Saturday, January 4, 2014

In The Kitchen: Marmalade and Candied Citrus Peel

The new year is starting with very little planning and more serendipitous action.  Every year I have begun it with resolutions, promises, a well planned calendar and lots of goals!  There is an accompanying 'to-do' list that expands over the year but is mainly to break down goals into doable chunks.  Yet, alas, in reflection on New Year's Eve, I do seem to only achieve 50% of what I had planned. Big released.  I think we all know why?  Life has a habit of not honoring our personal boundaries and goals when we have a lot to do.  Since we do not live in a bubble we are often waylaid by the daily challenges of being engaged in the lives of our co-workers, friends, family, our communities and routines that get waylaid.  

This year, I have reduced my priorities to basic things like pay attention to good health practices (exercise and fresh whole foods), reduce clutter (an on-going process), keep work at work, do something creative everyday and keep one on-going project alive that you can, should you wish to, follow on my historical clothing blog:  La Chatelaine Chocolat.  That being said, I have taken the last few days before I return to work as an educator, to relax, recharge and have fun.  Having fun for me is putting my hands to work cooking, sewing or some sort of creative endeavor.

My parents have several citrus trees in their 'back 40' as my Dad calls it.  (It isn't really 40 acres and there is no mule) but a nice size yard with 3 citrus trees: orange, grapefruit and Meyers lemon.  I picked a huge bag full of the oranges and the lemons and decided to make marmalade and candied citrus peel.  I haven't done this in such a long time and as I want to improve on the quality of food I eat and share, I thought I would give it a go.

Today, I finished up the marmalade and made the candied peel. What recipes did I use?  Well, between my 1950's Joy of Cooking by Rombauer (the new versions having nothing about canning at all in them), Tart and Sweet by Kelly Geary and Jessie Knadler and my own limited experience, I made the marmalade.

I used:
4 medium size oranges
3 lemons
All quartered and seeded and boiled in 3 cups of water the night before and allowed to sit 18 hours.

Today, I shredded the orange and lemon wedges and and returned it to the liquid it was in and boiled it.

The back enameled pot has the oranges and lemons before sugar is added.  The forefront is
the first boiling of the candied peel.
The marmalade was allowed to boil for 1 hour then I added 3 cups of sugar - I used an organic brand sold at Trader Joes.  I boiled the mixture until it reached jelly stage 220 F and used the chilled plate method to be sure it was ready.  The one thing I learned or was reminded about was to keep the marmalade moving. Stirring constantly...can't walk away - scorched marmalade is not tasty! (And, no I didn't scorch it but nearly did!)

In the meantime I sterilized my jars, and screw-tops and washed the lids.  When the marmalade reached the desired carmel color I filled the hot jars up to a 1/4 inch and sealed them.  The sealed jars went into a hot water bath for 10 mins.

Prepping the hot marmalade for hot processing in boiling water.

Hot water processing.

Finished product.
I love hearing the little 'ping!' when the seal solidifies.  Next I worked on the candied peel.

I used:
3 medium sized oranges
2 Meyers lemons

I removed the peel with as much pith attached as possible.  The peel was then shredded - sliced into strips.

In 2" of water, I brought the peel to a boil - removed and strained off the water.  This was repeated twice more to remove as much of the bitterness as possible.

After the rinsing boils, I put in the pot 1 cup of water and 2 cups of sugar and then brought to a boil.  The rind was added and the lot was boiled till the strips were translucent.  I prepared another jar - sterilized it - and when I poured the boiled rind into a sieve, the sugary liquid was captured to use as an orange/lemon syrup in cocktails or another culinary dish.

I allowed the candied rind to drain on a rack with parchment paper under neath to catch the drips for easy clean-up.

Candied rind fresh out the pot.
I decided to use a super fine sugar to coat the candied rind - it is what I had on hand...having used up my granular sugar stock in both processes.  I put the sugar in a large wide bowl, about 1 cup, then added the rind.  The rind was sticking to the rack, so I had to pull a lot of it off.  As I moved the rind about in the sugar they separated from each other and was well coated.  I let it sit a minute and then dusted them again in the sugar.  The sugared rind then sat on the parchment to cool and dry.

Sugaring the rind.
Once cooled, you can store it in an airtight container.  I didn't follow the recipe exactly but I used the Sweet Paul recipe in the Winter 2013 issue.

One of my 2014 goals is to eat less processed food and rely on home cooking to regulate my diet. By making your own jams and preserves and 'candy' you can control how much sugar you use. This batch of marmalade is sweet but more tangy than store bought marmalades. I didn't use the full amount of sugar stated in either book I used as a reference.   I had fun doing this and I am looking around to see what else I can make...

If you try this, please let me know what you made and how it came out.  The resources I mentioned above are great for the novice jam maker.    Bon appetit!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

A new year has begun and when I look back at 2013, I see that I was able to accomplish many things, one of which was to start this blog.  My goals this year are simple:  To continue to live and breath a creative life.  I keep reflecting on whether I have actually achieved that.  When you work a full time job it is often hard to see past all the anxiety of the weeks work and commuting to note:  Hey!, I am doing something creative everyday or at least most days!  Feeling frustrated that I haven't been able to keep up with my new blog.  Losing sight of my vision for this blog in the craziness and excitement getting ready for the holidays has been slowly undermining my focus and motivation to keep trying.  That being said, I can but try.  My main focus or the foundation of my New Year's Resolutions is to maintain my four agreements (by Don Miguel Ruiz):

Keeping these simple guidelines in mind, I hope to figure out how to prioritize and organize my time so that its is manageable - doable.   Fitting creativity around a weekly job that is not 9-5 in many cases - I am a teacher by profession - is always a challenge.  Working with teens is rewarding and I do not regret my 29 years of teaching at all.  However, it is exhausting physically and emotionally.  I need my creative time to help me refocus my attention on what is also important to me - art, crafts, sewing and writing.

I hope that 2014 will be my year to continue on my life's journey one step higher up on the spiral of possibility.  I have begun my quest to live a creative life and there is no time like the present to re-energize my motivation.  Thank you for stopping by. I hope to share my journey more frequently than I have.

May 2014 bring great joy, love and hope to your dreams, your family and all that you hold dear.