Friday, February 10, 2012

Ruby Meyer Marmalade

Like many  people, I've got a lot of my plate right now. From being in the honey bee lab to volunteering at the wildlife rehabilitation center to marine invertebrate lab to being a TA to teaching Sunday school at church. They are all great experiences and I'm blessed to have them. I just wish I didn't have to do them all at once. 

Sometimes I feel like I'm a pinball stuck bouncing between class, lab and church. I have more post it notes on my desk top than I can count. I get stuck in this pattern of do, do, do and I loose sight of what's most important in my life: my relationships my family, my friends and most importantly, my God. These past couple weeks, I've made it an effort to make more time with God and my outlook on life has been so much better. Instead of asking, why am I so busy and stressed all the time? God has made me realize how blessed I truly am. God has given me these great opportunities and blessed me with such a great community of friends. 

One weekend, my best friend from high school and I were able to catch up as well as do what we do best: take pictures and cook. Nick is an amazing photographer; he takes the mundane, every day activities and puts life, emotion, and color into them. He's also obsessed with food like I am. We have a deal, I'll cook something, he takes pictures and we both eat. It's a win, win situation. Since so many kinds of citrus are in season now, we decided on a meyer lemon and ruby grapefruit marmalade. 

The Ingredients
3 ruby grapefruits
3 meyer lemons
5 cups of sugar
pinch of salt

The Method
Bring a large pot of water to boil and place 2 lemons and 2 grapefruit in the pot. Place a plate or smaller lid on the citrus to submerge them. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about an hour or until the lemons are soft and pliable. Remove the lemons and place in a bowl. Then cook the grapefruit for another 45 minutes or until the grapefruit are done. Remove and place in the same bowl as the lemons.

 Let the citrus cool to room temperature or place in the refrigerator overnight. Place a plate into the freezer; this will be used to test if the marmalade has set.

Cut each cooked citrus fruit in half. Place a fine strainer over a large bowl and use a spoon to scrape the pulp into the strainer while reserving the rinds. 

Squeeze the pulp through the strainer to extract all the juice.

 Once all the juice is in the bowl, toss the dry pulp. 

Thinly slice the rinds of 1 grapefruit and 1 lemon into thin long ribbons. 

Finely dice the other lemon and grapefruit rinds. 

I found that slicing all the rinds was overwhelming so that's why I choose to dice half. 

It gives you a great mix of textures in the final marmalade. The rind contains pectin which causes the marmalade to set.

Take the raw grapefruit and cut the top and bottom off so the flesh is exposed. Then make longitudinal cuts to remove the rest of the skin. 

Hold the fruit over the juice bowl and then carefully cut on each side of the membrane to remove the segments. This will add fresh pulp into the final spread.

Juice the raw lemon into the juice bowl. Then place the juices, grapefruit segments, chopped rinds, salt and sugar into a large pot. It may seem like too much sugar but its needed to set up the marmalade and to counteract the bitterness of the grapefruit. 

Turn the heat to medium and stir with a wooden spoon. Continue to boil until it reaches 220-222 degrees (use a candy thermometer if you have one). Be careful, this is above the boiling point of water and can burn you. Take out the frozen plate and place a few drops of marmalade on the plate. Let it set for about 30 seconds and see if it has gelled so it no longer runs. If it hasn't, continue to cook longer. 

Now you can preserve the marmalade with the jars, heat, processing, etc. If you properly preserve the marmalade, it will last about a year in the pantry. 

Alternatively, you can pour them into jars like I did and it will keep for a few weeks in the fridge. 

This Ruby Meyer marmalade has strong flavors of the tart lemon and bitter grapefruit. Spread it on your bread in the mornings or eat it with some fresh goat cheese on a cracker. 

Making this marmalade with Nick helped me to find joy in the simple things in life. I hope that you can take a break out of your busy life to make this with some friends or family. You won't be sorry, I promise. 

Recipe by Spencer Huey

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

[End of] Summer Green Bean Salad

Technically it's still summer for me, I don't have classes until Thursday. These past few weeks I've been trying to soak up all the summer I could down here in San Diego. Some foreign friends (Dave, Lavinia, and Felicity) flew over from England and we were able to catch up with them. I can't believe exactly one year ago I was abroad, getting used to English customs like weighing people in stones, drinking so much tea that it began to run through my veins and being confused when people asked where the bin was. [it's the garbage].
My roommate, Kevin, and I also have done a few projects in our new room. About a month ago we moved into a 1920's house about two blocks from Windansea beach. Rough life. We made a tree made out of twine and a light out of an old wicker birdcage.
I spent a good month at home in the Bay area with family and friends. I went to the farmer's market a lot with my dad and when I saw all the heirloom tomatoes, fresh corn, basil and green beans this dish came together in my head. Some friends came over that night and we ate the salad for dinner. Thanks to the amazing Christine Chia for taking these pictures. It's perfect side for a summer barbecue. I know that it's late to be posting about a summer salad but it's summer weather year round in San Diego. Because salads only have a few ingredients, it's important to get fresh, quality ingredients. Use what's in season and treat the ingredients with respect; prepare them simply to let their flavors shine through

The Ingredients
1.5 lbs green beans
2 lbs cherry tomatoes
5 ears of corn
3/4 cup feta
3/4 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup basil leaves
1/3 cup olive oil
3 lemons
salt and pepper

The Method
Roast the hazelnuts in a small pan over medium heat to bring out the flavors. Cool and then roughly chop them.
Trim the stem ends off the green beans and bring a large pot of water to the boil.
Shuck the corn.
Blanch the beans for 1 min in the salted boiling water.
After 30 seconds have passed, blanch the corn for the remaining 20 seconds. Drain the beans and corn and set in a colander to drain.Hold the corn and then shave the kernels off. Use the back of the knife to scrape the ear to get all the sweetness.
Half the tomatoes with a sharp knife.
Create the dressing by juicing the lemons,
seasoning with salt and pepper and whisking in the olive oil.

Time to assemble. Toss the beans in the dressing, add the corn and tomatoes. Then sprinkle on the feta cheese, hazelnuts and tear the basil leaves before adding to salad.
Toss to coat and serve.
This salad is refreshing, light and so simple to make. It takes my favorite summer flavors and combines them all in one super-dish. Here's to this past summer! Now, bring on the fall flavors of pears, persimmons, and acorn squash. Oh, and it's almost red Starbucks cup season.

Recipe by Spencer Huey

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Chocolate Dessert Waffles

What a summer it's been! I spent the first four weeks of my summer working at Hume Lake Christian Camps. I went to Hume Lake as a camper in high school and it was always the highlight of my summer. It was a special place where God taught me so much about his character and love for us. Because it was such a life changing experience for me, I wanted to give back and help to create similar experiences for other students. Hume Lake sits right in the Sequoia National Forest so it's complete with forests, a lake, and the ever present Christmas tree smell. I worked at Hume San Diego which is the camp's off campus site. We set up on Point Loma Nazarene University's campus which has a constant view of the ocean and the sound of waves crashing on the cliffs. Beach or Mountains? Now that's a hard choice to make.

Last year, I worked as activities and recreation staff. We would run organized rec games and take students to the beach to surf, bike, kayak and swim. This year, I'm a lead counselor. Our primary function is to be a resource for the youth pastors and counselors. We want to take care of all the logistics so that they can be there for their students. It's kinda like being an RA on a floor of campers. It's so great to go around and talk with the students about what God has been teaching them. It brings me back to when I was there age and trying to figure out what it means to seek after God and his will in my life. I really enjoy being a lead and developing these friendships with churches and students. Having beach duty isn't so bad either.
Our western-style theme, All In, takes a look at the lives of David and Saul. It examines what it means to be all in for Christ and follow after God's heart, regardless of the circumstances. Saul often made decisions on his own without seeking God's help. He was looking victory, glory and approval from others which resulted in failure, pride, and jealousy. He was rejected as king because he did not follow after God's will. Conversely, David despite his flaws and sins went to God for advice and wisdom; he was a man after God's own heart. Despite the odds, he knew that God had to be trusted no matter the circumstance. Our theme verse is from Psalm 40.8 "I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart." Through this theme, students, counselors and staff alike will learn to seek after Christ, emulate his character and strive to follow after God's own heart.

It was such a life giving and filling experience for me. I enjoyed getting to know students and youth pastors, praying with them and finding out how their ministries are going. I loved our staff which became a family for four short weeks. Most importantly, God taught me so much about Himself and I gained a better relationship with Him over the four weeks.
So how does this relate to chocolate dessert waffles? It doesn't. However, Christ and seeing Him transform lives (including my own) is the most important things to me. How can I not share what God did this summer at Hume SD? Every single person in this world has the shared desire to be filled. Food (like chocolate waffles) satisfies the physical needs of hunger for a time. That's why we keep eating and eating and eating. But Christ and His love over-fills the empty place in our human hearts for an eternity. We can be ever learning about his character and trying to be more like Him in our everyday lives.
The Ingredients
2 cups AP flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 cups milk
6 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs, separated

The Method
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder.
In another bowl or pyrex, whisk together the wet ingredients: 2 cups milk, melted butter, egg yolks, vanilla extract and sugar.
Am I missing something but isn't sugar dry? Technically yeah it's dry but in baking sugar is mixed with the wet ingredients so that it will dissolve faster.
Mix the wet into the dry. This is the general rule of thumb because the heavier "wet ingredients" will want go to the bottom and the lighter "dry ingredients" will want to go to
the top. Mixing the wet into the dry will help it to combine faster.
In yet another bowl, whisk the egg whites until they reach medium peaks.
To test for medium peaks, dip the whisk into the egg whites and hold it up. There should be a peak in which the top part of the peak curves down. Stiff peaks means the peak will stick straight up.
Using a spatula, fold in one third of the egg whites making the batter lighter. Incorporating the egg whites in two steps will decrease the amount of bubbles popped - lighter, fluffier waffles.
Then once those are incorportated, fold in the remaining two thirds.
Heat up your waffle iron, spray or wipe with oil so that it won't stick and laddle in some batter. When the waffle is done, take it out and dress it up with french vanilla ice cream and strawberries. The hot fluffy waffle contrasts the cold creamy ice cream.
Dessert of champions.

Recipe by Spencer Huey

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Lime Bars

The other day our friends, Sholeh and Elena came over to make some dessert and to hang out. Whenever we hang out together, there is usually constant laughter about the most random things. They are amazing people.
Sholeh is not only a great friend but also an amazing photographer. She took all the pictures so I could concentrate on dessert, thanks Sho. Elena said she was "so into citrusy sweets" and the first thing that came to my mind was lemon bars. Since we had one lemon and twenty limes, I decided to make lime bars instead. In my opinion, limes are the zestier cousin of lemons, I think they pack more of a punch.
When I think of lemons, classic American foods like lemonade, lemon meringue pie, and the like come to mind. However limes in my mind become the condiment to savory ethnic foods like carne asada street tacos, and pho. There's nothing wrong with that but besides key lime pie and lime jello, was there any other desserts that put limes at the forefront? I wanted to change that and thus we made lime bars.
The Ingredients
For the crust:
2 cups AP flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 sticks of butter, melted
pinch of salt
For the filling:
6 eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup AP flour
1 cup lime juice (about 10-12 limes)
zest of two limes
pinch of salt

The Method
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine all the crust ingredients: flour, powdered sugar, butter and salt. Mix with your favorite spatula to combine.
Empty the crust dough into a greased 9 x 13 inch pan. Using your fingers, press the dough down to form an even layer.
Place in the oven and bake for 15-17 minutes until the crust just starts to brown on the edges.
Meanwhile, whisk the custard filling ingredients together in a bowl: eggs, sugar, flour, lime juice, lime zest, and salt.
The lime zest has the essential oils of the lime and this will give your final bars two dimensions of lime flavor. The salt helps to bring out the lime flavor and cuts the strong acid of the juice. This microplane is one of my favorite tools in my kitchen. Besides zesting, it can grate fine ribbons of cheese, grate spices like nutmeg, mince garlic and ginger and a ton of other things that I can't think of right now...invest in one, you'll be happy you did.
One cup of juice? That's a whole lot! I know, I know. Trust me though it will yield a much more flavorful bar than those squares of yellow sugar found elsewhere.
Add the juice to the rest of the ingredients and let's continue. I'm hungry.
By the time the filling mixture is done, the crust should just becoming out of the oven. Carefully pour the custard filling over the hot crust and quickly return to the oven for another 20-22 minutes until the custard is set. No wobbles.
Now is the time to practice the fruit of the Spirit called patience. Let the lime bars cool for about 3o minutes. This allows the custard to set and will make cutting much easier, I promise.
Your patience will be rewarded. Cut into squares with a knife and dust with powdered sugar - its traditional.
The huge problem I have with lemon bars is that that are usually way to sweet with little lemon flavor. This recipe cuts the sugar and ups the lime. This recipe can easily be made into lemon bars. Just replace the lime juice with lemon juice (about 5 lemons or so) and use the zest of one lemon. I hope that you enjoy these lime or lemon bars as much as Elena and Sholeh did. These lime bars require only a few ingredients, I bet you have all of them right now. They super simple to make and are always a crowd pleaser.

Recipe by Spencer Huey