Monday, March 29, 2010
The fruit was in danger of going to waste; if I didn't pick it and do something with it, it would ripen, fall to the ground, and be lost in a mess of long grasses. I had to make marmalade.
I picked a giant bag of fruit, and a few days later, transformed a jumble of juice and pith into a delightfully sunny preserve. This morning I ate some plopped on top of my yogurt. It is tart and a little bitter, with big chunks of peel. It isn't the best marmalade for spreading, though I do plan to try to slather it on a slice of toasted walnut bread very soon. But if I made it again I think I'd put extra effort into cutting the strips of fruit slender and small. It might make for a more traditional marmalade.
As it is, it is more like an orange preserve. And really, preserving is such an apt word for this project. Not only did I save the fruit for future days, but I saved the memory of a little cabin tucked into Dry Creek Valley: spring sun and warmth, dusty vines, long walks and longer talks, too many glasses of wine.
Sunny Orange Marmalade
7 tangerines or oranges (do not peel), preferably organic, washed well, quartered, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 lemons (do not peel), preferably organic, washed well, quartered, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
4 cups water
Bring tangerines, lemons, and water to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes. Let cool slightly. Press parchment directly on surface of marmalade, and refrigerate overnight.
Remove parchment; return saucepan to medium heat. Bring to a simmer, and cook until citrus rinds are very tender, about 30 minutes. Measure mixture, and return to saucepan over medium-high heat. For each cup of mixture, add 3/4 cup sugar. Simmer until a candy thermometer registers 220, about 30 minutes. (Tangerine and lemon flesh should be broken down, and rinds should be translucent.) Plate-test marmalade to make sure it is set. Divide among 4 pint-size sterilized glass jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace at tops. Can in water bath for 15 minutes.
Makes about 4 pint sized jars.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
The bag of greens came straight from a farm in Healdsburg, California and was so good, so green, so fresh that if I could, I would drive there every week to stock up.
I didn't mind the little bug; I like knowing that my food came from the ground and is veritably breathing with life. But when I shared my store over lunch, I was surprised at the shocked looks I endured.
It made me realize not everyone likes to know where their food came from. Sad really, don't you think?
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
The granola in my bowl this morning was another batch made from a recipe I first tried a couple of months ago. I christened it Road Trip Granola after packaging up a bag to send along with friends Ursula and Chris as they drove slowly but surely from San Francisco to New York.
I am pretty sure the granola kept them alive while they maneuvered snow and ice, RV villages, truck stops, and Wal-Marts all across America. Now it sustains me through sunny San Francisco days; maybe it will sustain you too?
P.S. This granola is so good (spicy, sweet, even a tad salty) that it is perfect not only for breakfast but as a mid-afternoon snack, or, even dessert while reading or movie viewing. Just watch out for little oaty crumbs; they will stick to your fingers and the front of your shirt.
Road Trip Granola aka Maple Granola from MS Living February 2010. Makes 7 cups.
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup dried unsweetened coconut chips
1 cup pecans or walnuts, quartered
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (I used a scant 1/4 cup and it turned out fine)
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar (I used 1/4 cup because I didn't want it too sweet. It was perfect!)
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 teaspoon coarse salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup golden raisins
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix together oats, coconut, nuts, syrup, oil, sugar, sesame seeds, salt, and nutmeg. Spread granola in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring every 10 minutes, for 40 minutes. Add raisins, and bake until granola is toasted, about 10 minutes more. Let cool completely.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
I have been trying to feel more virtuous lately, but it has been hard. Longer days inspire evenings filled with cold beers, colorful cocktails, and springy green wines, not springy green leaves that have prudently coated with a slick of olive oil, vinegar, and fresh squeezed lemon.
But sometimes the local abundance helps me maintain the balance I'm searching for right now. Over the weekend I roasted a mess of beets, deep red gems that have found their way into many meals over the past few days.
And instead of tossing the stems and the leaves I washed them, chopped them, and then proceeded to cook them down into a hot red and green mess. I started with a splash of olive oil; when hot I added one finely chopped clove of garlic. Next I threw in all my greens and clamped down a tight lid. The steaming did not take too long, but I did check it occasionally, stirring and adding a bit more water. I finished my beet greens with salt, pepper, and a glug of apple cider vinegar to help add needed bite.
This tangle of greens was so beautiful, so simple, so healthy! For dinner I toasted a big slice of nutty, wheaty bread that I piled with the greens and topped with a poached egg, a drizzle of olive, oil, salt, and pepper.
When I realized how light it still was outside, and thought about how very virtuous I'd been -- for a few minutes anyway -- I decided to drink a negroni.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Friday was a cold and blustry day in San Francisco. It rained a Portland rain: long, gray, and consistent. It made me think of long weekends in my little red kitchen, baking and watching the endless rain fall on dark pine trees.
I decided that instead of writing and revising it would be a baking day.
I needed a hostess gift for a weekend away, but wanted something slightly more austere than bursting chocolate chip cookies or thick brownies. Then I remembered a ginger cookie recipe from the blog Eat Make Read.
When I started the cookie making process, I had plenty of time (I thought) to bake, shower, and pack. But then all of a sudden the clock was ticking and the cookies weren't done. I took them almost directly from cookie sheet to an aluminum foil packet that burned my hands as I walked to the car and made the car -- noisily pelted with more of that delicious gray rain -- smell heavenly as we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and headed north.
For recipes and photos of the finished cookie go here. These ginger cookies were very good. They were chewy and full of molasses and chunks of crystalized ginger and so bite-able, they were almost gone by the time we reached our little cabin.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
But by the time I left, the temperatures had risen. I bought a new, lightweight coat to wear as I maneuvered the city. In the greenmarket there were few spring vegetable offerings, but the tulips -- oh the tulips!
In my dream life I could fill my arms with bouquets of tulips, carry them home, and put them in vases in every room of my house.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
And I am so excited to see what's at the market. When I visited the Union Square Greenmarket in New York City last week you could tell that winter's bite still plagued the northeast. The stalls were still a little spare -- unless you needed apples, winter greens, onions, or potatoes.
Drab vegetables were punctuated by the blooms of spring: pussy willows and tulips, irises, and tiny green starters to nudge into life in a small window box.
After a trip to the grocery store with a list that included greens and good bread, citrus, and fresh yogurt, I am easing back into every day health. The roast chicken with foie gras and brioche croutons is but a memory. So is the compost cookie.
Today's lunch was simple greens topped with an egg and a vinaigrette made from lemon juice, olive oil, and a little drizzle of balsamic alongside a hefty piece of toast. I spread the last bits of bread with honey and made myself a big cup of tea before returning to the desk.
Travel is good, but it's nice to be back in my city.
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
In the meantime, I think spring might be here. I'm so excited. And you?