Here we are, Year Seven. On the first anniversary of the blog, I made a sweet cannellini bean tart. I moved on to mulled cider sachets (first trimester morning sickness mediated), then the addictive polenta chips with rosemary and Parmesan. The fourth anniversary’s pandan chiffon cake has made numerous repeats for birthdays. My fifth celebration was marked with wearing a dress I made from edible plants, mostly collard greens and green onions, the idea an offshoot from my first experience in front of a camera to model cupcake sprinkles on my face and flour thrown at me — intentionally. I am in planning stages for my next wearable food adventure, though it is in such a nascent stage, I could turn a completely different direction before fruition. Last year’s blog anniversary wasn’t much of a hurrah. I took a break. I needed time away to refresh from the daily grind and processing bites of existential crises that seemed to nibble more those days. The blog got a facelift. I try to go for long walks in leafy green areas, at least twice a week. We’ve had tail ends of hurricane weather and some wickedly cold weather here, closing schools and limiting work. I love my job and the people I work with, despite the often frustrating hangups of paperwork we do, insurance companies strongholds and the stopgaps needed to move medical care along sometimes. I really just want to be a doctor and forgo the neverending bricks of paper that used to be leafy green forests I’d have time to walk through more often if I wasn’t doing paperwork.
Sometimes the only way I can come down from those situations is to take a deep breath. Take a sweet bite. Sip a smooth drink, with alcohol or without. I thought about celebrating with a quiet drink. It doesn’t feel like a rock-out party kind of celebration, nor does it completely fall flat or feel unnecessary. We made it another year. *clink of glassware* Sometimes that can be the most amazing part of all of this.
I looked in earnest for a non-alcoholic drink with blood orange juice and limited fizz. I do so many drinks with sparkling water, I wanted to try something else. The blood oranges are ubiquitous right now and extra bloody. Then I got distracted by pâte de fruit: I saw a recipe for blood orange pâte de fruit from the lovely blog Now, Forager. Teresa (she’s amazing — photos, food, everything) makes a layered grapefruit and blood orange jelly candy here and I used half of the recipe to make the blood orange part (colors reminiscent of my grapefruit and Campari pâte de fruit). Her photographs are lifelike and jump off the screen. You are there in her kitchen. I was bolstered by my having made some of my intoxicatingly scented passion fruit pâte de fruit a few days ago in prep for gifting to teachers just before Valentine’s Day.
I’ve been thinking more about my kids lately in the context of the other adults in their lives, the ones who teach them five days a week, the parent and non-parent ones they will remember when they are older as making a difference, good or bad, in their lives. I’m nearing the end of the memoir by Nina Riggs The Bright Hour, her lovely, messy, heartbreaking telling on the process of her breast cancer and her wrestling with life. Spoiler alert: she dies. At the end, it is a celebration, no matter how happy or sad I feel ingesting her words, her impressive overlay of French philosopher Montaigne’s essays in her analysis (I sound like such an uppity asshole saying that, but it’s lovely), how unfair life feels in the midst of cancer tsunamis, how her always smiling photo on the jacket cover reminds me she wasn’t always smiling. There are blood and guts. Fractures. Financial planning. Chemo hair. The arms of her husband when in worried conference. Lamenting the loss of the mothering she will miss, though her boys will always feel her there. Her family and friends dying from cancer. There is so much more than just the look of the book, as tidy as it looks on the shelf, a box of wonder with a beautiful cover. The power of words from a lovely woman and talented writer.
That’s how I’ve felt about this blog in the past year, this skeleton waiting for more fleshiness, pretty photos but more under the surface. Sometimes there’s so much more than what I can say here; I’ve been reined in. I’m stepping into unchartered ground as the kids grow older. What can I share on the blog? Will my fuddy-duddy musings be like the yellow photo album their future mother-in-laws pull out to show awkward teeth and hairstyles? Will I add to the overall gestalt of anxiety permeating our children growing up in a digital age of truncated spellings and emoji speak and likes and selfies and perfectly angled photos? I’m not sure. I’ve begun to tread more carefully when it comes to storytelling, lest I add to the mix.
This blog is kind of like a memoir, though I’d add lots more blood and guts in the mix if I didn’t spin it around food. That wouldn’t fly with most readers and I’d ruin your lunch on a daily basis. I’ll save those powerful words for other writing.
Here’s to passion and the blood and guts of life. Let’s celebrate everything. I had a my seven year itch last year for the sixth anniversary. I’m off to celebrate with the neat and chaotic. Happy Valentine’s Day, a little early, too.
One year ago: I wrote a post about taking a break and hired Mui Tsun to redesign the site. WordPress guru! I loved working with her.
Three years ago: pandan chiffon cake
Four years ago: polenta chips with rosemary and parmesan
Five years ago: mulled cider with homemade spice sachet
Six years ago: cannellini bean, ricotta, chocolate torte
Seven years ago: the very first post! – debutante cake
Definitely check out Teresa Floyd’s lovely food and photography blog Now, Forager for this recipe (linked above and in the recipe below) and other beautiful desserts.
- 1 ounce (28g) sugar #1
- 3 teaspoons (7g) yellow pectin (DO NOT replace this with other pectin. See my passion fruit pâte de fruit recipe for the chemistry discussion.)
- 7 ounces (210g) blood orange juice, such as Boiron Puree (I used freshly squeezed juice and adjusted the measurements slightly. 210g = 7 ounces for me, whereas Teresa notes 199g when she used the Boiron.)
- 2 ounces (56g) lemon juice, fresh
- 2 tablespoons (36g) glucose or light corn syrup. I used light corn syrup.
- 11 ounces (313g) sugar #2
- ½ teaspoon (2g) citric acid
- sanding sugar
- Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper on all sides. Silicon works great too if you have the right sized mat.
- In a small bowl, combine the sugar #1 and yellow pectin. Mix well and sift clumps.
- In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together the blood orange juice, lemon juice, and sugar-pectin mixture. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. This happens fast so watch carefully.
- Whisk in glucose and bring back to a boil. Whisk in half of sugar #2 and continue whisking until mixture returns to a boil. Add remaining half of sugar #2 and continue to whisk until mixture returns to a boil. Continue cooking the mixture until it reaches 223F (106C), whisking constantly to prevent scorching. This didn't take long for me to do -- not like the passion fruit pâte de fruit (which also made a lot more volume).
- Immediately remove from heat and whisk in citric acid. Pour hot blood orange pâte de fruit mixture into prepared 8×8 baking pan and set on cooling rack. Make sure your counter space cooling space is even so your layer gels evenly.
- Allow to sit at room temperature for at least three hours to set. Overnight is better.
- Cut and sand the jellies. Use aspic cutters to make cute shapes or cut with sharp knife into 1-inch squares. Allow to sit another 24 hours on a drying rack. This helps a crust form to keep the weepy/sticky goo from developing (I hate that).
- Store in airtight container for about 2 weeks. I do longer without much change on my other pâte de fruit recipes, though sometimes the jellies will absorb the container flavor -- use glass if possible.