Though too late for those of you who used canned cranberry jelly for Thanksgiving, let me offer you my cherished recipe for Cobra Cranberry Sauce. It was passed to me from my blessed mother who got it from the back of the Ocean Spray bag. Years passed before I realized it was there, and even after that I kept forgetting until the bag is in the trash covered with goo. But "Who needs it!" I cried, and soon so will you.

First, buy two bags of cranberries. I've only seen them in one size, so there shouldn't be an issue there. You'll want two because once you are finished everybody will want your sauce. If they do not see the truth of this immediately, insist upon it. Okay, one is probably enough. Anyway, I recommend shopping at Fry's because they usually carry the berries during the holidays and don't you dare ask if I mean Fry's Electronics. If you even had that thought, slap yourself hard.

While you are at Fry's, YES THE GROCERY STORE, go to the canned fruit section and select a can (Campbell's Soup can size, no, not like the silk screens-would you please be serious for just one minute, please) of whatever appeals to you. I recommend something mellow, like pears, though if you ask my scintillating Auntie Jan-who is something of a culinary overachiever-nothing less than hand picked oranges will do. The wisdom of my selection will become apparent momentarily, however.

Also, make sure you have plenty of sugar on hand, or live near a place where you can steal lots of those little packets. The Author's Café is a good place, they have a whole unprotected bucket of them. Oh, and paper towels.

When I get home after all that shopping, I usually take a nice long nap in preparation for the arduous cooking ahead and maybe you should, too. Wake up, and find something good on TV. Go to your "stove" and put paper towels all around and under your large back burner, as close as you can without the danger that they will be ignited by the heat of the burner. Pat laughed and laughed when he saw me doing this, and I thought that was a little out of line considering he set a burner pan afire making Pasta-Roni a couple weeks ago. You will want to use the back burner because a future step, "Boil the hell out of the sauce" is extremely messy, and if you use a front burner that mess might extend to your kitchen floor. I don't know about you, but Cobra prefers not to bend or stoop.

Get a pot that looks like it could contain your bag of cranberries and can of fruit. My pots are always a little small (but then, I use two bags of cranberries), and this may have something to do with the fabulous success of my sauce or it may not. The only time I had a pot of adequate size with a lid was when circumstances forced me to cook at my splendiferous Aunt Karolyn's house a couple years back. It turns out that when you cook Cobra's Cranberry Sauce with a lid, it takes forever for the mixture to boil down. In fact, she had to show me this trick with some sort of corn powder to thicken it up or else I'd be boiling maybe to this very day. So-no lid, roomy pot optional.

Pour the can of fruit in the pot, plus a cup of sugar (that would be two cans and two cups if you have two bags of cranberries, by the way), or however much sugar looks right (I usually don't have any fancy schmancy measuring tools on hand). Don't put the sugar away yet, you may want more. If you opted for the handpicked oranges, you will have to put water in the mix-one cup per bag or whatever looks right. The instructions on the bag say you should let this combination come to a boil before you add the cranberries, but I always forget and put them in right away. That calls for more stirring, but otherwise seems to work out alright. If you can't fit all the cranberries in at once, that's okay-they'll fit later. Oh, and remove the bright pink ones, they are bitter. Throw in some cinnamon and allspice if you have it, but if you don't don't sweat it. If you use the pellet form of allspice, be sure to warn people about it before they eat the sauce, you do not want anyone to bite down on one of those hard little things, let me tell you what.

Boil the hell out of the sauce. Be warned, the cranberries become very volatile at this point and may explode! But hey, what is life, or cooking for that matter, without a little risk? Stir and stir and stir so the sauce won't burn onto the pan. This is a lengthy portion of the recipe, so feel free to take frequent TV breaks. Add the cranberries that didn't fit before as room in the pot permits.

When what is in your pot looks like cranberry sauce except hot, you are done. Chill and serve most for later, but you will probably not be able to resist eating some hot. Try not to burn your tongue.

Written by Sharon C. McGovern

(From Vol. 25)