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Cranberries and their bogs revisited

My Nov. 4 column was about cranberries from a blue cooler — the story of my annual trek to buy cranberries from a woman whose friends own a cranberry bog in Bandon.

"Until I moved to the coast, I used store-bought cranberries sold in the produce section in plastic bags labeled Ocean Spray," I wrote. "For the last seven years … I have gone to Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Brookings for fresh cranberries" sold out of a blue cooler.

I implied the berries I bought were superior to the ones found in stores. I mentioned that Ocean Spray has a web site that includes a live bog cam. In the column, I said that as I was writing, "I kept a watchful eye on a bog in Lakeville, Massachusetts. Not much was going on but I could see red berries that look just like the berries growing in Bandon."

On Nov. 11, I received the following e-mail:

"Dear Michele Thomas, I'm sure you have some excellent cranberries handpicked in Bandon. I would like to assure you that we in BogLand USofA get those same excellent cranberries dry picked and hand sorted in the Ocean Spray bag at the grocery store. How do I know? I worked for Ocean Spray for 30 years in the research department, and saw the incoming berries. They do keep for many years if well frozen. About 3 miles down my street are the first of the area cranberry bogs which extend through Plymouth County and Cape Cod. The original Ocean Spray plant used to be in my town as well. I think it's great that you're saying nice things about cranberries and it made our local paper. I think they're a great food even if they do need sweetening. Thank you. Carol S., Hanson, MA"

I wrote back to Carol and asked her to please send me the article from her local paper that referenced my cranberry column. Carol responded:

"Hi, Michele, We're having trouble finding the item in our paper. It was not lengthy but referred to your Web site and I read the whole bit there. It was in the Brockton Enterprise (Brockton, Mass.) and you probably can find it by going to their Web site. Do you ever make fresh cranberry orange relish? That's the best and freezes beautifully for years."

I found the Web site and the story by the Enterprise staff posted Nov. 7:

Lakeville "bog cam" drawing hits from as far away as California

LAKEVILLE – When we first heard that OceanSpray had a live "bog cam" looking over one of its cranberry bogs in Lakeville, we didn't think much of it. But we saw an item on the Web last week that indicates there are indeed people checking in. A man who writes for a paper in California recently did a column in which he said he keeps "a watchful eye" on the bog. To read the column from the California click "here." (a link to The Triplicate's Web site)

You can imagine my surprise! The Brockton Enterprise had not only discovered me in Crescent City, but they also think I'm a man.

I wrote back to Carol thanking her for her help in finding the article. I didn't mention that I wasn't a man because Carol seems pretty intelligent and I assume she has figured it out. I did, however, ask Carol if she would please share her favorite cranberry recipe with me and the readers of this column. Carol sent this on Friday:

"Hi, Michele, This is an easy one.

• 2 12 oz bags (6 Cups) of picked over and rinsed berries

• 3 Oranges (Navels are good but I sometimes use Valencias as they are more flavorful, but pick out seeds)

• 2 cups sugar

"Grind berries and oranges with peel somewhat coarsely and stir in sugar.

"Refrigerate for immediate use or freeze for later use.

"This sort of reminds me that my freezer has none and I should get a new supply made. That will come after the church fair is over and that's tomorrow. Today is baking day.

"Cheerio, Carol"

Thank you, Carol, in Hanson, Mass. And thanks to Mimi Stephens, who, after reading the earlier cranberry column, brought over a jar of her homemade cranberry cocktail for my family to try. To both of you, I send my heartfelt thanks for reaching out in ways that remind me what Thanksgiving is all about: caring, sharing and, of course, cranberries.
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