Sunday, December 29, 2013

Candied Orange Peel // The Resolution (Weeks 17-19)

When my best friend and I were teenagers, we made a tradition of spending the day before New Year's Eve together in her bedroom writing a series of lists. The first was always a list of our favorite moments from the year, usually made up of silly teenage stuff (the moment my crush acknowledged the fact that I was alive, a successful slumber party prank, stuff like this…). Next, we made a list of our least favorite moments from the year (the day I failed my first English test, a bad breakup…). And then, in a grand conclusion, we made our list of resolutions for the coming year. 

But before we finished writing out our resolutions, we took a moment to pull out our lists from the previous year. Even though, back then, the resolutions were somewhat juvenile, there was something deeply satisfying about crossing items off and acknowledging that, despite everything else, we actually did accomplish something that year (even if that something was being brave enough to wear frosted lipstick or to purchase our first belly tees). When all that was said and done, we both pulled fresh sheets of paper from our journals and spent a few moments quietly writing out our new resolutions (try out for the soccer team, tell Scott I think he is the cutest boy in the universe…). Once complete, we read them aloud to one another, perhaps so we could hold each other accountable for the next twelve months, before neatly folding them up and tucking them into a drawer, promising not to peek at them again until the end of the following year. 

Although this week marks twelve years since my friend has passed, I've still managed to keep alive the tradition we started together. Each year, I pick an afternoon in late December when I can sit silently for an hour or so to think about all I hope to change about myself and my life, and all I hope to accomplish in the year ahead. Usually, the list involves money (figure out ways to make more of it, figure out ways to not become driven only by it). Often, there is a bullet or two related to health (begin to meditate again, keep up with my yoga practice, stop eating sweets for breakfast). And every year, I make sure to include a few lofty dreams. Sure, dreams aren't technically resolutions per se. However, I like to think that, by adding these dreams to my list, by taking the few minutes to actually think about them enough to physically write them down, is enough to make me recognize how much I really do want to achieve these things, lofty or not. And perhaps the resolution comes in resolving, finally, to make strides to work harder, to always dream bigger, to stop making excuses and to really go after these things in my life that I crave. 

This year, despite all the stress, the fear, the fluctuating bank statements, the heavy lifting, and the arguments about permits and health inspections and what in the hell to call vegetarian meatballs, it turns out we did actually accomplish something. More than just something, really. 

But we're not done yet. In fact, the resolutions written on my 2014 list are perhaps the most ambitious yet. However, the good news is that we have a whole fifty two weeks to try to achieve them. In the meantime, maybe it isn't so terrible to do precisely what I've been doing these past few days: lounging on our couch, and indulging in these candied orange peels, which I've been dropping into glasses filled with champagne and eating straight from the jar. Happy New Year all!

Candied Orange Peel
from Food 52

- 4-6 oranges (any variety works, though stay away from grapefruit and lemon for this recipe)
- 2 1/2 cups sugar, plus more for tossing (about 2 more cups)
- 2 cups water, plus more for boiling

Slice the oranges into quarters. Using a spoon or paring knife, scoop the fruit away from the peel, being sure to remove as much of the white pith as possible (unless you prefer the candy to be a bit bitter). Slice the peel into thin slices.

Add the sliced orange peels to a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. Drain the boiling water and refill the pot with fresh water. Bring the fresh water to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. Drain and repeat the process one more time.

Pour the boiled orange peels into a medium-sized bowl and set aside. Thoroughly rinse and dry the saucepan. Add the 2 cups water and the sugar to the saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. When the sugar is dissolved, reduce to a simmer and add the orange peels. Simmer on low heat for about 2- 2/ 1/2 hours, stirring every half hour or so.

Set a metal cooling rack inside a large baking sheet. Using tongs, remove the orange peels from the syrup and set on the drying rack. Allow the orange peels to dry overnight. The next day, add the orange peels and about 2 cups of sugar to a medium-sized bowl. Gently toss the orange peels until they are fully coated in sugar. Transfer to an airtight container.  

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