As mentioned on a number of occasions, my family likes to cook. My wife and daughters (and my late son) specifically like to bake. Now, I can made bread or biscuits from scratch, and have made any number of pies over the years, but – it’s that whole Ricardian comparative advantage/best use thing – I don’t usually do the Thanksgiving and Christmas baking, as I’m surrounded by better bakers.
That being said, there is a lot of prep work in pie, tort, and Christmas pudding making. That role has fallen largely to me.
Prep starts at Halloween. We avoid the giant hollow orange pumpkins sold specifically to become decorations, and instead make our jack-o-lanterns out of more tasty varieties. My job is to help with the carving and then, as soon as the last trick-or-treater is off courting insulin shock, to bake the pumpkins until soft. The next morning, after they’ve cooled, I prep the pumpkin flesh for freezing, filling little baggies with ready-to-go pumpkin pie filling ingredient.
My kids probably didn’t know pumpkin even came in cans until they left home. Which is as it should be.
Today, I’m making candied orange peel, a key ingredient in my wife’s Christmas pudding (with brandy butter sauce. And she sets it on fire right before serving. It rocks.) Once, years ago, I was sent to the store to get baking supplies, and candied orange peels were on the list – and Safeway had none. I said to myself, I said: how hard can it be to just make some? Ya know? So I found a recipe or 90 on line, and tried one that didn’t sound too bad. I mixed it up – we had candied grapefruit peel (excellent – one wants to, and often does, eat it like candy), candied lemon peel, and lime peel (meh.) in addition to candied orange peel.
Unfortunately, making candied citrus peel takes several hours, and you can’t really wander off, or you’ll get rock candy or orange peel soup. Make a few varieties, and you’ve burned much of a day, for one critical but minor ingredient. However, I’m now the candied peel guy in the house, it’s tradition, and far be it from me to buck tradition.
Then there are the apple pies. One must first peel a boatload of apples. This task also largely entrusted to me.
A mere 3 hours later, I now have the orange (and a small batch of mineola) peel drying.
Tomorrow morning, I’ll dust them with powdered sugar, pop them on ziplock bags and toss them in the freezer – good through next Easter’s pascha and kulich.