Recent Posts

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Snaps

I'm trying to be more active with my iPhone camera, so here are some recent favorites I took. Some are very obviously doctored with instagram filters...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Candied Orange Peels will Surely Remove your Name from the Naughty List.


This was originally posted in March, 2011, but I decided to re-post since it's only 1 WEEK (!!!) until Christmas.  I'm currently in Elf-mode and am making these to go into the cookie/candy tins I put together for friends, family, and special coworkers.

The combination of orange and chocolate is one of my favorites.  Every Christmas, my mom used to put one of those foil-wrapped chocolate oranges in the bottom of our stockings, and I remember that I always tried to make it last, but inevitably ended up consuming it before New Year's Eve.  Maybe it was my favorite because I got to whack the crap out of it before consuming, but I'm almost positive that the reason I went for it first was because of that amazing combination of flavors.  James has come to realize that a package of Orange Milano cookies placates the infamous "funks" that occasionally consume me, so whenever he starts to see the initial warning signs (moodiness, apathy, general unpleasantness), he knows to pick up a package at the store. 

I'm the type of person that obsessively researches something once I get it into my head that I'm going to try it.   So, when, during a recent visit to a local restaurant, a few friends and I ordered a dessert which consisted of shaved chocolate, whipped cream, and candied orange peel, I was immediately infatuated, and had a nagging urge to make candied orange peel.   I found various different recipes (and consulted with James's fancy Professional Pastry Chef book, which intimidates the bejesus out of me because it's all professional and measures things by weight instead of volume), and finally came up with a "recipe" that I felt comfortable trying.


Candied Orange Peel dipped in Dark Chocolate

(I referred frequently to David Lebovitz's recipe for candied ginger, but basically came up with this one on my own, through trial and error)

Ingredients:

4 oranges, unsprayed or thoroughly washed
2 c water
1 c granulated sugar, plus more for coating
Dark chocolate chips (or bars, coarsely chopped)

1. Using a vegetable peeler (I prefer using the Swiss kind because it scrapes a minimal amount of skin from my knuckles), remove the peel of the oranges in strips (unsprayed/organic oranges are preferred because of the pesticides used on conventionally grown fruit, but if you can't find any, or just don't want to pay the exorbitant prices for organic fruit, then just wash them thoroughly with vinegar and water).

2. Using a butter knife, remove any of the white pith that remains on the peels.  The pith is very bitter and will make your candy taste the same if it isn't removed.  (Pictured below, the peel on the left has been scraped and the peel on the right still has some pith attached.)


3. Add the scraped peels to a pot of cold water and bring to a boil.  Boil the peels for 5 minutes, drain, rinse in cold water, then repeat two more times with fresh, cold water.  Using a non-reactive pan is best when dealing with citrus, because the acid in the citrus fruits (especially lemons) reacts with aluminum to produce a metallic taste in whatever you're making.  I found this out the hard way when making lemon curd for the first time.

4. Bring 2 c water and 1 c sugar to a boil.  Add the blanched orange peels to the boiling sugar solution and simmer on low approximately 30-45 minutes, until the peels are translucent.  You're going to want to keep an eye on these, because the sugar-water will reduce to a syrup and will eventually cook until burned (I've also had the unfortunate experience of dealing with this when I neglected a poached pear syrup). 


5. Remove the peels from the syrup when the bubbles start to become bigger.  Turn off the heat and remove each peel, one-by-one, with a pair of tongs and coat in granulated sugar.  The peels will be covered in molten sugar syrup, so don't try to eat them or get any on your fingers, as molten sugar is like napalm (rinse immediately with cold water if you do get it on you). Shake off excess sugar, and try to avoid lumps of sugar sticking to the peels by brushing them off as they form.  Transfer the sugar-coated peels to a baking sheet covered with parchment or wax paper to dry for approximately 1 hour (or overnight if you're not coating in chocolate).  The syrup can be reserved for use in other recipes, and I'm sure it would make a lovely iced tea sweetener.  If you decide to dispose of it, as I did, do NOT dump it down your kitchen sink, unless, of course, you'd like to spend some quality time with your plumber in the near future. 


6. Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Add the chocolate chips to a heat-proof bowl and place over the boiling water to melt the chips.  Stir occasionally to help the chocolate melt faster.

note that if you're planning to use a stainless steel bowl like I did, use an oven mitt, because the bowl will become HOT ­­­– no joke

7. When the chocolate is melted, turn off the heat and begin to dip the sugar-coated orange peels in the chocolate.  Return each dipped piece to the parchment/wax paper and when all the pieces are dipped, transfer to the refrigerator to set for about 20 minutes. 



Candied orange peels will last up to a week when dipped in chocolate and should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature.  Without the chocolate, they will last a few months in an airtight container.

These are sure to please and impress.  The resulting peels are very sweet and have a texture reminiscent of chewy gummy-candy, with a rich complement of dark chocolate.  While not exactly a cinch to whip up in the kitchen, they're definitely a recipe that can be successfully completed by most, with a little love and patience, and would make a great gift. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Oopsies.


I guess someone (lots of someones) forgot to secure their precious sailboats before hurricane Irene graced us with her destructive presence.



We lost power for about 12 hours, but remained generally unscathed, besides the trauma induced by a lack of internet access, no television, and an overall feeling of being shit on, since we were the ONLY NEIGHBORHOOD IN WALTHAM TO LOSE ELECTRICITY.  For realz; we drove around and checked. 

To flip to my new-found optimistic side, it was actually peaceful to have all the windows open and to hear crickets instead of road-rage-fueled traffic incidents and to see stars instead of streetlights.  I felt like I was in some parallel, pastoral universe.  Or at my parents' house.  Plus, Irene brought some greatly appreciated cooler weather and unbelievably blue skies. 


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mine.

Ann Taylor announced their new arrivals today, and the minute I saw these, all the breath escaped from my lungs in less than one second:


I will admit, I'm somewhat materialistic, even though I would care to believe otherwise.  There are many, many inanimate objects that make me gasp out loud, or do a little dance in my chair, but these, by far, take the cake.  I get grabby hands over these shoes, and want to doodle hearts around their picture in my math notebook. 

As many (probably all) of you know, I am completely obsessed with stripes.  I could probably wear striped shirts for at least a month, I have so many of them, and black and white stripes are my ultimate weakness.  Needless to say, these will be entering my closet in the near future, because even though I'm trying *so* hard to be more responsible with my spending (and have been doing a decent job of it thus far), I've been looking for a pair of shoes like these for two years now.  For Realz.  So, I won't feel the least bit guilty, even if I pay full price for them (which I won't). 

That is all. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Happy Friday!


 I took this photograph last week, when I was in a really bad mood and bought myself flowers to help me push the "cloud" away.  I sometimes think I may have Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder, because I can become really sad when spring approaches, for no apparent reason.  Flowers typically help, and this bright bouquet I put together with flowers from Whole Foods instantly lifted my spirits.  I may never be able to predict when my serotonin levels will drop, but at least I know there are a few things that will help bring me out of the slump. 

 Hope everyone has a happy weekend, as I'm sure I will, because my husband has Saturday night off and we will be spending it together! 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Candied Orange Peel Experiment.


The combination of orange and chocolate is one of my favorites.  Every Christmas, my mom used to put one of those foil-wrapped chocolate oranges in the bottom of our stockings, and I remember that I always tried to make it last, but inevitably ended up consuming it before New Year's Eve.  Maybe it was my favorite because I got to whack the crap out of it before consuming, but I'm almost positive that the reason I went for it first was because of that amazing combination of flavors.  James has come to realize that a package of Orange Milano cookies placates the infamous "funks" that occasionally consume me, so whenever he starts to see the initial warning signs (moodiness, apathy, general unpleasantness), he knows to pick up a package at the store. 

I'm the type of person that obsessively researches something once I get it into my head that I'm going to try it.   So, when, during a recent visit to a local restaurant, a few friends and I ordered a dessert which consisted of shaved chocolate, whipped cream, and candied orange peel, I was immediately infatuated, and had a nagging urge to make candied orange peel.   I found various different recipes (and consulted with James's fancy Professional Pastry Chef book, which intimidates the bejesus out of me because it's all professional and measures things by weight instead of volume), and finally came up with a "recipe" that I felt comfortable trying.


Candied Orange Peel dipped in Dark Chocolate

(I referred frequently to David Lebovitz's recipe for candied ginger, but basically came up with this one on my own, through trial and error)

Ingredients:

4 oranges, unsprayed or thoroughly washed
2 c water
1 c granulated sugar, plus more for coating
Dark chocolate chips (or bars, coarsely chopped)

1. Using a vegetable peeler (I prefer using the Swiss kind because it scrapes a minimal amount of skin from my knuckles), remove the peel of the oranges in strips (unsprayed/organic oranges are preferred because of the pesticides used on conventionally grown fruit, but if you can't find any, or just don't want to pay the exorbitant prices for organic fruit, then just wash them thoroughly with vinegar and water).

2. Using a butter knife, remove any of the white pith that remains on the peels.  The pith is very bitter and will make your candy taste the same if it isn't removed.  (Pictured below, the peel on the left has been scraped and the peel on the right still has some pith attached.)


3. Add the scraped peels to a pot of cold water and bring to a boil.  Boil the peels for 5 minutes, drain, rinse in cold water, then repeat two more times with fresh, cold water.  Using a non-reactive pan is best when dealing with citrus, because the acid in the citrus fruits (especially lemons) reacts with aluminum to produce a metallic taste in whatever you're making.  I found this out the hard way when making lemon curd for the first time.

4. Bring 2 c water and 1 c sugar to a boil.  Add the blanched orange peels to the boiling sugar solution and simmer on low approximately 30-45 minutes, until the peels are translucent.  You're going to want to keep an eye on these, because the sugar-water will reduce to a syrup and will eventually cook until burned (I've also had the unfortunate experience of dealing with this when I neglected a poached pear syrup). 


5. Remove the peels from the syrup when the bubbles start to become bigger.  Turn off the heat and remove each peel, one-by-one, with a pair of tongs and coat in granulated sugar.  The peels will be covered in molten sugar syrup, so don't try to eat them or get any on your fingers, as molten sugar is like napalm (rinse immediately with cold water if you do get it on you). Shake off excess sugar, and try to avoid lumps of sugar sticking to the peels by brushing them off as they form.  Transfer the sugar-coated peels to a baking sheet covered with parchment or wax paper to dry for approximately 1 hour (or overnight if you're not coating in chocolate).  The syrup can be reserved for use in other recipes, and I'm sure it would make a lovely iced tea sweetener.  If you decide to dispose of it, as I did, do NOT dump it down your kitchen sink, unless, of course, you'd like to spend some quality time with your plumber in the near future. 


6. Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Add the chocolate chips to a heat-proof bowl and place over the boiling water to melt the chips.  Stir occasionally to help the chocolate melt faster. 

note that if you're planning to use a stainless steel bowl like I did, use an oven mitt, because the bowl will become HOT ­­­– no joke

7. When the chocolate is melted, turn off the heat and begin to dip the sugar-coated orange peels in the chocolate.  Return each dipped piece to the parchment/wax paper and when all the pieces are dipped, transfer to the refrigerator to set for about 20 minutes. 



Candied orange peels will last up to a week when dipped in chocolate and should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature.  Without the chocolate, they will last a few months in an airtight container.

These are sure to please and impress.  The resulting peels are very sweet and have a texture reminiscent of chewy gummy-candy, with a rich complement of dark chocolate.  While not exactly a cinch to whip up in the kitchen, they're definitely a recipe that can be successfully completed by most, with a little love and patience, and would make a great gift.  

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Big Wave.

I remember reading the story The Big Wave, by Pearl S. Buck, when I was in the fourth grade.  Upon hearing the news of the earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan this past Friday, my thoughts, after immediately worrying about my coworkers and the people of Japan, went to the book. 

Essentially, the book is about two boys who are friends, one a mountainside farmer, the other a fisherman.  A tsunami hits the fishing village and wipes away one boy's family, who is then adopted by the farming family and tries to assume a new life with his adopted family.  In the end, when the fishing boy comes of age, he decides to return to the life of a fisherman, against the warning of his mountain-dwelling friend, and poignantly verbalizes the moral of the story: that it is only in the face of danger that one finds bravery and the appreciation of how wonderful life is. 

When I begin to think about people who live in "disaster prone areas," like the Pacific Ring of Fire, or next to volcanoes (et al.), I can't help but think that I wouldn't  be able to handle living in constant fear of something bad happening.  I would worry incessantly (more than I already do, if you can believe it).  I feel like I have a very good grasp on the concept of mortality and the fleeting nature of life, but I can't say that I would ever be able to stand in the face of danger, like these people do on a daily basis, and be ok

Regardless, my heart is so, very heavy with all the terrible news coming from Japan, and while my words can offer little solace in their current situation, I can say, undoubtedly, that they are much braver than I will ever be. 


::::::::::::::::::: The Citizen Effect :::::::::::::::::::
::::::::  Other Earthquake Relief Options  ::::::::
:::::::::  Lady Gaga Japan Relief Bracelet  :::::::::




I have been in the process of compiling a post about candied orange peel, but just can't bear to finish writing about something so frivolous at the moment.  It will come in time, however.

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