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I love citrus. While most cookbooks and online recipe forums seem to think that citrus is best enjoyed in the dog days of summer, I love that it’s true season is actually the mid- winter months. Like a doting grandmother who slips you a bright little foil wrapped piece of candy in that long half hour before dinner, citrus waits till the dark days of winter to ripen.
While it’s true that citrus isn’t necessarily local, unless you happen to live in Florida, California, or parts of Texas, it is a seasonal fruit, just like anything else. So, while most of us can’t buy citrus from one of our farmer friends, it is still possible to buy it at the peak of its season when it’s freshest, imported the least number of miles, and most importantly– tastiest. For me, that means taking advantage of the natural down time that winter gives us and chowing down on all the grapefruits, tangerines, oranges, clementines, lemons, limes, pomelos, and tangelos I can eat. Peggy Bourjaily wrote an excellent piece for NPR’s Kitchen Window series about this practical locavorism.
Citrus in winter is also a nostalgic thing for me. Truth be told, I would probably eat it in the winter even if it wasn’t in season then. (Conveniently enough though, I get to keep my moral high ground.) As kids, we would always get an orange in the toe of our stocking at Christmas. I don’t know how often we actually ate the orange, but it was of utmost importance that it was there. Since starting our own Christmas traditions, Mr. Quotidian and I have dispensed with the usual stockings filled with odds and ends that end up getting lost or broken in a few weeks. Instead, we leave a pad of paper and pencil by the stockings and write down memories of the other person, then put the memory in the other’s stocking. So, by Christmas morning, we have stockings stuffed with memories. I love the tradition, but obviously an orange would feel rather out of place in such a situation. However, a Christmas without citrus seemed hollow and dull. I realized the easiest way to solve the situation was to serve citrus at one of our Christmas meals. Since citrus doesn’t do well with a cheese fondue, Christmas Eve was out. However, when I remembered a recipe for a salad using oranges and cranberries, Christmas brunch seemed the ideal way to include this jolly, festive fruit. New Year’s brunch would be delicious too…paired with a mimosa perhaps? Continue Reading…
Posted 2 years, 4 months ago at 6:52 pm. 1 comment
No other time of year seems to hold as many traditions for me as Christmas. The ornaments get hauled up from the basement, the dust blown off the old pear boxes they’re stored in. Each is carefully unswaddled from its nest of ten year old paper towel and hung on the tree. Little Bethlehems are constructed throughout the house, forming a kind of Yuletide suburban sprawl. Each of the mangers stay empty until Christmas morning. The soundtrack changes frequently as each of us takes our turn choosing our favorite music. Little Brother with Mannheim Steamroller, me with Bing Crosby and Ella Fitzgereld, Mom with hymns.
And then there are the nine different tins of Christmas cookies piled on the counter. Their colors a hodgepodge of cheery greens, wintery blues, rich reds, and ornate golds. Inside each tin is a different cookie– mixing of different cookies into the same tin is strictly forbidden. The cookies range from simple peanut clusters that take just minutes to make to Springerale cookies that get printed with a special rolling pin, cut apart, then left out to dry overnight. Chocolate pinwheels look fancy but are easy to make. Of course sugar cookies make their appearance, the amount of frosting and sprinkles adorning Rudolph’s antlers directly correlating to the age of the person who decorated them.
Somewhere in that pile of tins lies the gingerbread men. These always arrived with grandma’s return address on the box. There was exactly one gingerbread cookie per person. But we never thought we were getting jipped. These weren’t just any gingerbread cookies. As a child, they were as big as my face. I know this because I did it . . . holding the cookie up to my face and inhaling the sweet spicy scent. And they were intricately decorated with all different colors of frosting. The gingerbread men had textured vests and pants. The gingerbread girls had striped skirts and braids that looked almost real. They were the kind of cookies that the children in “The Night Before Christmas” dreamed about. Because they were so big, these cookies were eaten piecemeal . . . an arm or a leg at a time. Each of of us had a different method of decimating our cookie. I worked in a clockwise pattern starting with the head. Continue Reading…