Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Clementines in Syrup

clementines in syrup

Let me tell you a tale of stupidity, hubris, exhaustion, redemption and success. Let me tell you about my clementines in syrup.

It all began with a plan. Not a good plan, but a plan nonetheless.

I had a good deed to repay. My friend mentioned something about cutting down on baked goods. I wasn’t thwarted. I am much more than a creamed sugar and fancy meringues. What that was remained to be seen.

My most brilliant ideas seem to form in locations where I can’t readily write anything down—when driving the car, in the shower, and on the cusp of sleep. This experience has made me rethink the brilliance of these fleeting ideas.

So back to that unfortunate plan. I had a bag of clementines and a slow cooker. And, my late-night brain was convinced that two were destined for a naughty meet up. Homey in a hip homemaker rather than hodge podge lodge, clementines in syrup were clearly perfection.
A quick search found a recipe from Vegan Yum Yum. The woman was on Martha, so no problem there. I am going to plead exhaustion. After all I haven’t had a full night’s since the Bush Administration. I decided not to read the Vegan Yum Yum recipe. Apparently Martha’s staffers might have seen brilliance there but I was too proud to read the recipe.

Instead, I did my own thing. Yes, I did get “doesn’t follow direction well” on my report cards every marking period. I got out the trusty slow cooker. Put in 3 cups hot water, 3 cups white sugar, ¾ cup brown sugar, 12 pink peppercorns, 6 Sichuan peppercorns, 4 cardamom pods, 4 stars of anise, 4 cloves, a cinnamon stick and my faith; turned the puppy on; and walked away.
It was then that I sat down to read the recipe. Backwards am I. Clearly. There is when I saw my mistake. I went back to the cooker to see the clementines. They bobbed happily in the spicy dark liquid to taunt me. Obviously, the slowcooker would never get hot enough to create a syrup from the sugar and water. DSC_0331
At this point, there were two hungry kids, a senile dog, and a husband under foot grabbing at things. So, with the full force of my frustration, I repeated stabbed the little buggers (the citrus fruit, I mean) with a skewer, as Vegan Yum Yum instructed. And, I left the concoction in the slowcooker.

Finally, as the calm of naptime fell upon the house, I went back to see what had become of my ill-fated fruit. The once jaunty fruit seemed soggy, deflated, even defeated. I poured the oranges and the liquid into a pot only to find all of the sugar congealed into one solid mass. I should have save the sugar. But after chiseling and coaxing that cake out of my slowcooker, I felt wronged by the sweetener and there was nothing it was going to do to win me back. It promptly went into the trash.

At which point, rather than partake in the restorative nap that my children were enjoying, I began the project again. Those oranges went into the freezer (and might become gelato.) New oranges were punctured and set aside. To the original liquid, new sugar was added, and then the mixture was heated on a stovetop and once gloriously redolent and viscous the syrup was placed back into the slowcooker. The next morning, choirs sang (itsy bitsy spider, mind you) and clementines in syrup were had.

clementines in syrup
Spiced Clementines in Sugar Syrup

Based though not as closely as I should have on Vegan Yum Yum

Heat until the sugar dissolves (do not boil)
3 cups hot water,
3 cups white sugar,
¾ cup brown sugar,
6 Sichuan peppers,
4 cardamom pods,
4 stars of anise,
4 cloves,
a cinnamon stick

Carefully, put the liquid into a slowcooker, add 10 clementines that have been punctured with a skewer. Weigh down with a plate (the edges of the plate should not touch the edge of the slowcooker.)

Cook on low for 8 hrs.


NKP said...

I've had experiences like that. I tend to have recipe ADD too, but I'm getting better..
What a fascinating recipe! What would you do with the clemintines after? How do you eat them? Skins too?

La Cuisine d'Helene said...

What a process. It does look really good.

Dharm said...

That looks just brilliant! sometimes we need quiet time of our own to get things done right with no interruptions! Happy Birthday for the 20th!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that you tried this project another time - and the clementines must be fantastic! I love the spices that you used here.

shaz said...

Oh how I love this post, it might have happened in my own kitchen. The "not reading instructions and doing own thing", the "trying again instead of catching up on sleep", and definitely the choirs of "itsy bitsy spider"- well, we call him "incy wincy" over here. Glad they worked in the end and they do look glorious.

Thistlemoon said...

I totally would have done the same thing - I always read the recipe afterwards....so bad!

Johanna GGG said...

families do get in the way of cooking projects - in the nicest way - and they often appreciate the fruits of your labours - though not in this circumstance - which is probably just as well given you had to repeat in your quest for perfection! (I have given up hoping to make the same thing many times to get it right and just see it as adding to my culinary development in most instances)

Alicia Foodycat said...

Well, the end result is very pretty! Is it really that pink?

Cynthia said...

Your endurance is inspiring. Gald it worked out.

Elizabeth said...

So? What happened to the other clementines? Surely they can be rescued.


P.S. I know it's wrong wrong wrong to laugh at the misfortunes of others. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Can't help myself though. If it's any consolation, I've done pretty much the same thing with countless recipes. Because I too am an expert and I don' need no stinkin' recipes!!

Julia @Mélanger said...

LOL, I've done that before, anticipating what will be in the recipe and doing something completely different from what's required. Too funny!

Chou said...

So beautiful, and so sad that slowcooker clementines aren't possible.

Soma said...

This sounds like a slice of heaven!