Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sweet and sticky

One of the great benefits to living in sunny Florida is winter months with endless fresh oranges. We don't have an orange tree, but friends do. In exchange for some sewing projects, we got oranges. When I say we got oranges, I mean I filled up both produce drawers in the fridge at least five times during the winter months. We were able to go and pick them ourselves too, which was something this Indiana native had never done. Mostly I picked and Bee and Lou played on our friend's play set, I was more impressed with the process than they were. Once we had to hop the fence and run from some dogs, but it was worth it for multiple bushels of local organic oranges. Our friends brag that their tree is organic, but have explained to me that really it means that they neglect it by not spraying it and the dog really like to poop by it. These particular oranges are so juicy that it's silly to try to peel and eat them. You end up with such a mess that you decide to just juice the others. So that is what we did. I made fresh squeezed orange juice every morning, the kids did rather like this particular part of the process. I squeezed extra and froze it, I squeezed extra and made smoothies, I squeezed extra and added orange juice to various recipes, ruining a fair amount of meals. My freezer overflowed with gallon bags full of small amounts of frozen orange juice, reminding me of a time not long ago when my freezer overflowed with gallon bags full of small amounts of frozen breast milk. Just when I had the last of the oranges used up, a different friend from church all but begged us (twist my arm hardly) to take a bushel she had picked. She too had more oranges than she knew what to do with and was trying to find loving homes in need of oranges. I agreed to take more oranges, a few grape fruits and a couple star fruits. I quickly discovered I don't like grape fruit or star fruits. My mom came to visit last week (luckily she liked the grapefuits) and I decided to attempt homemade marmalade. She was able to watch the kids while I stewed sticky orange parts for the seeming hour or two this would take. I scoured the net for recipes and settled on the slightly complicated one included in the pectin box. The oranges were peeled with a vegetable peeler. Those peels were then cooked with some juiced oranges. Sugar and pectin were added as well as the orange 'meat' from about 15 more oranges. The recipe called for something like 8 oranges, so I was surprised and confused that I needed 15 to meet the 4 cup quota. Either way I didn't cut the peel in small enough pieces and have to scoop up as much as I could and use kitchen scissors to cut them smaller. I then poured the mix in a few glass jars and a few plastic containers. I would have liked to use all glass jars, but was not prepared ahead of time for this cooking adventure and like most things I do, made it up a I went. The results were good nonetheless. I shared a few containers with friends, and am enjoying the rest myself on toast and biscuits. Apparently, I am the only one in the house who likes orange marmalade. I did use up the last of the fresh oranges and was happy to be rid of them finally. Last night I made stuffed acorn squash. My recipe calls for a fresh peeled orange, I didn't have any.

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