Around the Table with the Burkes: Feeding the Frenzy


The holiday season is excellent for messing up a routine. Parties, outings, travel, family visits… the joyful events that leave us exhausted and not quite sure what day it is (Friday? Right. Friday).

This week began in Pennsylvania for the Burke clan, where meals were less planned than they were thrown together based on the easiest way to feed a crowd of 12 in a hurry.

Saturday we baked a spiral ham, roasted some squash, and mashed potatoes. Easy, quick, large quantities. Though according to my children, ham is “disgusting.” My husband, ham lover, was heartbroken by their declaration.

Sunday was a day for roasted turkey, cranberry sauce, egg noodles, and corn. My cranberry sauce is made fresh from berries, with fresh orange juice, cinnamon, and sugar. I talked briefly with Thea of Lil Rebel Bakery at the last Farmer’s Market I hit up, and we agreed that the key to baking and cooking with cranberries is to keep adding sugar until it tastes good. Fair warning – this sauce is not a health food.

The key to baking and cooking with cranberries is to keep adding sugar until it tastes good.
norah cranberry sauce.jpg

Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 Pound Cranberries

  • 1 Cup Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice

  • 1 Cup Water

  • 1 Cup White Sugar

  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar

  • 1 tsp Cinnamon

Rinse the cranberries and then mix the ingredients together in a medium saucepan. Place on the stovetop over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the liquid starts to boil. Keep stirring until the cranberries start to pop open. Turn the heat down to medium-low and let the sauce simmer for 30-45 minutes.

You can also make this in a crockpot, add all the ingredients to the crockpot and cook on high for 3 hours, then remove the lid and cook another 45 minutes.

Growing up, my family Christmas Eve tradition was joining our close family friends at their home, helping to decorate their tree, and sharing an assortment of weird food (oyster stew and lasagna this year, I admit I missed the pigs in a blanket we made when I was a kid), gifts, and cookies. I have missed out on the tradition for years because of my holiday travel rule, much to the dismay of Kathryn, the matriarch of our friends’ family. She sends me a card every year asking when we’re going to show up, so this year I told my mom to keep our travel plans a secret. I don’t often succeed in surprising people, it was super fun, highly recommend.


On Tuesday, Christmas day, we opened gifts and then traveled back to Matthews. A whirlwind day ended with ham, mashed potatoes, and green beans delivered to our door by a dear friend.

Wednesday was a good day for recovering from travel and ordering takeout.

Thursday my husband took our older kids to Carowinds for Winterfest, and left me and our toddler to patch together dinner on our own: an assortment of chicken nuggets, French fries, and various fruit.

Today I’m going to get back to making my family real food. We’ll have roast beef (sirloin tip roast coated with garlic, onion, salt & pepper, roasted on a rack at 325 for 1.5 hours) for dinner with sweet potatoes from the farmers market and sautéed broccoli. After the last few weeks, I’m really looking forward to a large pile of vegetables for dinner tonight, and getting back to the Market tomorrow!