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Candied Orange Peel in Zucchini Walnut Tea Cake

2017 March 6

One thing you must know about me before you read any further is that I have no longer any sort of commitment to speed.

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If there’s a short cut in the form of a sauce that is pre-made and bottled just waiting on the shelf, promising to cut my cooking time half, it’s not for me. But if there’s a path that cuts through the deep dark woods, with obscure herbs to gather in the strange light of the half moon then that’s the one I’ll choose.

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It’s not like I have all the time in the world. Who ever does? Like you probably are, or someday will be in some form for somebody, I’m caregiver to two school-going boys with their own hurly-burly daily needs, and weekly work deadlines that sometimes press every last breath out of my tired ribcage. I have every need for efficiency and speed.

But I’ve also learned, in the most painful ways possible, the arts of waiting. For sensations to pass, for loves to return, for ingredients to emerge, for hands to raise themselves, for plants to grow, and for the stars to align in such ways that allow time to empty out into expanses. Moments can contain eternities–the 10 minute break in the clouds after the 5-day hike before the mountain tops are covered once more, that tender embrace for which you waited years, maybe even decades. But when they happen, you know that half the journey to all things truly worthwhile has been in the waiting.

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Waiting, I’ve learned, is neither pause nor a parental command to patience nor boredom nor suffering, nor a test of endurance. It’s not just the time between now and an anticipated then. Waiting means being attuned to those hundreds of minuscule, complex, almost imperceptible shifts by which the world signals its movements and the universe speaks its mind. Waiting is the dissolution of the French philosopher Henri Bergson’s famous lump of sugar in a glass of water, the unraveling of crystals into molecules until there is no sugar lump any more. Waiting is not the passive activity that anthropologist Vincent Crapanzano held it to be. Rather, waiting means locating the precise moment when sugar becomes the water, when ripening becomes spoilage; waiting is understanding when the slow unfurling of tender new leaves will give way to a bolting basil. Waiting means being still while a child throws a tantrum, or watching the world go by in flashes of so many certitudes. Waiting means knowing the temporal nature of all these things in the world and of yourself, and knowing when to wait no more. Ingredients present themselves like long lost loves, and if you’ve ever waited for them, you’ll know when it’s time to gather them in that awaited embrace.

L’universe dur, observed Bergson. The universe has duration. 

Orange peels are, to me, a sort of waiting. Waiting for the happy children to finish the oranges, waiting for there to be enough peels to candy, waiting to use the candied peels in an everyday teacake that’s not so ordinary now, for all that waiting.

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I wait not so much for those elusive stretches of morning when baking can be like meditative practice, but for littler, more subtle expressions. Perhaps just for the desire for something sweet to articulate itself in a thought, or that moment right before the zucchini will grow bitter from age.

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To candy orange peels (I’ve adapted this process from the Bright Eyed Baker):

Cut the peels of 3 large oranges into thin slivers.

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Cover with water, bring to a boil. Drain and discard the water (or cool and use it to mop your floors for the fragrances to permeate your home). Repeat this process at least thrice. With each successive wash, the bitterness leaves your peels and they cook a little further. (I used a few whole kumquats in one of my batches. You could do this, too).

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For the final round, mix 1 cup of sugar with 3/4 cup of water. Heat to dissolve, and then add the orange peels. Leave this on medium heat to cook down until the syrup is almost fully absorbed, and only a spoonful or two remains.

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Drain off all the syrup that will drain. Spread out the peels onto a large baking sheet, and set aside in a cool, dry location to dry out completely. Use an oven with the light on to hasten this process if you live in a clime like mine, eternally moist-aired.

Toss with 1 tablespoon of sugar if you wish, and store in a tightly sealed jar for upto a month. Serve in little bowls all on its own, chop into quickbreads, or use as a garnish to cocktails.

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Zucchini Walnut Teacake with Candied Orange Peels

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Candied Orange Peels
Print
Ingredients
  1. The peels of 3 large naval oranges (or your local equivalent)
  2. 3/4 cup sugar
Instructions
  1. Cut the peels of 3 large oranges into thin slivers. Cover with water, bring to a boil. Drain and discard the water (or cool and use it to mop your floors for the fragrances to permeate your home).
  2. Repeat this process at least thrice. With each successive wash, the bitterness leaves your peels and they cook a little further.
  3. For the final round, mix 1 cup of sugar with 3/4 cup of water. Heat to dissolve, and then add the orange peels. Leave this on medium heat to cook down until the syrup is almost fully absorbed, and only a spoonful or two remains.
  4. Drain off all the syrup that will drain. Spread out the peels onto a large baking sheet, and set aside in a cool, dry location to dry out completely. This may take several hours. Use an oven with the light on to hasten this process if you live in a clime like mine, eternally moist-aired.
  5. Toss with 1 tablespoon of sugar if you wish, and store in a tightly sealed jar for upto a month.
  6. Serve in little bowls all on its own, chop into quickbreads, or use as a garnish to cocktails.
Adapted from from the Bright-Eyed Baker
Adapted from from the Bright-Eyed Baker
Pâticheri http://www.paticheri.com/
Zucchini Walnut Teacake with Candied Orange Peel
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 large zucchini, grated
  2. 1 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
  3. 1 small handful of
Dry Ingredients
  1. 1 ½ cups flour
  2. 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  3. ¼ teaspoon salt
  4. ½ teaspoon baking powder
  5. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Wet ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  2. 2 large eggs
  3. ¼ cup ordinary yoghurt (not Greek) or buttermilk
  4. ¾ cup sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat an oven to 350F/180C.
  2. Prep a 9” round or square baking pan by lining it with parchment. Butter and flour the parchment.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients in a single bowl and mix well.
  4. Whisk the wet ingredients together with the sugar, mixing well.
  5. Add dry ingredient mix to the wet in batches, mixing just barely enough to combine. Do not overmix.
  6. Quickly fold in the grated zucchini and walnuts, and the chopped candied orange peel
  7. Pour into your prepped plan, and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.
Pâticheri http://www.paticheri.com/

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