kumquat marmalade + pistachio linzertorte

kumquat marmalade + pistachio linzertorte

We just had an alarm system installed out here in the woods, in the compound that I work at. It’s not what you may think. It’s not to deter burglars, although as it turns out it deters everyone, so, burglars included. The alarm system is set up to detect fires, high levels of hydrogen, low temperatures, and power outages.

This is all part of an elaborate scheme to bring solar power into the woods. It’s a delicate mix of inverters running off the batteries that are fueled by the solar cells, along with two different generators that serve our energy needs during daily peaks and energy-demanding activities such as welding.

Anyway, the system is now sort of functional, and it’s shaping up to be an awesome step forwards for this community in the middle of nowhere. But the most recent item of business, adding in an alarm system as a safeguard, has put everyone on edge since it went live last week. On one peaceful sunny evening last week, I was enjoying the nice weather when suddenly a cop car siren went off at a volume so loud that I jumped a good 2.5 inches out of my shoes. It would be prudent to note here that our compound is located hours away from any paved roads, and no cop cars would ever dream of venturing this far into the woods. To top it off, the noise sounded like it was coming from the lake.

Turns out it was the alarm system siren (pronounced sy-reen all distinguished-like by the electricians). They were choosing a ringtone.

kumquat marmalade + pistachio linzertorte

Since then, things have escalated. Another point of interest to note is that whenever we switch over to the generator, there is a 1-minute delay when we have no power. This happens several times a day, but is nothing out of the ordinary for us. However, the alarm system has been programmed, as I mentioned, to detect power outages. So now every time that we switch to the generators, the sy-reen goes off. I think that the system has developed some sort of evil brain, because weird things have been happening with the generators since the electricians’ visit last week. The power went out at least eight times yesterday. That means the loud-ass sy-reen went off at least eight times yesterday. The sy-reen has also been sounding during the middle of the night. In a measure of good faith, the electricians have limited the sy-reen‘s duration to a few minutes, down from the recommended 15 MINUTES. Thanks guys.

We have some electronic keypads that tell us what sort of alarm is sounding. Like last week, an alarm went off because there was low temperature in a small shed that has no water or power and is uninhabited. Good to know.

And this morning, I’m being told by the keypad that we are currently suffering from…. a fire.

kumquat marmalade

A couple weeks ago, I made this fire-colored kumquat marmalade. Someone sound the sy-reen please.

Did you ever eat those SOUR SOUR SOUR SUPERSOUR sweeeeet Warheads candies? Kumquats are like nature’s equivalent to Warheads, a definite mouth party. How I have never before eaten kumquats is beyond me. Now I’m popping them like a bad addiction, and I’m slipping a few to my loggers – “oh hey, you like citrus? here, try this!” I offer, before quickly taking a few steps back just in case.

The next logical step, aside from slathering my marmalade over every glutenous surface known to man, was to pair it with my perennial favorite nut, pistachios, combining the two into a delightful variation on a linzertorte.

kumquat marmalade + pistachio linzertorte

Kumquat Marmalade + Pistachio Linzertorte

Recipe adapted from Maida Heatter and Smitten Kitchen

Yield: One 9-inch round or 8-inch square torte, sooo…. 8 wedges or 16 bars.

For the Kumquat Marmalade:

I used David Lebovitz’s recipe for Kumquat Marmalade, and the only change I made was to use three Meyer lemons in place of the recommended 2 lemons. I couldn’t write the instructions any better than he did, so follow his. Make sure you start a day ahead of time, since the citrus needs to soak overnight.

For the Linzertorte:

Base and Lattice
2 1/2 c. pistachios
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
10 tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into chunks
Heaping 3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (I used a Meyer)

Make base: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 9-inch round layer cake pan or 8-inch square pan. Line the bottom of each with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit, then butter then paper.

In a food processor, process pistachios and 1/4 c. of flour (reserve remaining flour) until the nuts are finely ground but not pasty.

Place remaining 1 1/4 c. flour, cinnamon, and salt in a large mixing bowl. With a pastry blender, add the butter into the flour mixture until it forms crumbs. Mix in the sugar. In a small bowl, beat the egg and lemon zest until combined, then stir into flour mixture until well-mixed. Work the dough inside the bowl until a cohesive ball forms.

Divide dough into halves.

Place half the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan, and press evenly and firmly over the bottoms, flouring fingers if necessary. Press dough up the sides of the pan 1 1/2″.

Bake shell for 10-15 minutes, until it barely begins to color at the edges. Remove shell from oven and let cool slightly. Reduce oven to 325F.

While the shell bakes, roll remaining piece of dough between two pieces of waxed paper or parchment paper, until 1/4″- to 3/8″ in thickness or just a bit larger than the size of the pan. Transfer to freezer on a baking sheet until the dough is well-chilled, about 20 minutes.

Filling
3 tbsp panko or fine, dry breadcrumbs
1 heeeeaping c. kumquat marmalade

Make filling: Remove chilled dough from freezer.

Pulse panko or coarse dry breadcrumb in a food processor until a fine powder. Sprinkle panko or breadcrumbs over par-baked shell. If jam is not soft, stir it until it is, then spread over breadcrumbs.

Cut dough into 1/2″- 3/4″ strips, cutting through the bottom of the waxed paper at the same time if you want to make dough transfer simple (I didn’t do this). Lift each strip over the jam and reverse it onto the jam before peeling off the waxed paper. Arrange strips 1/2″ to 3/4″ apart, crisscrossing them (if desired, I didn’t do this either) on an angle to make a lattice top with diamond-shaped openings. Use leftover pieces to fill in any gaps between lattice-strips and tall sides of shells. Excess lengths can be added to the tall sides and gently pressed into place.

Topping
1 egg yolk
1 tsp water
Powdered sugar, for serving

Mix egg yolks and water. Brush it all over lattice top and border. Bake torte for 45 to 60 minutes, until crust is well-browned.

Remove from oven and place on cooling rack. Cool for ten to fifteen minutes in the pan, before loosening and removing. Allow to fully cool on a cooling rack. When cool, serve immediately, or let the linzertorte stand overnight (covered in foil) before serving for full flavor development. Decorate with powdered sugar before serving if desired.

beata

We caught Beata snoozing at a perfect 90 degree angle. Such a little right triangle. Be still my beating heart oh gosh.

She knows not the joys of marmalade and linzertorte, but she doesn’t need to, because she has fur and whiskers and ears and those darling legs.

cinnamon, orange + cranberry scones

truck

Not a week goes by that I don’t take a picture of my truck, or the lake outside my office. I hope to one day put this pastiche of seasons together, to observe the changes that occur so quickly around me that it’s almost as if the present is already the past, and the past never was. Like some advertisement for blas√© home furnishings or sneakers redressed in space-age textiles, the future is now.

Time slips past at an alarming rate, and yet I wonder why it should still alarm me, given that it is consistently – like clockwork (ahem) – fleeting. How can I slow down? How can I make the remaining weeks of my 26th year matter? Where can I find importance before I turn 30, 40, 60? How do I return to that bored-yet-enchanted feeling I found myself suffering from every summer while on break from school? Is it enough to find small things to appreciate during the day, such as an uncommon plant I am smitten with, or a particularly lovely sunset, or my cat’s needy meow as she rubs against my leg and then flops over onto her side? Nothing ever feels like enough, because time keeps flowing on, and I just want to be able to slow down and savor it.

How many before me have written these same words, and lamented these same regrets. I wonder if they have found a way to trick their minds out of worrying about worthless drivel. Perhaps they have taken a page from my favorite must-watch teen drama The Vampire Diaries and have simply turned off their humanity switch, thus cheating themselves of a life worth living.

This impetuous preamble is actually one way I’m trying to deal with time’s steady malicious pulse. Given my tendency towards wordiness, I’ve decided I would like to commit myself to writing on occasion. Writing while facing a screen works, but it seems a bit removed. Writing with a pen makes me feel anxious, given that I am left-handed and cannot go a single line without smudging my words or inking my palm. But recently, I found myself a typewriter that (once fixed) will become my go-to writing device. It was ensconced in a halo of spiderwebs, keeping the company of two other typewriters and several broken light bulbs, in the attic of my work office. When the humble typewriter was replaced, I can only assume the then-foresters must have reasoned that an apocalyptic day would surely come, at which point they could pull their dusty machines out of storage, and proclaim “A-ha! Didn’t I tell you those newfangled computer thingys were just a fad!?” They would have loved that.

Unfortunately for them, there has been no such apocalypse. And unfortunately for me, I slid down most of the attic steps avec typewriter, nearly causing apocalyptic pain in my spine as it crashed against each step. The universe really wanted to keep those typewriters in the attic, “just in case.”

typewriter

When I’m feeling introspective, chances are I’m also looking to surround myself with comforting things, such as my darling cat, the awesome pair of corduroy Silvers that I picked up at Marden’s yesterday for 9.99(!!!), or familiar recipes that always set me right.

I also tend to leaf through my piles of possessions.

It’s difficult to walk the fine line between needless hoarding and self-preservation, wouldn’t you agree? It’s my Mum’s and Dad’s birthdays this week, and I’m feeling extra sentimental. I’ll see them soon, but wish I could be there in person this week to wish them well.

cardsdad

My dad looks super sassy in this picture, and I love it. Bonus: cat fur photo backdrop.

This is one of those familiar recipes that I tend towards when looking for comfort food, and it’s actually one of the only things I’ve crafted since my days as a supposedly precocious, yet food-loathing child. I suppose that means I’ve been baking variations of this recipe for at least 15 years. I’ve just been working really hard to perfect it for you guys.

Not.

There are several schools of thought when it comes to scones, but this is how I like mine: moist, full of flavor, and nearly poofy. I don’t much care for dense, dry scones, so if that is what you’re looking to make, you’d do best with another recipe. Sorries.

scones

Cinnamon, Orange + Cranberry Scones

{Recipe adapted from some 90s kids cookbook put out by the American Heart Association}
Makes 8

++Ingredients:++

1 3/4 c flour
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 heaping tsp cinnamon
3 pinches allspice
Heaping 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c (1/2 stick) of butter
Zest of 1 orange or tangerine, plus 2 tsp juice
1/2 c buttermilk (or 1/2 c milk + 1 tsp vinegar)
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
2/3 c. dried cranberries, soaked 10 minutes in hot water, then drained
2 tbsp flour, for dusting
2 tsp sugar

++Directions:++

Heat oven to 425F.

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice and salt. In a saucepan, melt butter, and add in orange or tangerine zest and juice. Add butter mixture, as well as buttermilk, egg, vanilla, and cranberries, to flour mixture. Mix until combined. With well-floured hands, gather dough and knead into a rounded shape on a baking stone or sheet pan covered with parchment paper. Re-flour hands if needed. Press out dough until it is roughly 3/4″ in height, keeping the circular shape.

Run a pizza cutter across the dough to create 8 scone triangles. Sprinkle 2 tsp sugar across the top of the scones. Bake at 425F for 15-18 minutes, until evenly light golden on top. Remove from heat, let cool slightly, then use the pizza cutter again (or a knife) to cut the scones apart. Serve warm.

scones

raspberry + coconut cream sherbet

raspberry coconut sherbet

This melty¬†frozen treat suffers from¬†what one might call “lackofspringoutside-itis.”¬†It’s a very serious condition, often afflicting those who want nothing more than to eat ice cream every evening while tending to their garden plot, as they contemplate how sunburnt they will get the next day whilst wearing their skimpy summery top.

Alas, skimpy summery tops are but a figment of my imagination at this point. Temperatures are beginning to heat up, and spring is just around the corner, but we’re not quite there yet. In town, tulips are sprouting and crocuses are in bloom, but out here in the woods, the ground is still looking suspiciously white.

At least I’m not in the Midwest, where they’re getting pummeled with snowfall upon snowfall (still).

springpict0025pict0007

Oh my gosh, do I spot something…. alive?! I guess word on the street is that when these plants at the upper left¬†flower, which they are doing now, it means that darling little bearies are waking up from hibernation. Makes sense, given that I saw some bear tracks a couple weeks ago. Now I’m just waiting to come across these bears in the flesh – in the fur? –¬†scavenging in the ditches alongside the roads. Cute.

However, last year’s fertile fern¬†fronds are still a much more common sight than lively new growth. All in good time, I suppose. All in good time.

The upside to the slowly-melting snow is that I get to hike long exercisey distances during the day –¬†along roads that I will soon be able to drive. I’ve been getting lucky on occasion, finding an abandoned moose antler that I then get to hoist over my shoulders and carry like the world’s most monetarily-precious child. Bingo!

raspberry coconut sherbet

As you may glean from the Classifieds section slipped effortlessly underneath this heavenly bowl of sherbet, we have been looking for a new place to live. A desire to downsize has consumed us, with the end goal of saving up oodles of cash so that we can roll around in it, and also buy something really expensive, such as nice mountain bikes or some property. Or my real goal, world domination, AKA travel.

In the meantime, how about some sherbet of sorts, made with a can of coconut cream and¬†some raspberries? A squeeze of lemon juice, an extra jolt of sugar (if that’s your thing), and a couple egg whites, and this recipe is good to go. Just as quick as you can say “how long until we have to move again?”

Raspberry + Coconut Cream Sherbet {a recipe by myself}

++Ingredients:++

1 can coconut cream / cream of coconut (NOT coconut milk- check the Hispanic section of your grocery store)
6 oz frozen or fresh raspberries (I imagine most any other fruit would work equally well)
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Up to 2/3 c. sugar, as desired
Two egg whites
1/3 c. water
Dried coconut, for topping

++Directions:++

Honestly, I took the lazy route with this, simply letting everything churn about for ten minutes in my stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. The issue with this is that if your raspberries are frozen, the coconut cream will fail to dissolve into the raspberries and sugar. I didn’t have a problem with this, but if you do, process all ingredients together in a food processor.

If you have an issue with raw eggs, bring all ingredients except the eggs to a boil in a medium saucepan, then remove from heat and beat in the egg whites post-haste.

Once everything is combined to your liking, pour into a dish and freeze for at least four hours, preferably overnight. Serve topped with dried coconut.