Some people have a sentimental attachment to canned cranberry sauce for the holidays. If you'd like to go in a different (and less gelatinous) direction, it's not hard to make cranberry sauce from scratch. It will contain recognizable cranberries, and you can add flavor to it according to your taste, as here with some cayenne and fresh ginger. Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, orange zest and vanilla extract are other good candidates for flavoring homemade cranberry sauce. You can make it up to a day before serving, so it's easy to work into holiday logistics.
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 12-oz package fresh or frozen cranberries, ~4 cups
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger (or 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
Rinse the cranberries in a colander and remove any that are shriveled.
Bring water, sugar and cranberries to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes, until cranberries burst.
Add ginger, salt, and cayenne. Stir thoroughly to combine. Taste a bit of the developing sauce and add more salt and/or cayenne to taste.
Simmer for another 10-15 minutes, until cranberries are very soft.
Remove from heat and cool. Refrigerate if you won't be serving for a while. Return the cranberries to room temperature for serving.