I've been home a lot in the past couple weeks, since I had my hours at work reduced to zero (yes, again). I was limping long at 5-10 hours a week for a couple months before Christmas, then they said "sure, take two weeks off for the holidays, no problem", so we went to visit family. When we got back, I went into work on Monday Jan. 4, and was told that there is nothing for me to work on until probably March. Sigh.
Anyway, I've been home a lot. Hence the recorder obsession. And going to the gym every day. Which are not entirely useless pursuits, I suppose. Funnily enough, the laundry doesn't seem to be getting folded any faster even though I'm home more.
Onward to the point of this post! I did something today that I've always wanted to try. I candied orange peel.
That's three oranges worth of peel, and it is SO much better than the stuff from the grocery store! Super easy, too. I just peeled the oranges (with a vegetable peeler, so as not to get any of the white pith), cut the peels into pieces, and boiled them in one cup of water until tender. Then I added one cup of sugar and boiled until the syrup was mostly absorbed and the peels were almost translucent. I tossed them in a bit more sugar so they wouldn't stick together, and voila! They're sweet and a little bitter, and very powerfully orange-flavored. Quite nice; not overly sweet, and not gummy like the store-bought ones. I think it will be fabulous in quick bread.
I also have been playing with a new kitchen toy this winter:
I got myself a dehydrator in October, when I was given a large box of apples by a coworker. There were too many for Emma and me to eat before they spoiled, so I sliced and dried most of them. I also did tomatoes (again, excess from a coworker's garden), and several batches of beef jerky. The jerky was a huge hit with Emma and Shaun (and me) and disappeared in a blink.
After that box of apples was used up, I received another big box! Apparently, it was a good apple year in Mike's yard. I didn't think we needed more dried apples (since I'm the only one who will eat them), so I sauced the second box. I got my mom's old food mill when we were at Dad's house over Christmas, and spent a day processing them into yummy, yummy applesauce. I had 30 pounds of apples in that second box, and it made 10 quarts. I didn't even add any extra sugar, and Emma declared it was "the best applesauce I've ever eaten." That's a win.
So there it is: the remaining 6 quarts of applesauce (yes, we've gone through 4 quarts in two weeks...), a quart of dried tomatoes, two half-pints of candied orange peel, and a gallon of dried apples. Tucked away safely in my cupboard, and making me feel very smug.
Today, in addition to the orange peel, I started a batch of cranberries drying into craisins; just plunged into boiling water until they cracked, then soaked in orange juice and honey for an hour to sweeten them slightly before spreading them on the dehydrator trays. They've been in there four hours so far, and should be done before bedtime.