Saturday, January 22, 2011

Boozy Day

The citrus liqueurs are all now in the infusion stage. It has been a LONG day of peeling citrus.

The lineup: Bergamot (same fruit that scents Earl Grey tea), Wekiva (lavender gem) tangelolo, Sarawak (in the pummelo family, and no it is NOT a Tahitian, don't get me started), Carribbean Shrubb (containing the juice of several Clementines, Femminello Siracusano lemons, and some nice spices), Grand Marnier (Bouquetier de Nice oranges), and Limoncello (the Siracusanos again). With the exception of the Shrubb, they're all in vodka (Shrubb is in rum).

Not your average stash of citrus, I must say.

I still have plenty of citrus left, but the booze is gone and I am done, tired, done done with this. I don't precisely follow anybody's recipe, so we'll see how it all turns out. They sit for at least a couple of weeks, up to six, then I'll add a simple sugar syrup to a few of them. They will all eventually be filtered. Some of them are experimental (i.e., I made it up myself), and some recipes can definitely be found online.

It's been a long indoor day - going out into the garden before the sun sets!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Citrus Madness Begins

The annual trip to Mecca was Saturday. The U.C. Lindcove Experimental Citrus Station, where they allow some California Rare Fruit Growers to pick as much as they like (just don't take any genetic material, as they're protected by law).

I scored 75 lbs of fruit. I weighed them and segregated them. I have plans for them.

First recipe: blood orange marmalade, from the book I gave myself for Christmas, "The Joy of Jams, Jellies and Other Sweet Preserves," by Linda Ziedrich. Six half pints. Here they are, aren't they lovely? Her recipe would NOT have set, I've made enough jam to know that, so I added a little pectin, and time will tell. This recipe took about 7 of the oranges you see toward the top right of the photo, blushed red. There are 5 of those left.

Second recipe: Bergamot Orange Custard Cups, from this website: and they're in the oven right now.

They took one - count it, ONE - large bergamot, and it made a double batch. There are 18 left. Uh huh, 18. I'm hunting for recipes.

The rest of this mountain of citrus hasn't been touched. And yes, they're still on my living room carpet.

But I'll get there. All recommendations are welcome. If push comes to shove, I now have a chest freezer and I know how to use it.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My dog's time

She was a beautiful black Labrador who lived with a family who abused her. She was chained to a tree outside and conceived a litter of 13 puppies when she was less than 2 years old.
She tried her hardest to take care of her babies, and hid them in an old log. The log collapsed, and half of her puppies died.

A wonderful rescue woman came to take her away. The owner didn't want her any more, or her puppies. The rescuers cared for her, gave her good food, spayed her, and gave her a name, "Whitney". Her puppies were beautiful, part black Lab and part golden Retriever, and they found new homes fast.

A woman in California who wanted a companion for her first dog, the doggy love of her life, Oscar, found Whitney online at Hearts United for Animals. The rescue woman said they would get along. She put Whitney on an airplane on a very wintry day in Omaha, Nebraska and flew her to California.

Whitney got a new name, "Sadie". She wrestled for Top Dog position the day she met Oscar. Mom wanted Oscar to win, but Sadie became Top Dog. They worked it out. They groomed each other and made up games. They were best of friends.

This changed mom's relationship with Oscar forever. He was still her boy, but he had an all-day, always-there friend now. He was part of a partnership.

Oscar and Sadie spent their best time in the Santa Cruz Mountains, chasing deer (who were never truly afraid of being caught) and running through the woods. They had favorite paths and dug nests into the sides of redwood fairy circles. They were strong and agile, forest dogs. They slept outside and smelled and listened to the life of those wet woods.

When they were back in town, occasionally they would go on "walkabouts". They would find a gate ajar and force their way out of the back yard and go around the neighborhood. Sometimes they got thrown in the dog pokey. One day Sadie was thrown in the pokey, and Oscar came home alone.

He wouldn't eat. At first his mom thought he was just sad because Sadie had been put into jail, but after three days (and Sadie had returned) mom took him to the vet. Within half an hour the vet told mom that Oscar had cancer. It was his time to go. Oscar was 12 years old.

Sadie was a survivor. She survived the abusive family, and she survived Oscar. She never lacked in courage. She has chased a bear and attacked a Rottweiler nearly twice her weight. She was dominant and smart and very pushy about being fed exactly when she was hungry, and telling you exactly what she wanted, when she wanted it.

So when she stopped eating on Sunday, we knew she was telling us it was her time. She had grown so thin, and her body was done. It was time to let her soul free to run with Oscar again.

Goodbye, Sadie. What a time you have had! You've been a wonderful mother, friend, and partner. I hope to have learned the lessons you were here to teach me.

Sadie died today at the age of 15. I will be waiting for her to bark at me at exactly 5:30 to tell me it's dinnertime.