Oh how the rain fell, and kept falling, all through the month. How the rivers fumed and the mud slid and the grass grew greener, on every side of all the fences. How lucky we were and are, with our wooden houses and our cooking stoves and the roads washed away; it was all we could do to stay home, and hunker down, and maybe make some food in the kitchen…for comfort, don’t you know. And for love.
It’s February, after all. The month of mud and lovers. A good time to brush up on some kitchen skills that will please everyone.
No one will call this next recipe health food, unless you are an advocate of healthy fats, seasonal vegetables, and minimal processing. It is as local as you can get; we harvested ours right here from the demo garden. And the strange and complex flavor of the cardoon ribs is nourishing in it’s own right, awakening taste receptors that may have lain dormant for months. Bitter and warm and crunchy and salty, with just the right bit of tang and savor. A marvel to vanquish the winter blahs.
This recipe should make everyone happy. Vegetables for the women, beer for the men. Or however you divide these pleasures between you...
In a month like February, it’s best to split the difference.
Outside the storms pass over, leaving shreds of cloud above, and the ground littered with treasures; pine needles, forest grass, fallen leaves, mushrooms and mint. This wild soda is like a winter day in a jar, cool and bright and full of the flavors of home.
Citrus fruits are the darlings of winter; the market stalls are full of their bright peels in every warm shade of orange and yellow. Pick up a grapefruit, round and fat as a full moon in your hand. The blushing butter-yellow exterior hides a potent personality; grapefruits are full of complex flavors; bitter and sweet and tart all together. The bitterness is due to flavenoids present in pith and flesh; antioxidants can be both delicious and challenging. As we treat them here in this incredible tart, all the complexities combine to create something truly memorable.
May your palate and your heart be blessed with such rich and unusual meetings, over and over again.
Have you noticed anything about the flavor profiles we are highlighting here? They all have something in common. Perhaps you have tasted it as you were reading, a tingle at the back of the mouth, a curious quality that beguiles and engages, even as something warns us to beware…
Another flavor that would fit right at home in this lineup is the vibrant, broody hue of the Blood Orange Port Marmalade. Any of the marmalades, in fact, are a good example of that bitter yet enticing flavor combination, a gateway into the dark and sensuous world of under-explored flavors. It’s easy to dismiss jam as something for children, or as a simple sweet on breakfast bread, but it can be a tasting ground for some truly innovative flavors. Jams can be used not just on toast, but in baked goods or roast meats and vegetables, on their own or in concert with other flavors. We mention this here, because our class on seasonal jam making still has some slots open. Would any of you care to join us February 11th, for a class in Seasonal Jam and Marmalade making? Sign up here.
We know there’s a lot of jam recipes up on our site; we sometimes avoid making Yet Another Jam Recipe, because we have so many, and there are so many other amazing preservation and fermentation projects out there to explore. And yet… we wanted to win this marmalade contest. So Jess made up this marmalade. It’s really quite incredible.