Tangerine Trees and Marmalade Tithes
When Ju-Boy and I were dating we played the “Where Is Your Family From?” game. My father was Hungarian, my mother Lithuanian. His mother was Irish, and his father was Viennese. Not Austrian, Viennese. He was very exact about that.
Grandpa was a true gem. I only came to know him late in his life and I could see that I missed out on years of entertainment. He had a true love of life, music, wine, women and song. He left Vienna as a child and moved to London, but despite his many years in England he had a certain Viennese flavor, a je n’ai sais quoi, or rather, an ich habe irgendetwas. He was never without a twinkle in his eye. He spoke softly and carried a big stick, and was full of humor, the same dry humor he passed on to his son. Being in the room with the two of them could be painful, you had to constantly be on your toes because you were never sure if they were being serious or not.
Like his sons and his grandsons, the man loved fruit. When he came to visit the house was filled with fruit. Actually, the house is always filled with fruit. But when Grandpa came to visit we made sure there was even more fruit than usual. Another thing we always made sure to have for Grandpa’s visit was a jar of store-bought marmalde. He loved marmalade. It used to irk me a bit, I make a mean jar of the stuff, but Grandpa usually came to visit in the warmer months of the year, and oranges are a winter fruit in Israel. I never did manage to have a jar of the homemade stuff available when he came through the door.
Three years ago Grandpa came out to Israel during the winter. He came specifically for Optimus Prime’s wedding to the Rani. With all the insanity of the festivities, the Shabbat chatan, the oofroof and the sheva brachot, I didn’t even think to make him some marmalade. There was always next year.
But next year never came. Grandpa was fortunate enough to see his first grandchild married. He went home to London and based on some pretty racy photos, celebrated Purim, big time. He celebrated his English 81st birthday on a Sunday, his Hebrew 81st birthday on Monday night, and died on Tuesday.
It’s been almost three years since Grandpa died, and he is missed. These days, every time I make some orange marmalade I get a bittersweet feeling in my heart. I wish I had made him a jar.
Enter Aussie Elie. If Grandpa’s passing saddens me whenever I make a batch of marmalade, Elie manages to put a smile on my face. He loves the stuff. I can’t even make a batch anymore without putting aside some for what has come to be known as Ma’aser Elie (Elie’s tithe). This winter alone I’ve made two or three batches, and no matter what time of night it’s done and jarred, Elie is at my door, ready for his dosage of sticky, orange goop.
One of the rules in my house is that you are not allowed to eat anything unless I’ve taken a picture of it. Ju-Boy knows this, the kids know this, but Aussie Elie sweeps in and swoops down and absconds with my marmalade before I can even photograph it. Enter Better-Half Hindy to save the day. The girl can be quite handy with a camera. And she’s quick, too, since I understand Elie can eat the stuff pretty fast and it’s gone before you know it.
Yeah, why not name it after Elie?
- 6 large oranges
- 1 kilogram sugar (2.2 pounds, 5 cups)
- Wash the fruit well. Really well. Cut away any blemishes.
- Cut into quarters, and then cut those quarters into half. Remove any pits.
- Place the orange pieces, skin and all, in the food processor and zhuzz around until finely chopped. You can leave in a few larger pieces for artistic interpretation. Depending on the size of your food processor, you may have to do this in two or three batches.
- You can add some crystallized ginger while zhuzzing, but I never have. I adore the stuff, but not everyone does.
- Dump the zhuzzed oranges into a heavy pot, and then dump the whole kilo of sugar on top.
- Bring to the boil, then lower the flame to medium. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. It can splatter, so be careful.
Do not double the ingredients. Rather, make two batches.
This never goes dark and can last for six months in the fridge without any need to sterilize the jars. Six months, or one Elie.