Category Archives: Fruit
Once upon a time, not that long ago, but long ago enough that it happened in Chapter One, I was in the mall one evening and there was some kind of a New Age fair being held in the middle. There was a woman sitting at a table with a pile of Tarot cards and a few pretty pebbles, and she told me that if I would cross her palm with silver (or a 20 shekel note) she would read mine (palm, not the money). I’m not even sure if I believe in palm readings, but, why not? I sat down and she took my hand in hers.
“You are going to have many children,” she told me.
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.
The other day I was standing in line at the local post office. I was about to do something I hadn’t done in quite a while: buy a stamp and mail a letter. It was a long line, and the Ministry of Communication has generously provided two wide-screen televisions for our entertainment. All they played was an endless and very short loop of commercials touting the postal services now available over the Internet. Usually I do most of the official errands over the net. I used to run around town, from the post office, to the bank, to the National Insurance Institute, but now I do it all online. Instantly. Even writing mail is online and instant. Except for when I need a stamp.
I started thinking about the instant world we now live in. We can do many things over the Internet today that we couldn’t even envision a decade ago. Send a chatty little letter to a far-away friend? No need, just shoot off a quick email and click on send. Or post something to your friends’ wall on Facebook. Just want to say hi? Send them a text on your cell phone. Mail a letter? Who does that anymore?
Amazingly accurate predictions from 1993 — but tell me, what’s a phone booth?
All I find in my mailbox these days are credit card statements and junk mail. Even the credit card companies are imploring me to sign up online, log in and save a tree. Everyone wants to save paper and take up byte space.
As it was almost my turn (remember, I’m still in the post office), a young girl, around 11 years old or so, approached the clerk and told him she needed to send a letter to America, but she didn’t know how. The clerk smiled (as did everyone ever the age of 30 in line). When I was 11 I was writing letters to my friends just because we loved getting mail. I had a good friend in Brooklyn, we didn’t speak on the phone for years, we just sent letters. It was a huge thing to get really cool stationary for your birthday. Getting a letter was the most exciting thing next to the season premiere of Mork and Mindy! And here was this young girl, weaned on cell phones and instant chat screens, needing to send a letter for the first time, and she didn’t even know how. The clerk was patient, sold her a stamp, showed her where to stick it, and took the letter and posted it.
When it was my turn I also asked for a stamp. Again, the clerk smiled. “Not too many kids mail letters these days,” he said to me. “The whole world wants something in an instant.
It’s true. We just want to blink our eyes, wriggle our noses and everything arrives in an instant. Communication, knowledge, the television show you missed last night, even food. I want my calories and I want them now!
We need to slow down, before we burn out. So come travel with me, back to the past, when we were more patient. Remember when food was worth waiting for?
Forest Fruits Sorbet
This refreshing and delicious dessert can take a while to make, especially if you use an ice cream machine and forget to chill the container for 24 hours beforehand (which is what happened to me). Still worth the wait!
- 2/3 cup water
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 cups pureed forest fruits
- Boil the water and sugar together. The sugar should be dissolved and then let the syrup boil for another two minutes. Cool. Be patient, the stuff has to get to room temperature at least. Feel free to stick the pan in the fridge.
- Mix the sugar syrup together with the fruit puree. Pour into your ice cream machine and process according to the machine’s instructions.
- Alternatively, you can just place the stuff in a big Tupperware bowl and bung it in the freezer. Every two hours take it out and mix the stuff around to combine and get nice and slushy. Do this two or three times. By this time tomorrow you should have a wonderful sorbet, patiently refreshing.