds



Pick over the cranberries—there are always a few bad ones in every bag—and wash them. Set aside to dry.

Dry-roast the almonds until golden in an ungreased frying pan. Set aside to cool.

Seed the orange if necessary, and cut it up—with skin—into smallish chunks.

Pit and chop dates.

Grind cranberries with dates and chunks of orange to desired consistency. You can use a food processor to do this if you like, though I prefer to use my grandmother's old hand-grinder. (Call it stubbornness.)

Mix in almonds and, if desired, a good, three-finger pinch of salt. A little salt always brings out the sweetness, says Boss Warlock.

Kind of sounds like an old Witch proverb, doesn't it?


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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


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