Sorry for the unannounced disappearance!
The move back to the states, living out of a small bedroom with two animals, and being without a steady means of transportation has made it difficult for me to concentrate on blogging! On top of that, all of my spare time lately has been spent house hunting and Christmas shopping.
Luckily, we did find a nice house, but for now it’s empty since our furniture is still on its way back from Sicily! But Smack and Thumbelina have moved into the new place and Justin has been sleeping there on an inflatable mattress so that his commute to work is shorter. The animals are happy to have the run of the house after being mostly confined to one room for the last month! I’ve been borrowing a car when I can and splitting my time between my sister’s place and the new house. Hopefully the furniture and my car will arrive sometime in January.
Tomorrow, I am heading back up to central California to spend Christmas and New Year’s with the rest of my family. I will have my sourdough starter in tow and plan on making a sourdough swap with some Bay Area relatives! If everything goes well, I’ll be returning with a new (to me) starter that has been in my cousin’s family for decades (maybe centuries)! I’ll know more about the history of it soon.
Phew! Now you’re all caught up.
So, what have I been doing, foodwise, in San Diego? Eating out a lot, unfortunately! Don’t get me wrong, I do like to eat out occasionally. But now that my body is used to eating good, home cooked meals, it doesn’t like it when I eat out too much! Not only have I been packing on the pounds (something that happens every time I come back to the states), but I haven’t been feeling that great either. But I have to admit that despite my increasing waistline and that not-so-healthy feeling, I’ve been enjoying eating out at some good Mexican, Greek, Chinese, and American restaurants!
One healthy thing I have been eating a lot of lately is the wonderful tangerines off the tree in my sister’s backyard. The oranges aren’t quite ripe yet but the tangerine tree is loaded with super sweet, perfectly ripe, seedless tangerines! Mostly we peel and eat them right off the tree but we’ve also been enjoying them in salads and even muffins!
My favorite salad so far was made of tangerines and jicama with garlic, olive oil, cilantro and crushed red pepper. This was actually one of the first things I created after arriving in San Diego and it was made with a bag of tangerines I found sitting on the kitchen counter one day (this was before I realized that my sister’s tangerines were ripe). I wasn’t sure who the fruit belonged to, but I figured that they were free for the taking since they had been left on the counter! I later found out that they were a gift from my brother-in-law’s aunt. Thanks, Aunt Monica!
The salad is a simple creation but peeling and sectioning the tangerines might seem intimidating if you’ve never done it before. Although some might think that tangerines don’t yield enough fruit to make this method worth the effort, I disagree! It really didn’t take much time at all and I enjoyed this salad even more than the orange salads I usually make! Here are some step-by-step photos to show you the process:
1. Cut off the top and bottom of the tangerine.
2. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut off the peel in sections, being sure to remove all of the white pith as you go.
3. Continue until the tangerine has been peeled completely.
4. Holding the tangerine in one hand and a paring knife in the other, carefully remove each section by cutting just inside the white membrane on either side.
5. Don’t throw away any of the peels or empty membranes, you’ll be salvaging the leftover juice from these later!
5. You should end up with perfectly smooth, bite-size, membrane-free tangerine pieces. I peeled and sectioned 4 or 5 tangerines to get this amount (enough for my lunch!):
Next comes the jicama! If you aren’t familiar with this slightly sweet, crunchy root, Wikipedia offers a good explanation. It might not be the prettiest thing to look at, but jicama is wonderful in salads!
I usually shred it, but this time I decided to try it cubed.
I wanted to have equal parts tangerine and jicama but I just eyeballed the amount instead of actually measuring.
Next, I chopped up a handful of cilantro leaves to sprinkle over the top.
Now for the dressing. Hopefully you listened to me and saved that pile of tangerine peels and mebranes! You want to squeeze every last bit of juice from that mess! You can even pour off the juice that has collected on the cutting board and whatever has collected in the bowl or plate of tangerine sections. You should be able to salvage about a tablespoon of juice per peeled tangerine. Exact amounts aren’t important, just collect as much juice as you can and put it in a bowl. This is about a quarter cup of juice:
Next, pour in an equal amount of extra virgin olive oil:
Then add one a clove or two of fresh chopped garlic (I used one clove for 1/4 C. juice and 1/4 C. olive oil):
Finally, whisk it all together! If you don’t have a cute little whisk like this one, don’t worry! A fork will do just fine.
To finish your salad, sprinkle the plate of tangerines and jicama with fresh ground black pepper, sea salt and a sprinkle of crushed red pepper (if you like it spicy, add lots of crushed red pepper, it’s great that way). Pour a few spoonfuls of dressing over the salad and reserve the rest for another use.
Now it’s time to eat!
Tangerine and Jicama Salad with Garlic and Cilantro
4 or 5 tangerines, peeled and sectioned
equal amount of cubed jicama (eyeball it)
handful of fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
pinch of sea salt
fresh ground black pepper
pinch of crushed red pepper
dressing to taste (recipe follows)
Combine tangerine pieces and jicama in a bowl or on a plate. Sprinkle with cilantro, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Top with a few spoonfuls of Tangerine Garlic Dressing. Serves one or two.
Tangerine Garlic Dressing
1/4 C. fresh squeezed tangerine juice
1/4 C. extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Whisk together all ingredients.
Now I’m ready for some oranges! Although the oranges on my sister’s tree aren’t quite ripe, I know I’ll have access to plenty of fresh oranges once I get up to Madera tomorrow. My goal is to create a few new recipes using some of our wonderful California oranges when I get there. In the meantime, here are some orange recipes from last winter!
And it turns out that someone did try making my Lemon Sugar Cookies with oranges instead of lemons like I had suggested after seeing that Patricia had tried them with Limes. Well, she actually used clementines but I think it’s close enough! Check out Allison’s Clementine Sugar Cookies at A Day Late and a Dollar Short.
One last thing! I want to send out a huge thank you to Ben Lew, the very talented designer who created the original Pinch My Salt theme for this blog. He is the one responsible for the new winter colors which showed up at the beginning of the month. If you only read my posts through a feed reader, stop by and check out the new look! If you are looking for a designer, Ben’s portfolio, resume, and contact info can be found at BenLew.com