Once a year, situated amidst the skyscrapers and concrete abysses of Rockefeller Center is something that should not be missed – a real life, fresh water Cranberry Bog. The breathtaking bog is part of Ocean Spray’s Bog Across America Tour – a real cranberry bog display that travels to different cities just in time for Thanksgiving to share the taste, health and harvest of the cranberry. This is an annual experience – this season marks the 13th year Ocean Spray has brought the pop-up Bog to New York City.
Thanksgiving Boot Camp
Ocean Spray’s Bog Across America tradition changes a bit each season. From a classroom for children to learn about the harvest of the cranberry, to a variety of interactive activities to help hostesses and chefs prepare for the upcoming holiday – these events are not only educational but meant to be an inspirational way to get excited for the Thanksgiving feast. This year Ocean Spray, the nearly 90-year-old cranberry cooperative and Thanksgiving expert, came to New York with cranberry farm owner/expert grandmas, or CranMas, to whisk first-timers into holiday hosting shape at a Thanksgiving Boot Camp.
Meet the CranMas
The best helpers are those who know the holiday best – grandmas, or as Ocean Spray calls them, CranMas! The CranMas, an elite group of multi–generational Ocean Spray farmer grandmas, were on hand to offer their time-tested wisdom and advice to first-time Thanksgiving hosts at the Rockefeller Bog. These expert CranMas hosted Ocean Spray’s Thanksgiving Boot Camp which included various stations to share their extensive time-tested knowledge on hosting and cooking Thanksgiving dinner.
Setting the Scene
First impressions set the scene, and there’s nothing more heart warming then stepping into a beautifully decorated, festive room with loved ones, friends and family. During the Thanksgiving Bootcamp we met with Ocean Spray’s CranMa Sue Gilmore to get expert decorating tips to help first-time hosts tackle all the necessary steps to pull off a successful soirée. She suggested using mismatched plates and china to add a bit of nostalgia, and to mix and match glassware to create table top interest. There’s more than just the table top – flower arrangements can really make the scene pop as well. CranMa Sue suggested to add (faux) fruits to the flowers – or even better, creating a DIY cranberry centerpiece. The cranberry globe seen above was created with cranberries that were stuck into a foam ball with toothpicks, the perfect DIY for kids!
Welcoming Your Guests
A festive cocktail sets the scene for the entire party. What to serve for Thanksgiving? The perfect drink is one that has a hint of a harvest theme, and colorful hue to match that of the decor. Ocean Spray CranMa Diane Moss shared with us her Cassini Cocktail recipe which fits both of these tips:
- 2 ounces Vodka
- 2 ounces Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail
- 1/2 ounce cassis (black currant liquor)
- Ocean Spray Fresh Cranberries as a garnish
- Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Shake ingredients and strain. Garnish with fresh cranberries.
CranMa Diane also shard that she sets up a separate self-serve entertaining area in another room to ease congestion in the kitchen. She suggested including appetizers, drinks, and one signature cocktail at this station. A brilliant tip that we will be mimicking at our own upcoming celebration!
It was amazing to hear directly from multi-generational Ocean Spray Grower-Owners on their expert tips. The Holiday Hacks Bootcamp was hosted by Ocean Spray CranMa Mary Ann Lee, from Tabernacle, New Jersey. She shared with us many tips – one of which is so easy and perfect for kids I can’t believe I never thought of it. She uses fun fall shaped cookie cutters to create shapes in the cranberry sauce. How brilliant is that? Mary Ann also shared her Sweet Potato Souffle recipe which is so easy to make (and was absolutely delicious!):
- 2 cups grated raw sweet potato
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup granulated white sugar, 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice, 3/4 teaspoon salt
- Grate sweet potato. Combine eggs, white and brown sugar, milk, salt, and spices in a bowl. Add sweet potato and butter and mix thoroughly. Put in a buttered 1 1/2 quart souffle dish , casserole, or pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
Dinner in the Bog
After the Thanksgiving Boot camp – our group was invited to sit down for a delicious dinner right INSIDE the bog to share the harvest with friends, and to try some of the recipes that we just learned from the class. How incredible is that?
The amazing table scene – including the same flower arrangements that we just learned about in the Boot Camp.
Real cranberries under our feet!
The beautiful table setting. Love the on-trend rose gold utensils.
How amazing to sit directly in cranberries!
Sharing a feast with our new Thanksgiving Boot Camp friends!
An absolutely beautiful meal. My favorite – the amazing Sweet Potato Souffle (recipe shared above!)
A Thanksgiving feast I will never forget.
Couldn’t make it to Reockefeller Center? No need to fear, CranMa is here! From Nov 1 through Thanksgiving Day, first-time hosts, chefs, and those who need a few more tips can get time-tested advice to ease their meal planning anxiety courtesy of Ocean Spray’s virtual CranMa, who is available to chat on Facebook Messenger. CranMa can help with everything from tackling the turkey to mastering fixings like cranberry sauce and stuffing. Aren’t CranMa’s the best?
More information on Ocean Spray, view more recipes, and see hacks from Ocean Spray’s CranMa’s on how to win Thanksgiving HERE