January is always the time of year when most of us get caught up in the winter produce doldrums, fueled by the dearth of flavorful fruit and the overabundance of hard, starchy vegetables. But I find if I set my mind on citrus, I can carefully sidestep most bouts of Farmers Market Mourning. There are few things teeming with more promise of a sunnier tomorrow than sour-sweet piercing members of the rutaceae family, and I’ve got an archive full of margarita cookies, lemon bundts, orange chocolate chunks, grapefruit loaves and key lime tartlets that should assure you that you need not feel that you are missing out just because the peaches and berries have gone into hibernation.
If there is anything I am always on the prowl for–besides artichokes, cookie cutters and green anything–it is variations on classic recipes. It’s a sticky thing, of course, because the originals earned their prized state for being blissful the way they are. But I can’t help it–I see a twist, a curve, a departure, or in this case, once again, a grater and I can’t resist.
As much as I have said more often in the last couple months than you should ever let me get away with that I am so busy! and no time! the truth is that really, truly having no time for the things I really want to have time for terrifies me. I always wonder: are we really so busy or are we just busy being busy? Are there truly ‘not enough hours in the day’ or are we just not using the ones we have well enough? I feel if I allow myself to sorry can’t, too much going on right now I might fall down a slippery slope wherein I start saying that even before I have considered what I am busy with. Come on, surely you know the type.
You know, most people would look at a recipe that required more than a box of brown sugar, more than a teddy bear full of honey, two pounds of pecans and nine sticks of butter and say, oh hell no. Ina Garten is clearly trying to kill us. And while I thought that to myself many times, I really just saw this as a challenge. Could this be The Most Fattening Thing I Have Ever Made? I mean, this makes chocolate caramel cheesecake look like a Weight Watchers 2-point popsicle. I must make them.