The Spoils of an Asian Home-Visit

July 22, 2011

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I have to say:  It’s good to be a white girl with adoptive Asian parents.  They hook me up!

If you know us – or have read the “About” section – you know that I’m a crazy-curly-haired pale white girl and Carolyn is one of those beautiful, long-dark-haired, looks-good-no-matter-what Chinese girls.  Her parents – who immigrated to The States much longer ago then you would ever think – are like classic sitcom characters: fantastic, heavily-accented broken-English speakers with Chairman Mao haircuts and a penchant for tunic style clothing.  Seriously:  airlift them into any village back in China and it’ll look like they never left.  *smile*

A long time ago now, her parents graciously (or maybe just to razz Carolyn?) proclaimed me “Number One Daughter”.  Seemingly because of my good, submissive, daughterly, and god they hope one day: wifely, skills:  I cook, I clean, I sew, I’m deferential to my elders at all times….they love that!  And so, anytime that Carolyn goes back for a family visit, they send her back laden – yes positively laden – with things for me.

One time during a visit, they were driving down some rural road in Georgia and her mom spied some Ginkgo trees along the side of the road.  She made them stop, get out and gather bags and bags of the rather stinky nuts in the midday heat.  She then made Carolyn carry them back on the plane – stinking all the way-because she wanted me to have them and “Fresh Ginkgo hard to get and very ‘spensive’ (as she says the word.)  I want  Josie to have.”

One Christmas-time visit found Carolyn’s suitcase over the airline weight limit because they day she was leaving, her parents got up early to hit the farmer’s market and bought me a case of grapefruit *and* a case of oranges.  They wanted me to have fresh fruit in winter, they knew I liked grapefruit – and if they know I like something – watch out! *smile*) and  because “Citrus is good-for-you-healthy!” her mom argued, as she unpacked some of Carolyn’s clothes to make room for the fruit.  There was *no way* two cases of fruit was going to fit in our Manhattan fridge – so our Christmas tree made it to Three Kings Day and beyond with platters of citrus fruit underneath it.  It was quite a sight!  And prompted much conversation from visitors…I mean, how often do you see that in New York City?  And everyone who visited – and I do mean everyone – went home with a fruit or two…so Mom got her way and many, many more New Yorkers than usual enjoyed that good-for-you-healthy citrus that winter.

Carolyn’s last trip was no exception. I got all of my favorites:  Bean Sprouts, Pea Pods, Shanghai Bok Choy, etc.  Yes, of course we can get these things  here, but they always think they can get them cheaper, pick them out better, don’t trust that we’re going down to Chinatown everyday to buy the right ones….(and they’re right about that *smile*)…and so they send them along with my favorite Taiwanese Ramen packets and salty-sweet Japanese Rice Cakes. (Carolyn has learned to live off whatever clothes were left on previous visits, because she knows that her mother will toss them out of her suitcase to make room for the food.  I’ve always said Carolyn is smart.)

But there was a new item in amongst the usual:  A few bags of freshly picked kumquats. They were off visiting relatives the day before Carolyn was heading back…and lo and behold that relative had kumquat trees…so before anyone was allowed to sit down to lunch – they had to gather the ripe fruit into bags to send back to me:  “Citrus is good-for-you-healthy in summer, too –  You take them, Josie will want!”

And that I did, so Thank You adoptive-Asian-Mom! *smile*

Kumquats are the size of large olives  – a small beautiful orange-colored citrus fruit with an edible rind –  but they are very, very sour – think sour like lemons, not sweet like oranges.  Some people pucker up and eat them our of hand….but my favorite thing to do with them is to candy them.  The bitterness still comes through once they’ve been candied, but now with the sweetness to balance it out and make it much more enjoyable.

Candying the kumquats is a very easy to do and once made they will keep in jar in the fridge for a couple of months at least (I’ve always used mine all up by then).  They can be served as part of a cheese tray or course, paired with meats such as Duck or used in cocktails (admittedly my favorite way to use them.)

Candied Kumquats

4 cups of Kumquats
1 cup water
2 cups sugar

Wash the kumquats.  Cut eat kumquat into quarters.  Remove any easily-removable seeds, but leaving some in is just fine.  They’re edible, just like the rind and pulp.

Meanwhile, combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan.  Heat over high heat until it comes to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the kumquats and simmer for 12 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the kumquats to a glass jar(s). You want to leave room for some of the syrup in each container.

Continue to simmer the syrup on the stove for another 8-10 minutes to allow it to concentrate a bit further.

Pour the syrup over the kumquats.  Any syrup that is left over should also be saved and stored in a jar. (You’ll want this syrup for cocktails!)

Store in the refrigerator.

Filed Under: Appetizer/Snack, Cocktails, Dessert, Recipe, Sweet, Vegetarian-Friendly

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