Monday, December 14, 2009

remembering Grandma

Having been raised by my grandparents I definitely heard my share of stories from their childhood going through the great depression and how difficult it was for them. I believe it went something like this… “When I was your age I had to walk twenty-five miles to school every morning uphill both ways through year 'round blizzards carrying my younger siblings on my back to a one-room schoolhouse where I maintained a straight-A average despite having a full-time after-school job at the local textile mill where I worked for 35 cents an hour just to help keep the family from starving to death, all the while never complaining and being thankful for having a roof over my head and shoes on my feet.” It was tedious to say the least.

Having children of my own now I have been known to go on a similar fatiguing diatribe on being thankful, working hard, etc. watching as their eyes begin to glaze over as I droned on. No doubt when they have children of their own it will probably continue.

My Grandparents have since both passed away, but one thing in particular that comes to mind every Christmas time is my Grandmother sharing with me a wonderful Christmas morning memory of hers. It seems that when she was young, every Christmas she would receive in her stocking (an actual sock of her own that she wore) a doll, a piece of ‘stick candy’ as she called it and an orange. She said that besides the doll, the orange was her favorite. She would smile all the while sharing this with me, with a kind of far off look in her eyes. Remembering the weight of it, the smell of it, waiting for moment when she would sit down and begin to unwrap the soft and fleshy gift and savor each delicious segment.

It is hard to imagine in our day and age to cherish something as common as an orange. We have so many varieties at our fingertips, the abundant Navel orange, the Valencia, one of the sweetest for juicing, the Satsuma the popular Christmas time variety and even the unique blood orange that has streaks of red in the fruit, with juice that is often a dark burgundy color.

As I was remembering Grandma this year, I decided that in her memory I would bring the orange back as a Christmas time gift. But instead of giving the whole fruit, I would use the peel and elevate it to another level. Candied peel. The beautiful crystallized citrus peel is a wonderful addition to a cake recipe, sweet bread such as a Panettone, or even chopped and sprinkled over vanilla ice cream. To make it even more decadent, dip one end in dark chocolate and serve as a simple after dinner treat with coffee.

So maybe this year you can start your own tradition of giving a charmingly old-fashioned holiday delicacy…candied citrus peel.


Candied Citrus Peel
adpated from Martha Stewart Living 2007

8 oranges
6 cups sugar, plus more for rolling

Cut end off fruit, and halve fruit lengthwise. Insert the tip of a small paring knife carefully between fruit and pith about ½ inch deep and cut, following the shape of the fruit and keeping skin in one piece. Turn fruit on other end and repeat.

Using your fingers, gently pull the peel away. Reserve fruit for another use.

Place citrus peel in a 6-quart pot; fill with enough cold water to cover (about 3 quarts). Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat; simmer 20 minutes. Drain. Soak peel in cold water until cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes.

Using a melon baler, scrape the soft white pith from the peel, being careful not to tear or cut into the skin.

Slice each piece of peel lengthwise into thin strips ¼ to ½ wide.

Stir together sugar and 3 cups water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved, about 8 minutes. Add strips and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until strips are translucent and syrup thickens, about 40 minutes. Let strips cool completely in syrup for 3 hours (or overnight). Strips can be refrigerated in syrup in an airtight container up to 3 weeks.

For sugaring peel, remove strips with a slotted spoon. Using your fingers, wipe off excess syrup, and roll strips in sugar. Let dry on wire racks.

Place strips in airtight container for extended storage, or stack in small boxes embellished with yellow and orange ribbons to provide a hint of what’s inside each carefully presented package.

1 comment:

  1. This is such a beautiful candy and a wonderful way to remember your loving and hard working Grandma. Anyone would be lucky to receive this as a gift!