Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Fighting Portland's winter gloom: citrus, products and booze

If you market a wintertime mood picker-upper and you do so via scent? I'm your target market. I've been dousing myself in Origin's Grapefruit Gloomaway and spending my allotted 30 minutes in front of the light box every morning in order to keep the wintertime blues away. There's not much sun in Portland this time of year, the days are short and the rain can be relentless. This Southern California girl has lived here for 18 years, but the winters can get to me if I'm not careful.

So this morning while I sprayed Grapefruit Gloomaway over my entire body and gave an extra boost even to my hair, I realized it's high season for citrus in Southern California. And I thought of my smuggling of kumquats and limoncello making. And I filled an order for canning labels for a woman who inspired me, making grapefruit marmalade in Texas.

And then? Then I marched my ass to my local New Season's market to peruse the citrus available. So many different kinds. But in the end? The best looking jumped into my bag, and that was pink Texas grapefruit and blood oranges. I was going to can, dammit, and the wintertime SAD's could kiss my California ass. (I'd like to insert a karate kick right here, you feelin' it?)

Oh blood oranges. You are the naughty fruit of the orange family, aren't you? Look at that deep pink color.

Blood oranges

I zested and peeled and juiced and the whole kitchen smelled like a citrus factory. Wait, wait. A blood orange citrus grove! Not a factory. And as the juice of the blood oranges dripped through my fingers, I realized this was so much better than any Origin's Grapefruit Gloomaway. I mean, that stuff is good, I totally love it. But this complete sensory immersion? It was citrus bliss.

But then it happened. Wait, wait. It didn't happen. The marmalade didn't gel. Well, I'll tell you a secret. I think I put the sugar in too early. Or something. But in the end? It didn't gel. And I still canned it. I processed it and hoped it would become a thick, sticky mess of a gel. And I was wrong. And because my glass is half full? I determined this blood orange concoction would be perfect with whiskey and sweet vermouth. Also known as the perfect addition to my wintertime Manhattan.

A Manhattan is much better with blood orange syrup

The Manhattan is a classic. Whiskey, vermouth and bitters. I've been working on my Manhattan, partially inspired by Mad Men. So what if my blood orange jam wouldn't do what I wanted? If it's going to stay liquefied, I'll still drink you. And I'll give you as gifts to my boozy friends. Take that!

And can I say? It makes the Manhattan a much better drink. Yes it does.

So in the end? I have fought off the SADs and I have made a classic drink better, and this evening's stir fry was made better with a blood orange glaze on the chicken. And booze. Boozy citrus. I can make it through this winter, right? I said, RIGHT?! Right. Now I'm off to check flights to Mexico, or at least San Diego. What? A girl can check, right?


Metroknow said...

That sounds soooo good. We lived in Southern CA for 6 years and this really made me miss our blood orange tree. Super abundant producer around this time of year as I recall. We also had a tangerine tree, bell pepper plants of all colors, and on and on...pardon me while I go down a bottle of fish oil. :)

Thanks for the post and the pics - great idea to bring some much-needed sunshine in the house.

CrackerLilo said...

I totally and completely relate as a Florida girl in NYC. I use orange blossom perfume as a pick-me-up.

Do you mind if I borrow/adapt this idea one day? I have a weird little hockey fan blog where I combine my love for cocktails with my love for the Pittsburgh Penguins. (It's not my point to promote it, sorry, but you can see here.) I've been using citrus a lot in cocktails and everything else, including couscous!

Oh, and I *love* blood oranges the best!!!

Anonymous said...

Darn you. This post made me go crazy for a few minutes. I looked all through my pantry,and I have no real marmalade. I just have a citrus/green tomato marmalade I made a couple of years ago, and I don't think that would taste the same. Oh well.

Anonymous said...

so glad to have helped you kick the winter blues' ass! there are not a lot of things i miss about SoCal, but the citrus and flora really pull at me, sometimes. y'all stay warm and sunny over there!

Heather said...

Ciao Bella Blood Orange sorbet is the best - turned me onto blood oranges in the first place. And Mad Men rocks.

fairydogmother said...

Right now nothing sounds better than the combination of boozy citrus and packing for a warm, sunny beach locale!

Rozanne said...

Looks and sounds great!