It’s 8:25 in the morning and Gigi is running around the house wearing a to0 small swimsuit, and life jacket, and Little Miss Lulu is wearing too long princess dresses which she brings to me over and over and over again and demands, “cosuuuuume on, cosuuuuume on!” So the costumes go on and then come off, go on again, and off again. Gigi has orchestrated the conversion of our small living room into a beach: sand, water, beach chars, and pretend sunscreen. Something tells me these two are ready for warmer weather. Me too, kids.
While they are passing these grey, freezing, uneventful winter days lounging at the beach and testing boundaries, I have been in the kitchen. Thanks to so many of you who donated, I’ve been able to indulge a bit in the wonderful winter citrus fruits that have been tempting me all season! Last time we were at the store I grabbed a few Meyer lemons and blood oranges with the intent of candying the lemons and using the blood oranges to brighten up a simple salad. Yesterday morning I set out to candy the Meyer lemons; the minute I sliced into them I felt the greyness of January lift away. Meyer lemons have such a wonderful scent: like tangerines, lemons, sugar, and sunshine combined. The lemons turned out so well I figured I should probably candy a couple of blood oranges too.
Candyied citrus fruit tastes like… well, candy! They’re like candy for grown ups. The approach is pretty simple, although I do have a couple important tips. The majority of recipes “out there” did not call for blanching the fruit first. I did a test, blanching half and not the other, and found that the blanched, then candied fruit was much softer, and turned completely translucent, while the unblanched fruit was a lot chewier and never fully turned translucent. You can actually see this difference in the first photo of the cooling Meyer lemons; the lemons on the left weren’t blanched, the ones on the right were. Conclusion: It’s worth the extra step to blanch the slices. The other note is that it’s important to have plenty of simple syrup that the fruit is simmering in; this gives the fruit the ability to float about, and it doesn’t reduce to a thick, dark, caramelized syrup during the hour that the fruit is cooking!
Finally, you might be wondering what to do with candied citrus! Here’s a little list: eat it straight, add it to a cocktail (such as an Old Fashioned) in place of the syrup and lemon of orange garnish, you can also use it to top cakes or a bowl of ice cream or pancakes or yogurt! These are pretty versatile treats. This recipe would work well with all citrus fruit, and you could use the same approach for candying just the peels for cocktails. Now, without further ado, here is the recipe for Candied Meyer Lemon and Candied Blood Orange!
CANDIED MEYER LEMONS & CANDIED BLOOD ORANGES
4 Meyer lemons
2 blood oranges
4 cups granulated sugar
4 cups water
large pot of boiling water
large bowl of ice water
Wash the fruit, then slice 1/4” thick, discarding the ends. Pick out any seeds and discard them.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and prepare a large bowl with ice water. Once the water is boiling, carefully drop in the slices of fruit. Stir gently and boil the slices for one minute. With tongs or a slotted spoon transfer the fruit to the ice bath until cool. Drain the fruit and separate the oranges from the lemons in preparation for candying them.
Divide the water and sugar into two large, non-reactive skillets, and heat on medium-high, stirring well, until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup is simmering.
Add the oranges to one pan and the lemons to the other. Bring the liquid back to a low simmer. Cook the fruit at a low simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring and flipping the fruit occasionally. If the syrup starts to reduce to much add 1/4 cup of water to keep it the proper consistency. Cook until the white part of the rind has turned translucent. Using tongs, gently transfer the slices to a wire rack that has been placed over a baking sheet or roasting pan. Allow to cool completely before using.
Store in an airtight container with parchment paper to separate layers. The fruit will save in the refrigerator for about two weeks.
Save the cooled syrup for cocktails or to use over vanilla ice cream!
CANDIED MEYER LEMONS & CANDIED BLOOD ORANGES
I’m done with my new photography website! There are still a few things to polish up but it’s pretty much complete! I hunkered down and worked on it non-stop for a week. Let me tell you, I pulled a lot of all nighters (and by all nighters, and by all nighters I mean I stayed up until 11pm watching Gilmore Girls and working away). It felt great to do something. For the past few months I’ve been feeling a little lost, and just thinking about everything, and attempting to set goals felt completely overwhelming. Sometimes I forget how powerful and positive action can be. So, I stopped thinking about it, bought a new domain name and just built the site, and I’m so glad I did.
It really reflects my skills and my style of photography. I don’t often talk about my photography work here, and you see mostly photographs of food and my garden and my children. But I also photograph maternity, births, newborns, elopements, weddings, and families. A few of my favorite photos from the past couple of years are below. If you care to take a look at the full site at kaciemcmackin.com!
It is a rainy, grey Sunday morning and I’m at the local coffee shop sipping a Cubano (latte made with a shot that’s been pulled through raw sugar) and working on the desperately needed redesign for my photography website. Well, I guess I’m technically working on this blog post and procrastinating the work that needs to be done on my photography site. It’s been ages since I’ve updated it the site. I kept thinking, “Well, if I’m going to redesign it soon why should I update it now?” Months passed and then more months passed and here I am, finally getting ready to tackle it. Compared to the building of this site and my Gorge in the Gorge site it should be a breeze. Fingers crossed.
This past week really wasn’t much different than the one before, which is how seems to go this time of year. I did finally shake my fever and cold, but I haven’t given up binging on movie watching. The last two books I read were Wild and Gone Girl, so we watched those two movies this week. I really liked both, though there’s something to be said for allowing a little time between finishing a book and watching the story unfold on a screen. I finished reading Wild only hours before we curled up to watch it, so I was acutely aware of every nuanced difference. Gone Girl was such an intense read, and the movie watching experience was too… the casting was perfect!
On that note, my PSA for today is to remind you all that the Golden Globes are on tonight! I love award season. It’s my version of the playoffs and the SuperBowl. Tonight I am going to make Pasta e Fagioli from Ashley’s cookbook, Date Night In. I spent the day yesterday simmering homemade stock for it, Kyle is making sourdough bread, and I’ve been fending Gigi off from eating all of the jamón serrano which, in compliance with Ashley’s recipe, gets crisped up and served alongside the soupy pasta like fancy, frilly bacon. Yesterday G saw a illustration of a chicken that looked disturbingly like a pig. She brought it to me and said, “Did you know that baby pigs are called “chickens” and big, grown up pigs are called “serrano”?!” I only corrected her about the chicken part.
Tonight dessert will be served, as it should be during the Golden Globes, on the couch. I’m making one of my favorite desserts that only takes minutes to pull together. There are few salty, sweet desserts I love more than Kettle Corn. Because Kettle Corn has a savory side, it allows for the addition of earthy, hearty herbs. I love to add fresh thyme, but since our thyme has frozen over, blackened and died for the winter, I’ve moved on to adding fried sage. The thick, perfume heavy leaves thin out and brighten up when they’re fried. They take on the fruity quality of the olive oil in which they’re fried, and they simultaneously crumble and melt when they hit your tongue.
Making Kettle Corn is so easy that you’ll thank and curse me in equal measure for sharing this recipe with you… hopefully more of the former.
KETTLE CORN WITH FRIED SAGE
1/4 cup butter
1 Tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
1/4 granulated sugar
1/2 cup corn kernels
5-7 sage leaves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
A Couple Notes.
Do not use enameled cast iron or Le Creuset for this recipe. The heat diffuses too much and the popcorn kernels will just burn and never actually pop! Use a heavy, stainless steel pot with a tight fitting lid.
Cooking Kettle Corn is all about finding the right temperature and getting it out of the pot and into a bowl the second it’s done popping. You’ll have to practice on your stove. I use our largest gas burner on medium heat.
Be sure to transfer the popcorn out of the pot the second the popping starts to space out or it will start to burn.
In a small sauté pan, heat 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil until shimmering. Gently place in a few sage leaves at a time and allow to fry for 10-15 seconds. You don’t want them to brown. Remove using tongs and set on a paper towel to drain. Repeat with the remaining leaves. Set the leaves aside.
Put your butter, oil, sugar, and corn kernels in a large pot (I use a three quart saucepan with a tight fitting lid) over medium heat stirring constantly until the butter is melted. When the butter has melted completely, cover with a tight fitting lid, and either leave the heat on medium or reduce it; depending on your individual stove.
Keep the pot tightly covered by using a towel and holding the lid in place. It can take 4-7 minutes for the corn to start popping depending on your temperature. Don’t be tempted to lift the lid. That will just let out the steam and it will take longer and then it can burn. Once it starts popping give the pot a good shimmy every 10-15 seconds to make sure that all of the popcorn is getting coated evenly. When the popping slows down, remove your pot from the heat and immediately (and carefully) transfer your kettle corn into a large bowl.
Allow the Kettle Corn to cool for a minute or two. Season with a bit of salt, add the fried sage leaves, toss, and serve immediately.
Below is my video for how to fry sage leaves in case you’d like a visual…
KETTLE CORN WITH FRIED SAGE
Well, Happy New Year! We had a wonderful Christmas up in Seattle, and after Christmas we came home and geared up for G’s fourth birthday which is on New Year’s Eve. We continued our tradition of heading out for a birthday hot chocolate, followed by lunch with Kyle at the brewery, and then she gets to choose her birthday menu. She chose to have “rainbow veggie pasta” (pasta tossed with lots of different colored vegetables, olive oil, and lots of Parmesan cheese, and a made-from-scratch Rainbow Chip Cake from my friend Ashley’s cookbook, Date Night In!
Somehow I managed to come down with a weird low-grade fever that’s persisted throughout the week just enough to make me tired and chilly, so other than enjoying Gigi’s birthday we’ve been laying pretty low. My laying low has been aided by watching lots of wonderful movies. As a member of SAG-AFTRA I get lots of movie screeners to watch this time of year, so we’ve been indulging in many movie nights these past couple of weeks. So far my favorites have been: St. Vincent, The Imitation Game, and The Theory of Everything. Have you all watched any of those? We’re also rounding out our binge watching of House of Cards. ’Tis the season for watching snuggling up and watching movies.
Other than G’s birthday, movie watching, making ramen, fever fighting, and polishing off the last of the Christmas treats we hauled home, I’ve been browsing a new favorite cookbook: Sunday Suppers. I tend to keep a cookbook on my bedside table along with whatever novel I’m currently reading, and Sunday Suppers has been so lovely to read through. There are so many recipes I can’t wait to dive into: Naan with Rosemary and Thyme (pg.62) , Mushroom Toast with Soft Cooked Eggs (pg.105), White Bean, Warm Radicchio, Crisp Bacon and Saba (pg.218). The only problem with reading in bed is that I often get really hungry before I switch out the light, knowing that I can’t get up and make a Fig Tart with Honey (pg. 51) as a quick midnight snack. If you’re looking for a great new cookbook for the New Year you should check this one out.
I hope you all are having a great start to the new year. I’ll be back in a couple days with a recipe for Kettle Corn with Fried Sage!
I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.
Thank you to all of you who left comments on my last post, who sent emails and texts, left notes on Instagram, who called to check in, who dropped off wine, gift cards, and food on our doorstep. We are humbled and truly grateful. It feels so reassuring to have an amazing local community in which we are lucky enough to live, as well as this extended, supportive online community that includes all of you. I said to a friend that I felt bad excepting “charity” since we are so much more fortunate than so many others, and because this is temporary and we can technically get through it alone. She told me, “We know you can do it on your own… but that’s not why you have friends that love you. It’s not charity, it’s just friendship.” So thank you all for your friendship that came across to us in many forms. It is greatly appreciated and deeply felt.
I always try to be transparent in my posts. I certainly have enough recipes that I’ve been working on that I could have just kept them coming and glossed over this whole thing, but I didn’t want to phone in posts and recipes while I was really feeling and experiencing something else. I hope that I can always be transparent even when it’s not particularly easy or flattering. It was obviously something that resonated with so many of you, and I loved hearing your stories, and took your advice, suggestions, and encouragement to heart. A few of you mentioned in comments and via email that I should consider putting a donation button on the site, which I did, in the form of a link on the sidebar.
I don’t have a new recipe for you, but I’m linking of one of my favorites. My girlfriend dropped off all of the ingredients for me to make my Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (there’s also a cooking video), so that’s what we had for dinner last night. It’s a rich and delicious vegetarian soup that falls into the “healthy comfort food” category of my cooking, which happens to be my favorite type of food.
With that, I’m most likely signing off through Christmas to reboot, get some extra snuggling in, and think things through for the new year.
We wish you all very happy holidays.
With love (and endless gratitude),