In response to A Henry Halloween, Joanie requested a recipe for pumpkin stuffing – a stuffing for a whole baked pumpkin, that is. Mr. Henry did not send her one. Instead, he admonished her to buck up, embrace the old pioneer spirit, and just make do with whatever dry ingredients happened to be on hand.
Is this fair? Is this kind? Mr. Henry is having a moment of remorse for his flip dismissal of the good Joanie who, after all, asked only that Mr. Henry come clean with his cooking secrets on his own food blog.
But does he want to share? Does he want everyone to know his recipes?
Does he want everyone to know his deepest kitchen secret of all, viz. that he loathes recipes and never fails to tinker with them and that as a consequence he is a perfectly lousy pastry chef?
Does he want the world to know that he resembles exactly every other testosterone-poisoned male and does not like to ask for directions? That he is a pig-headed old coot?
He argues that there are very good reasons for such stubbornness. Whenever he DOES follow directions, things go badly. When he shops open-mindedly, for example, permitting the freshest vegetable to determine the day’s culinary pathway, then nothing ever fails.
A Mr. Henry Dictum: the freshest ingredient determines the choice of the menu.
If you are cooking fish, you must first peruse the fish counter, next nose around in the vegetable bins, and then return to the fish counter. Ignore the annoyed looks of the fishmongers. They specialize in disdain. It is their birthright, an attitude they feel they can assume as recompense for having perpetually fishy fingers.
Meats don’t vary much from day to day, so you may safely build a menu around a market oddity such as fresh baby okra secure in the knowledge that the lamb chops (rubbed with salt and rosemary, then broiled) will be perfect.
OK, but where are the recipes?
With regard to the question of sharing, Mr. Henry embraces the new spirit of the internet generation, namely, that all knowledge should be free, like books in libraries, and that everything of value should be shared without regard for copyright so long as it is not a Henry copyright.
In the selfless, altruistic ethos of Thanksgiving Mr. Henry here proffers his very own recipe for orange cranberry sauce, a recipe he himself invented and developed for over 30 Thanksgivings. Be forewarned, however. THIS SAUCE IS TART.
Mr. Henry foregoes all royalties now and forever, all hard-won remuneration, all possible legacies bequeathed to the Henry generations to come. Yes, he is giving it away.
Buy a bag of cranberries and one navel orange. (Here Mr. Henry is not taking chances with imaginative cooks. Trust me, dear reader, follow this recipe, if indeed it IS a recipe.)
Rinse the berries, pick off any annoying little stems, and throw out the mushy ones. To a heavy pot add the berries, half the sugar and half the water recommended on the package, that is, half a cup of each. (For more orange oomph you may substitute orange juice for water.) Over a medium to low flame bring the berries to a boil and stir, stir, stir. Don’t be gentle. Each berry must pop to let its sour juice mingle with the sugar. Those few recalcitrant ones you can mash with your wooden spoon. Don’t cook it until the berries get leathery, for God’s sake. Do it just enough to get them popped.
While your berries are cooking, grate all the orange skin off the navel. (Mr. Henry prefers the navel because it has thicker rind and more concentrated juice.) When all the berries have popped, take the pot off the fire and mix in the grated orange peel. Slice your navel in half and squeeze with your fingers all its juice into the pot, too. (A bit of orange pulp in the sauce is good.) Transfer it to a large glass bowl and place it on the terrace to cool. (Cover it with foil, by the way, so that the afternoon blue jay doesn’t get more curious than he already is.)