Hey, internet! I’m back. Didja miss me? I missed you!
All kinds of life things plus mega-tiredness and being away from home for a week have kept me from updating my box here. But now I’m home again and with delicious news – Duck and I will soon be nesting together! I am as yet unsure how sharing will affect my box, but hopefully two appetites will help keep the backlog down. Duck is vegan (although he will occasionally eat eggs from well-cared-for chickens like Eatwell’s) and though I mostly don’t cook with dairy, my big-production items often do contain cheese and the like, so there may be changes in that realm as well.
One of the lovelier parts of my busy week was Mother’s Day. My mom and I had a great afternoon of noshing and poking around stores and generally hanging out. I brought her a huge sculptural bouquet of gladiolas, cala lilies, pussy willow, and eucalyptus, and prepared a special Mother’s Day treat from my box.
When I was little my mom and I used to walk downtown together and sometimes stop at our local sweet shop. I would get frozen yogurt and ogle the candy cigarettes, and my mom would always get chocolate-dipped orange peels. So recently, inspired in part by her affinity and in part by my desire to use every bit of what comes in my box, I’ve been experimenting with making my own varieties of citrus peel candy.
At Chanukah-time I made chocolate-dipped candied satsuma peels, which I ended up preparing too close to the time I needed to give them away (no time for a photo shoot!) so they were enjoyed thoroughly but passed undocumented. The only problem was that the thin satsuma peels were very floppy and fragile and even a bit mushy – they tasted great but lacked the sturdy texture of those chocolate-dipped orange peels from my childhood.
When the beautiful pomelo arrived back in April, I knew immediately that I wanted to candy the peel. I had never eaten it, but had been hearing for a while now about how great pomelo rind is for candying. I saved the peel but life took me in other directions until finally last weekend I dragged the box of peel of from the recesses of the fridge. I swear I have a magic fridge with magic powers of food-freshness preservation (I keep it really cold, which probably helps). My pomelo rind was still fresh and pithy and ready to go.
I had removed the peel following a New York Magazine recipe, keeping as much of the pith on as possible. (Although I really went back and forth on this one: the instructions read: “Peel pomelo, taking care to remove as much of the pith as possible.” Do they mean remove the pith from the fruit, keeping it on the peel? Or remove the pith from the peel? VAGUE! I went with keeping the pith on the peel, and, tasting the finished product, I do not regret it.)
I did the requisite thrice-boiled blanching to get the bitterness out. I then simmered all my little strips in a pot with sugar and water, but then when it was time to put them on a rack to dry, it was also time for me to leave the house to go to a potluck and do a little weekend visiting over in the East Bay. My kitchen receives an occasional rodent visitor (and not the sanctioned kind!) so it would be insane to leave a big tray of sugared fruit just sitting out over the weekend. So I put them on some parchment on a cookie sheet, covered them with a clean dishtowel, and settled my sugared strips in the passenger seat of my car.
These pomelo pieces ended up traveling all over with me. They spent a few days at my mom’s house on her kitchen table, covered by the towel so as not to ruin the surprise. They went up and down the steep Berkeley hills as I drove with one hand on the wheel and the other clutching the tray to keep it from sliding off the seat. They ended up back at my house in an airtight container, waiting, waiting until their moment arrived.
Finally, Mother’s Day morning arrived, and it was pomelo-peel game time. After all their adventures, the rinds had dried to a wonderful consistency – firm and substantial, but still yielding and, not gooey, but… I don’t even know the word to describe it but if you’ve ever had great candied fruit you know what I’m talking about. Half of them I rolled in castor sugar, which is superfine sugar and which I think is perfection for coating candied peel. (You can make your own castor sugar by putting sugar in the food processor, but I just went out and bought a bag because I never seem to get around to making it and I’m always low on sugar anyways.) The other half I dipped in bittersweet chocolate melted over a double boiler and laid on some foil (having somehow gone through all my wax paper and all my parchment!) to harden.
I brought them up to my mom along with the sculptural flowers and she went crazy for them! They are like mom-catnip! It’s awesome! I think she loves them even more than orange peels, because I don’t remember her being this wild about them back in the day. And I have to agree, they are fantastic. They are like everything that is great about candied peel, to the most magnified degree. The large amount of pith means more of that indescribable (jelly-like? I keep eating them as I write this to try to come up with a word) texture. They are tarter than orange peels, which is a great foil for the castor sugar or chocolate. And they look, in my opinion, gorgeous – they have beautiful color and their length and stiffness make them wonderful for dipping in the chocolate.
So I returned home today from my long sojourn, ready to write about my latest box-related adventure in candyland. As I sat down to write I thought suddenly, “I should check what the topic is this month for Sugar High Fridays.” Sugar High Fridays is an especially yummy blog event created by Jennifer at Domestic Goddess, where every month (for a long time now) food bloggers post about a decadent dessert that fits the theme of the month. I love reading the SHF round-ups, but I have never participated. I rarely post about desserts here, because my posts are mainly about what I make with my box, and my desserts are usually interested more in incorporating mountains of chocolate than bunches of radishes. But as luck would have it, I popped over to this month’s SHF topic at Tartelette and the theme is (yes! yes! yes!) citrus!
So it may have been a long week, and a tiring one, but I wouldn’t trade it in for any other week. We have ducks building a nest, the invention of mom-catnip, and a blog event entry to cap it all off and mark my return to the wider world. Sweet!