It can be a rollercoaster ride around here this time of year. In the past week, we've had high winds, mud slide warnings and flood watches, with a rogue spot of sun blotted out by rain via what are known as atmospheric rivers.
And, it's not technically winter yet.
The winters of my childhood were nothing like the ones here in Western Washington. We had sunny and warm Southern California days with clear blue skies and cool nights. We could walk coatless, often even sweaterless, or if we were really daring, in shorts down to the park.
We also had oranges. Piles of them, from the orange groves further inland. I can still see mounds of the thick-skinned navel type gathered on the kitchen table. They were an inextricable part of our Chinese immigrant household. Oranges, always oranges, after dinner.
Our uncles would tote them into our house in large, white cartons that only they could lift. The adults were crazy for them, polishing off case after case. Each time we walked into one of our many aunts or uncles' homes, we'd be greeted with the offer of tea and oranges. As a child, I wondered what magical sway the citrus orbs held over them. To me, the grown ups seemed bewitched.
Each of us kids would try to peel the fruit in one ragged spiral. I, being the youngest, was the most inexperienced, the slowest, the least competititve. With my small fingers, my orange finally clean of pith and peel, I would pry open the ball of segments, the sweet juice running down my forearms.
Even as a tiny child, I was greedy for every last drop of goodness. I wanted to -- and did -- slurp all of the juices off my hands, my arms.
I didn't wonder, until I got older, and found out about things like cheesecake and chocolate chip cookies (which didn't exist in our home) whether there was anything better than a sweet winter orange from San Bernadino.
Honestly, I don't think there is.
A Winter Sorbet
I was interested in trying out the technique that the River Cafe uses to make their Strawberry Lemon Sorbet. They puree an entire lemon along with the sugar to bypass the usual simple syrup and add a touch of pleasing bitterness. I think it adds some body and textural interest as well. I've used all sugar here, but if you want a smoother result, you can sub out part of the sugar with a non-high fructose corn syrup. You can also remove the orange pulp and zest before freezing by pressing your mixture through a fine-meshed sieve. But, I like the texture!
Adapted from River Cafe via Food 52's Genius Recipes (a terrific book!).
Makes about 1 1/2 quarts.
2 1/2 cups cold orange juice, freshly squeezed
1 1/4 cups cold pomegranate juice
1/2 an orange, preferably organic and cut into pieces
1 cup of granulated sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Mix the orange and pomegranate juices together in a large, 4-cup measuring cup. In a food processor, blitz together the orange pieces and sugar. If it remains clumpy add a spoonful or two of the juice you've measured out. Add pureed mixture to orange and pomegranate juices. Add lemon juice.
Freeze according to instructions on your ice cream maker. It will be soft, so if you'd like it firmer transfer it to an airtight container and freeze for four hours before serving. This is nice served in small portions after a rich meal.
Variation: To make into a sherbet add one cup of whole milk, half and half, or heavy cream to the fruit and juice mixture and freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions.
Today's Bonus, my favorite song mentioning tea and oranges, "Suzanne," by Leonard Cohen. Actually, one of my all-time favorite songs by one of my all-time favorite artists. Enjoy!