Meyer Lemon & Orange Citrus Butter *Out-of-Stock*
8oz~$12 ea, 4oz~$7ea, 2oz~$5 Gift Basket Sampler Jars
THIS HAS BEEN an experimental year of erratic culinary explorations & discoveries. I’ve had an interest in cooking for 50 years!!! Ever since I was a child working with our patient cook Manu, in Lahore, (West) Pakistan. My gourmet culinary forays as a teen exhibited maturing skills. Though a VERY communicative person (some think excessively so) ~ I never planned on or even thought of becoming a food blogger…
Life presents circumstances and opportunities for us to pursue…or not. FigsWithBri is that for me. After my daughter-in-law Briana died last October (shortly before her 32nd birthday), Bri’s global FWB food blogging community mourned with us, offering their sweet support and kind words as a balm for a profound loss we had to bear, but will never forget.
Bri poured herself into this blog from JULY 2007 until the Spring of 2008, when she became too ill to cook or to write. She assembled an impressive body of work, gathered enthusiasts from near-and-far, and seemed to have ‘found her calling.’ All of us thought she was on her way to something special. Well, she was. But it wasn’t to be here…with the rest of us.
After the piercing pain from the hole left in our family began to ease, the question came up about what to do with FigsWithBri? I couldn’t bear to take it off the web. It’s such a wonderful way to remember Briana! All these posts written with her enthusiastic ‘voice,’ unusual gourmet & hearty yummy vegetarian recipes for family & friends to return to, for new readers to discover, and for us to remember Bri with…
Marc, her husband (my son), is still in no condition to cook. It was an activity, he and Bri did together….sparked by Bri’s boundless enthusiasm for locally grown produce, interest in sustainable living, and appreciation for delicious food prepared ‘just-so.’
So, I’ve stepped in to keep FWB ‘alive,’ to stay in touch with all of you, and to give expression to how much Brizy’s still an intimate part of our lives.
It’s not really about my unintentional creation: Citrus Butter ~ though we’ll get to that ~ or even about food photography, but rather is a tribute to a confluence of three women, who have been formative in my culinary interests. Each has left me heirlooms to remember them by.
Some background, first, as shared by Bee & Jai of Jugalbandi:
“heir·loom (ârloom) [Middle English heirlome : heir + lome, lome = implement;] noun.
1. A valued possession passed down in a family through succeeding generations.
2. An article of personal property included in an inherited estate. An heirloom is “passed on” to the next generation, but in its original meaning, it was part of an estate — not an outright gift from one person to another. Thus, it is an “impending” item that is passed from one generation to another, because of “heres” or “heredity.” (Source)
Bee & Jai continue “Some things endure the test of time… Food left to its own devices, characterized by excellence, maturity, and enduring appeal.“
The heirlooms featured in this post are “valued possessions” passed along through my family:
1) The mixed collection of delicate hand-painted gold gilt ‘Chinese’ porcelain dinnerware & earthenware service pieces my maternal grandmother, Celeste B. Amstutz, collected over 40 years of gracious living in Singapore. She and my grandfather, Bishop Hobart Amstutz, were posted there during the middle of the 20th century (early ’20s to late ’60’s) as a Methodist missionaries.
Though the unusually large collection is valued at hundreds of dollars (per a local antiques appraiser), these pieces aren’t genuine antiques. They were made by skilled artisans in Hong Kong & Japan during the middle of last century (1940s – 1960s) to emulate older authentic Chinese antiques.
2) The sterling silver ‘iced tea’ spoons made in Thailand may also be from Grandma Celeste or perhaps from my paternal Grandmother, Helen H. Brush. She and Grandpa Charles Brush (who died in his 60’s and whom I only met when I was two) lived as Baptist missionaries in Burma followed by another 24 years during the final years of the Raj, in the state of Bengal in eastern India.
3) This FigsWithBri.com blog ~ a NEW ‘heirloom’ birthed two years ago ~ but a deeply valued possession of ours and of her readers, ie. “part of an estate — not an outright gift from one person to another…an “impending” item…passed from one generation to another…characterized by excellence and enduring appeal.” FWB is Briana’s legacy. Her gift to each one of us.
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Now for this ‘accidental’ recipe, if you’ve managed to read this far…kudos!
Creamy Lemon & Orange Citrus ‘Butter’ (crystallized lemon-orange syrup) was a wonderful left-over from making candied lemon slices & orange rinds ‘Preserving Magic’ this past spring.
I used 8 cups (2 liters) of water in a stainless steel saucepan. Brought it to a rolling boil over high heat with first, whole Meyer lemon slices, followed by Naval orange peels. Cooked each batch for 15 minutes or so until the rinds were tender. (Test by piercing one with a sharp knife tip, skewer, toothpick, cake tester…whatever you have handy.)
After the cooking was done, I gently scooped the cooked citrus pieces out of the hot water with a slotted spoon and placed them on the rack to drain to use later. Put paper towels underneath the rack to catch the drips.
Next, transfer 2 cups (500 mL) of the citrus cooking water to a smaller saucepan. Add 2 cups (500 g) of sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat. Add the drained citrus slices or peels. Stir to coat well. Let the sugar water & citrus sit at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight.
After 8 hours of steeping, place the saucepan over low heat and cook until the slices / peel have absorbed all the syrup, about 30 minutes. Adjust the heat, so the syrup doesn’t boil over. Watch carefully towards the end of the cooking time, so the slices / peel don’t burn.
I did this twice with the same batch of syrup, ~ first with lemons, then with oranges ~ effectively bringing the syrup close to its sugaring (candying) point. Added an extra cup of syrup: 1 cup water+1 cup sugar as I didn’t think it would be enough for my lemon slices to cook in. So there was plenty of syrup left over after the half hour of cooking.
The next morning, after the sugar syrup had cooled off, looked to see how much was left in the saucepan. Discovered it had cooled into a gorgeous thick jelly, which I poured into a large 16 ounce jar for use in another culinary adventure.
Well, THAT culinary ‘adventure’ ended up being simply enjoying it on toast for breakfast and sharing it with our sweet friends Shankari & Rajesh from Stream of Consciousness.
Since I don’t eat a lot of jam, jelly, or syrup (though I have a passion for making gourmet jams & preserves), our share has lasted for 6 months. Over that time, in the refrigerator, it’s changed consistency. After four months it got the ‘creamy’ opaque quality shown in the featured photograph, then the crystals began to separate looking much like nebulas floating in the remaining clear syrup (see following photos).
Was intriguing to watch, sort of like a childhood crystal-growing experiment, which I attempted to do ages ago with much more boring results.
Then, of course, with food blogs the question of how to photograph it came up. Though Marc made the best suggestion, to light it from below, I had already eaten too much of the last slim jar…
Autumn approaches. Meyer lemons grow fat on our little trees. Soon it will be time to mull over winter holiday recipes & homemade food gifts, and rather than sugar plums…to make candied lemon slices, glittery orange rinds, and more Meyer Lemon & Orange Citrus Butter.
On purpose, this time.