Wednesday, September 30, 2009

a hint of things to come...

Driving through New Mexico, I saw this stand of Aspens, just starting to turn...

Monday, September 28, 2009

some images from the open road in NM

Uh huh, OK, you don't have to tell me twice...

You've gotta love that sky. You can smell the rain...and I've lived in Texas long enough to learn to love that hot, dusty scent...

Yep, open range means open range...and cattle guards do serve a practical purpose...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday cooking project - candied orange peel

Sweet or salty?

For me, salty wins out every time. I don't have much of a sweet tooth, although I do enjoy good dark chocolate. That said, there's one confection that I love, and always enjoy: candied orange peel, and candied orange peel dipped in dark chocolate...heaven! This weekend I decided to try my hand at making this treat. It turned out to be an all day project, but my kitchen smelled like heaven and the end result was well worth the effort.

I looked for recipes on the net, and all of them started out pretty much the same way: with cutting the ends off the oranges, then quartering the oranges and scraping out the meat to leave the orange peel and pith. I used this method on the first of 6 oranges and decided there had to be a better way. Even using a grapefruit spoon, this was incredibly messy and seemed to waste a lot of good orange.

On the other hand, it immediately resulted in a glass of freshly squeezed juice, which was pretty good to drink as I worked.

But convinced there had to be a better way, I went through my batterie de cuisine and found the handy little plastic device designed to peel an orange with almost no effort.


In no time at all I had a bowl filled with quartered orange peel, ready to be sliced into narrow strips.

Like this.

I covered the orange slices with cold water which I brought to a boil. I boiled the orange slices for 5 minutes, then drained off the boiling water, added more fresh, cold water, and repeated the process two more times, for a total of three blanchings.

Next, I prepared a simple syrup, using 3 cups of sugar and 1 1/2 cups water. I cooked that to the soft ball stage, which took about 8 minutes. I added the orange peel and simmered this concoction, covered, until the orange peels were translucent, which took about an hour and a half at a very low simmer.

When they were done, they looked like this.

I drained them, decanting and saving the orange flavored simple syrup to use as a sweetener for ice tea or mixed drinks.

Then I rolled the strips in sugar and put them on a rack to dry for about 45 minutes.

Finally, I dipped them in bittersweet melted chocolate and put them on wax paper in the refrigerator to cool. In a tightly covered, refrigerated container, these will keep for a month or so. Enjoy!

Here's the recipe; just follow the instructions above:

6 oranges
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water

1 cup sugar for dipping slices in
8 ounces chocolate for dipping

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Santa Fe

I love Santa Fe. When I went to Taos, I made a day trip down to Santa Fe, where I had lunch at La Fonda before walking around and snapping a few pics afterward.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What I Did Today...

1. Went to work.
2. Talked with Christo, who was starting work at a new place. He has the same boss, because his boss happens to own the new place.
3. Went out to lunch with friends.
4. Talked on the phone with my younger brother.
5. Provided a glass of red wine for my neighbor's daughter, a young single mom who occasionally walks across the street and hits me up for this, knowing I'm good for it. I'm amused, and don't mind.
6. Spent four and a half hours this evening doing case management at home on my laptop.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

welcome, FALL!

It's a deliciously cool evening here. I got home just a short while ago, and I'm going to have a little dinner and then get some sleep. I love fall.

Monday, September 21, 2009

a dark and stormy night...

There's an amazing thunderstorm going on outside right now, but I'm inside, cozy with my cat. Ike is no fan of storms, and he's close by. I've lit some candles in anticipation of losing power. So far that hasn't happened here, although A, who lives about a mile south of me, called a few minutes ago to say that he's lost power at his place. I have always loved storms, and to be inside, cozy, while the thunder claps and rain falls hard outside, is one of my favorite kinds of evenings. In the meantime, I've made myself a salad of mixed field greens, walnuts, goat cheese and dried cranberries, and I've tossed it with balsamic vinaigrette, and I'm going to eat that, by candlelight if necessary, with a glass of red wine to accompany it while I listen to a little music and enjoy this rainy night.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fall 2009


I'm continuing to clean house, although I keep putting off doing the gameroom, which is a mess. But on the plus side, I finished the living room today. No matter what the season, I love this room, but at this time of year especially I look forward to cool evenings, a fire in the fireplace, and the pleasure of having the company of friends and family coming over to share some food, a glass of wine, and good conversation in this comfortable room.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Taos Pueblo hornos (ovens)

Aren't these ovens BEAUTIFUL? I love the shape of them!