Orange Liqueur In Progress
One of the things about being a mom and being an artist and being a partner and being a worker and all these other hats I have to wear in this modern gotta-get-it-done world is that I don't necessarily take time to take care of myself.
I do a lot of sacrificing. I do a lot of taking care of others. I do a lot of anxious, running to catch up. I do a lot of crashing, exhausted, feet up at night.
One of the things I'm trying to do is to remember to do things for myself. Things that are not just about crashing and watching tv anyway. Rather things I just do for fun, things that renew me, things that I'm not trying to find a way to turn into a business. Things that are not about money or responsibilities or work. I started reading The Giver, by Lois Lowry. That's one of those books I've heard about for years, and I'm finally getting around to it.
And I'm getting back into my margarita habit. For some reason, margaritas and summer just seem go together.
And to feed my margarita treat, I am making my own orange liqueur.
This is the first time I've ever attempted something like making my own liqueur before, although I've thought about it and always said I'd try. So I finally decided I would.
I was inspired by this recipe
, but of course, I had to put my own spin on it. It's very simple. It has only four ingredients. Vodka. Oranges. Water. Sugar. But it does take some time and patience in order for the oranges to infuse the vodka, and it is a two part recipe, first the orange vodka, then the orange simple syrup. I am not all that patient, so, that accounts for my small adjustments to the original recipe.
One bottle of vodka. I just used a fifth of cheap vodka. Since it is my first attempt at this, I didn't want to make too much or spend too much.
Organic sweet oranges. Organic because you're using the peels in this so you don't want them to have anything unsavory on them. I used navel oranges.
Clean and dry a good sized jar.
Slice oranges into fairly thick slices.
Pour vodka into jar.
Add as many orange slices as will fit and still be covered by vodka. Pack them in there. I used two very large oranges and there was no room left. If you have more vodka or smaller oranges it will take more.
Cover and let sit in a cool dark place for 2 to 3 weeks.
Strain through cheesecloth or mesh sieve into a bottle. Squeeze the remaining pulp/oranges to remove all the juice/vodka, add to bottle. (I used the sieve, but I think the cheesecloth is better, because you can just wrap up all the pulp and squeeze that out without the mess. I had to squeeze mine handful by handful. Messy.)
The original recipe said to let this sit for another 3 weeks. Like I said. Impatient. So on to the next step.
Simple Orange Syrup
One cup sugar
One cup water
The rind of one orange. Try to remove as much pith as you can and just use the orange part.
Peel the orange, trying to remove only the orange zest, without the white pith. I did not zest the orange, because I wanted to remove the peels later. Cult the peels into fairly large pieces. Put in a saucepan. Add one cup water and one cup sugar. Boil the water, sugar and orange peels until the sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally. Continue to simmer for a few minutes to infuse the orange into the sugar syrup. Let cool. Remove orange peels.
The original recipe just used plain simple syrup, but I saw an opportunity for another layer of orange flavor, and I took it.
Add orange syrup to the jar with the vodka. I had about 31/2 cups of orange vodka and started with 1/2 cup of syrup, tasting as I went until I liked it. All together, I added about a cup of orange syrup. It has a little bit of a floral flavor to it, not nearly as sweet as most orange liqueurs and a slight bite of bitterness from the peels. I am still considering adding more syrup, because I want my margaritas to have a bit of sweetness, but not too much. Oh these are the things that you really need to work through with trial and error. Perhaps I'll err on the side of another 1/4 cup of syrup, since I have no idea what I'll do with that last little bit of syrup.
The original recipe says it will get sweeter as it ages...
Stop the presses.
I just went to add the last little bit of syrup, and realized I had these lovely syrup soaked peels. So I...
ROLLED THEM IN SUGAR!!!!
HOLY COW. Candied orange peels. It's a quadruple bonus recipe day. Orange vodka, orange liqueur, orange simple syrup and candied orange peels. They're super yummy, too.
Plus, since I took the time out to make the candied orange peels, and S was putting some meat in a marinade and had sliced open a lime for it, I said, 'hey give me that other half of the lime, I should try a margarita with my new orange liqueur.' So that's what I did.
This margarita is absolutely fantastic. Note the pleased, slightly smug look on my face from a new recipe that not only works, but improves an old recipe
and is a new skill never attempted. Plus, I'm also supremely tickled about the candied orange peel brainstorm.
Plus, I haven't had lunch yet and it is mighty early for a margarita and even though I only sipped it for a taste test, I might just be a little tipsy.
Anyway, happy Friday, happy Memorial Day, and remember to do something for yourself, something that makes you feel good, not just for the moment, but about yourself.