Last winter I kept the house stocked on oranges from Fiddleheads, mainly with the intent of staving off colds (the plan worked marvelously, by the way); halfway to pitching some of the rind into the compost bucket one day it occurred to me, "Oh, wait a minute - I can dry this stuff and use in it recipes, can't I?"
Why did it take so long for that to occur to me (apart from a distressing lack of mental acuity on my part)? Aside from the classic "We didn't do that when I was growing up" excuse, which comes in amazingly handy on all sorts of occasions (trust me), I think it may well have a lot to do with the fact that I was conditioned by decades of eating non-organic oranges, which we all knew had been sprayed to keep them pretty and long-lasting in storage, but you certainly didn't want to take the risk of drying them and consuming whatever toxins were sprayed on them. (That those toxins might also be inside the rinds, which are porous after all, somehow did not occur to me and, I suspect, to a lot of other people, until much later.)
Happily, we have baskets of organic citrus fruit on display and overflowing all season long at the co-op: mandarins (first satsumas, then murcotts); navel, hamlin and red cara cara oranges; blood oranges, tangelos, tangerines, and so on. The rinds can be dried very easily and saved for culinary purposes throughout the year: use them to flavor homebrewed beer or root beer; use them in place of or in addition to freshly grated zest when most citrus is out of season; toss a few handfuls into homemade granola. You can even drop some into an airtight tin of loose dry black or green tea that needs a bit of oomph, along with vanilla bean, anise, cardamon, or any spices of choosing. (The technique would be the same, of course, for any citrus fruit: lemon, lime, grapefruit, etc.)
Select the freshest fruit you can find, choosing varieties that have relatively thick rinds, for ease of handling. Tangerines, or other oranges with very thin skins are, ironically, more difficult to work. Also avoid any peel that has begun to dry even slightly sitting on your kitchen table; as the skin shrivels, the pith seems to become attached as tightly as an adult child who cannot bear to move away from Mama. There's just no getting between those two, so best save yourself the heartache.
Tear the rind off in chunks or strips, either from stem to navel or around the circumference, and peel off any loose layers of the bitter white pith. I personally find strips easier to work with, probably because the edges provide my hand and eye with a "guide" of sorts. (If you are the person who can write beautifully straight sentences on unlined sheets of paper, that probably won't be a concern for you.)
Lay the strips skin-side down on your flat surface and carefully pare or shave as much of the remaining pith as possible from the zest with a small, sharp paring knife with a straight (not serrated edge.) Hold the knife as parallel to the surface of your board/table as possible, and with a slight sawing motion move across the surface.
Once you've removed as much of the pith as possible, tear the strips into pieces, lay on a plate or tray and allow to air-dry. (I put mine on a dinner plate and stick them on a slightly-shaded corner of the kitchen table near the wall, where they won't be disturbed.) When the pieces snap and break crisply, rather than bend, they are done. Put them in a good zip bag and gently squeeze out any excess air before zipping shut, or put in an airtight tin or similar container. In either case, it's best to keep out of direct sunlight.
I find 12-48 hours is sufficient time to dry, and sometimes less depending on the heat of the house, the humidity and so on. Very small pieces may be ready overnight. The smaller the pieces the faster they will dry, of course. If stored properly they will last pretty much indefinitely; the bagful I made last winter got me through nearly an entire year.
As a comparison, the photograph above is of a sample I bought from one of my favorite organic herb and spice companies; generally I am very happy with their products, but you see how different their dried zest looks to my own. In fact, there's a lot of little chunks of what look to be pieces of pith. It works well enough in a pinch, but hasn't the same intense flavor the homemade does (predictably); and the homemade looks very pretty sprinkled into that aforementioned granola before or after popping the baking tray into the oven.
If you eventually get comfortable, or cocksure*, enough with the technique, you can pare the rind from the fruit from the outside, while the skin is still intact, and then pare away any bits of remaining pith on the underside. I have actually done this when I want fresh zest, as none of my erstwhile graters seems to do the job properly on the peel but can shred my fingertips with astonishing precision. I love "blood oranges" but that's taking the idea a bit too literally for my taste.
*No, that's no my favorite word, either, but let's be honest: "ovumsure" just doesn't have quite the same ring, does it?
Oil on board, 8"x 8"
Co-op member Judy Holder picked up this portabello mushroom from our produce cooler last week and knew immediately she had to bring it home, not to eat it but to paint it! She'd never seen a 'bello from the co-op come with it's own babies, and neither had we. A graduate of Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts whose work is found in international collections, Judy was kind enough to allow me to share her painting here. (The 'shroom came from FH, after all, so it seems only fair.)
Visit her blog Always Artful to see this and more of her original paintings, prints and drawings.
(This recipe previously appeared on my personal food blog Catch A Falling Anise Star. It's still dedicated to Kristina, Fiddleheads member/volunteer - and Piper's mama - who kick-started me back into posting recipes on the co-op FB page a year ago.)
Years ago my then-ladylove introduced me to tofu (and tempeh - but that's another story); and for a few years we were very nearly vegetarian...until the day I decided I had had it with the both of them. To be honest, I can't even recall why it happened. Fast forward to the present, and both protein sources have taken up a place in my cooking and my refrigerator once again. Once more, I can't even recall why. It just happened. I think of it as "trying to make friends" with them, and the relationship seems to be growing apace - encouragingly if not always fabulously. It helps that I don't try to make vegetable proteins become "fake meat"; rather, I try to approach tofu and tempeh for what they are, for their own unique qualities. (Apparently I am doing something right; I barely managed to photograph the portion above before my dinner companions gobbled it up.)
While the recipe below is done in a skillet, I have used this sauce successfully both atop the grill and under the broiler, with meat and poultry as well as tofu, or over portabello mushrooms. FYI, the term "bbq-style" refers to the sauce, a somewhat richer version of the bottled bbq sauces we used when I was growing up in Michigan. I am not trying to imitate North Carolina bbq (pulled pork) or any other regional specialty. (Pulled tempeh, anyone?)
3/4 lb organic tofu
minced yellow onion (optional)
olive oil or other light vegetable oil for pan
For the BBQ Sauce (about 1 cup):
1/3 cup organic ketchup
3-4 tablespoons organic dark or blackstrap molasses
1 large (3 small) garlic cloves, crushed/minced
1-2 tablespoons minced onion
2 tablespoons olive olive
2 teaspoons (or to taste) prepared stone-ground mustard
1 “krimson spice” or other small fresh hot pepper, about 1", seeded and chopped
(or substitute cayenne or pepper flakes to taste)
1/4-1/2 cup water
Cube tofu, then brown on all sides in cast iron skillet or other heavy pan on medium-high heat. Add the minced onion if desired. Make sure the pan is hot (not smoking) before adding tofu, so skin is "seared"; if too cold, the skin sticks to the surface of the pan.
Prepare sauce by combining all ingredients, adding water last to bring the total to 1 full cup; emulsify after each addition until sauce is opaque and thoroughly blended. Adjust seasonings to taste.
When tofu is golden brown on all sides (and onion translucent), pour 1/2 cup of the sauce over the tofu. Store remainder in the refrigerator for use another time. Turn heat down slightly to medium (or just below); toss with spatula to coat thoroughly. Turn as necessary. When most of sauce has been absorbed and thickened (tofu may be somewhat blackened at the edges), turn down very low and cover for a few minutes to let tofu continue absorbing flavors, or serve immediately.
Serves two very hungry women (with veggies and sides) two servings each.
Note: The sauce can be made while browning the tofu or made beforehand and stored in the refrigerator. If made ahead of time, bring it to room temperature before using and stir to recombine if ingredients have separated.
This is a marinade is actually a combination of two recipes: the Tumeric Sauce I used for a cooking demo, and the marinade recipe for Korean marinated beef (bulgogi) found at My Korean Kitchen. I marinated Four Mile River Farm top round at Fiddleheads, cooked as bulgogi (thin strips marinated and seared on a hot pan); my friend Mona poured it over beef brisket before putting into the oven.
It’s very good as a sauce in stir-fry recipes with vegetables, mushrooms, and/or tempeh, tofu, chicken or pork; similar to the tumeric sauce with veggies I posted previously, add to the wok or pan at the last couple of minutes, after the veggies have started to become tender but not limp. It can also be adapted for use as a salad dressing; try adding a bit more honey or mustard to thicken slightly. Whichever oranges or citrus fruit you use, be sure to pick a sweet/tart and intensely flavored variety, such as a dark blood orange, or minneola tangerine.
Many thanks to Mona Harmon-Bowman for kindly transcribing the the recipe.
Juice from 2 medium or 1 large intensely-flavored orange, about 1 cup
3-4 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
4-5 tsps tamari
Dash white pepper, or to taste
1 Tbsp honey
1-2 Tbsp maple syrup (or increase honey by same amount)
2 Tbsp sugar, preferably rapadura or raw sugar
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground tumeric
1/2 - 1” grated ginger root
1/2 pear, shredded, or about 4 Tbsp
2 small or 1 large garlic cloves, minced
1 small shallot or white onion; or two scallions, finely chopped
Dash finely-ground sea salt and white pepper, or to taste
2 Tbsp - 1/4 cup sesame oil (see note)
Combine all ingredients above except sesame oil and whisk thoroughly (or shake in a covered jar) to emulsify; adjust seasonings as desired.
Note: If using for bulgogi (Korean marinated beef), add the sesame oil and whisk into other ingredients just before ready to cook the meat; then pour over thin strips of a lean beef, such as top round to marinate for about an hour or less. Sear very quickly on both sides in a hot pan, (around 300-350 degrees on an electric frypan or grill), just until no pink is showing on surface. Interior should still be rare or medium-rare.
When last we left our heroes, Janice and Mark were going to appear on Ronna Stuller's "Thinking Green" cable access show (Metrocast 25) to talk about Fiddleheads and the 4th Birthday Party...
And so we did, and it was a good deal of fun. The conversation portion particularly was easy; Ronna is a congenial host, Mark Roberts was as terrific as a conversationalist as I'd imagined he'd be, and the 20 minutes flew by in no time. We had one phone call during the show, and the caller wondered if there were things at the co-op for diabetics. I was stumped by that but fortunately Mark wasn't; unbeknownst to myself or Ronna, Mark is diabetic and was able to address the caller's question. Perfect synchronicity, or maybe just luck, but I'll take it either way.
For anyone thinking about making an appearance on Ronna's show (but still afraid to do so), talking at the table with her is just like talking at a cafe with a friend. Except with microphones. And a camera. Just don't think about either one. As it happens, Ronna's hubby Bob is operating the camera, so you really are surrounded by your friends and neighbors.
The "cooking demo" portion, on the other hand...? Well, the other folks thought it went well; everyone certainly enjoyed trying the three mushroom and veggie medley with onion, yellow pepper and zucchini spears, laid over a bed of tri-color quinoa; and then morsels of Four Mile River Farm beef sirloin. Every single ingredient, even the squirt of ketchup in the tumeric sauce, came from Fiddleheads. Chris, the show's producer (who likes his meat "as close to raw as possible" - as do I) told me that he could smell the food coming through the wall inside the control booth, and loved the sound of the sizzle for the show. It may not have been state of the art FX, but it was quick and cheap, and everyone left with a smile on their face.
For my part, I didn't burn, cut or injure myself, or anyone else for that matter - no spurting arteries a la Dan Akroyd - so I'm placing it in the "Win" column. I would have liked the ingredients in bowls on the table, tupperware perhaps with cunning little lids, rather than produce bags. Alas I didn't have any such bowls at home to speak of, so I had to make due. But that's part of the rustic, retro charm of live cable access television. Right? Right? (The electric cooker, btw, came from the Four Mile River Farm booth, and everything else came from home, including the large knife that looks like it's been around since the days of Jim Bowie. Or maybe David.)
I promised last night that I'd put up the recipe for the tumeric sauce that I poured over the vegetable medley, so here it is, actually written down with proper measurements and whatnot. You can use this for all sorts of things: as a marinade, as a salad dressing, or as a sauce for a main dish as I did last night. It would probably go as well over pork, chicken or fish as it did on the vegetables.
(as seen on "Thinking Green")
1/4 cup organic EV olive oil
3 small satsuma mandarins, or 1 regular-sized tangerine, orange, etc.
2 T gluten-free reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 T ground tumeric
1 T cumin
1 tea coriander
1 garlic clove, crushed and finely minced
1 T unfiltered organic apple cider vinegar
1- 2 T maple syrup, or to taste
pinch of cumin seed (optional)
few pinches of finely ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
pinch of cayenne
squirt of organic ketchup
Blend all ingredients in a small bowl or measuring cup; adjust seasonings as to taste; emulsify with a whisk. Can be used immediately or, stored in the fridge in a jar with a tight lid; shake jar vigorously to blend ingredients again. Makes about 3/4 cup.
*Edited on 3/19/12 to add link to YouTube video. -Janice*
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Text and photos copyright 2011-2013 Janice Janostak unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.