dramatic reds and sour sweetness without a story


blood orange VI, originally uploaded by shaunaforce.

Normally, I am full of stories. Every day, I start my classes with this: “Stories? Anyone have stories?” With only a few seconds of prompting, the students start splaying out stories, of falling and unexpected discoveries. I love hearing about their mishaps and abusrdities. They feel heard, and they hear each other. It creates community. Also, it makes me laugh.

Stories connect us all. If we truly listen to each other’s stories, we cannot dismiss each other.

I have a thousand stories. I’ve lived a wacky life — no doubt about it. There are stories about making pie for Jerry Seinfeld, falling down a flight of stairs in the Times Square subway station, drinking champagne out of gold-rimmed glasses, hiking up a mountain in Alaska, acting in commercials in Los Angeles, running across the Piazza della Signoria during a lightning storm, and waking up in a tent on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. There have been impossible love affairs, stumbling inanities, and always, ridiculous absurdities. I have a story for every situation, it seems.

Of course, when it comes to food, there are always stories. Food is never simply the ingredients or the tastes. Food, for me, evokes fond memories, urgent conversations, hilarious connections, and — always — the people with whom I am eating. Every day, and certainly for every post I put up here, I have a story.

But not this one.

blood orange V

Last week, I bought a dozen blood oranges. A winter gift: smooth orange skin with a blush, vivid against the grey skies. Cut through to find dark red juice cells bulging out from the knife. Hold a slice up to the light and August-dahlia reds and oranges pulse outward. A flourish, a citrus surprise, a Dali surrealism. When I cut one open, the fruit bleeds sweet juice down my tongue.

I’ve been eating them for days, knowing I wanted to write about them here. But I didn’t have a story. I could have looked up the history, concocted a tale of eating them for the first time with friends in cold climates, or tried to remember the first time I ate oranges. But no — that all feels silly here. There’s no point in forcing a story. Sometimes, it feels good to simply appreciate.

Blood oranges. Yes.

Blood orange sorbet

blood orange sorbet

This recipe is remarkably similar to the Meyer lemon sorbet I posted here in December. There’s something wonderfully satisfying about a creamy citrus sorbet in the winter, the smooth coldness, the tart bite, the sting of acidic sweetness. I could make a hundred variations and still not be done eating.

I made this particular sorbet with an egg white, for an extra creaminess, but it would work just as well — or maybe even better — without it.

(Oh, and…somehow, this photograph of the sorbet came out looking a little naughty, like one of those Victorian picture books where they’d have cut-out holes where one should put the knuckles to make a saucy image. I didn’t intend it — the light dictated the angle — but I have to admit that I enjoy it now.)

one and one-half cup granulated sugar
two cups water
one cup blood orange juice
one egg white

Beat the egg white in a stand mixer until it is frothy. While you are letting it beat, boil the water and sugar together to make a simple syrup. Let the syrup boil for one minute, then slowly drizzle it into the frothy egg white.
Allow the mixture to stop steaming, cooling off just a bit.
Drizzle in the blood orange juice. Stir until just mixed.

Chill this frothy pink liquid completely in the refrigerator (at least one hour).

Put the chilled liquid in your ice cream maker and let it run for about fifteen to twenty minutes, or until it is forming a thick, frosty consistency. If you take it out at this point, before it’s completely hard, it seems to make the taste all the sharper. Transfer the sorbet into a freezer-safe dish and freeze it to desired hardness. (I like to freeze it overnight.)

Appreciate this, fully, by slowly savoring it, from the spoon to your tongue.

12 comments on “dramatic reds and sour sweetness without a story

  1. tarynkay

    mmmm… all winter we’ve been eating blood oranges with rosemary infused honey and drinking blood orange mimosas. i’ll have to try this, too.

  2. blurgirl

    _Yes_ blood oranges! Like sunlit leaves, I secretly consider slices of this fruit “nature’s stained glass;” their beauty is striking. Wonderful post.

    I also want to tell you about a decidedly adventurous gastronomic experience I had at a b&b this weekend: eggs benedict prepared with, but not limited to, the following ingredients: green tea, avocado, a powdered Hollandaise sauce made sauce-y with the addition of milk, and tuna fish. It was edible, and somewhat tasty, but not something I’d ever seek out. I won’t even go into this woman’s pastries. Our host said she never uses the same ingredients twice when she cooks; I believe her.

  3. Ashlee

    Shauna–

    I’ve enjoyed your site for several months. I fully appreciate your provocative blood orange sorbet photo. I just love the fact that food can be caught in such a way to make it seem intimate, sexy, and so inviting. I only wish to improve my photography to resemble such a state.
    Cheers

  4. Melissa

    Gorgeous pictures Shauna! I too find blood oranges undeniably sexy, so it’s no surprise that one of your pictures came out looking a little risqué! As for not having a story to tell, I too sometimes have something I want to share just because it’s good. And really, why shouldn’t we?

  5. Alison

    HI Shauna!
    Wanted to thank you finally for all the joy you have been giving me over the past few months I have been reading your blog. I was diagnosed with celiac disease about the same time you were. You have helped me to see my disease as a blessing. Thank you!
    Also, thank you for the great recipes. I made the banana bread with teff this weekend. It makes a great peanut butter and banana sandwich!

  6. Shauna

    Tarynkay:

    Okay, that rosemary-infused honey on blood oranges sounds fantastic! I must try that one next.

    Blurgirl:

    You win. That is the most disgusting set of ingredients assembled together that I’ve heard of in a long time! Oh, my dear, how did your survive it?

    Ashlee:

    Thank you. I agree — food can be wonderfully sexy! And just keep taking the photographs. After you have taken hundreds, it starts to grow easier.

    Melissa:

    Thank you for coming by, my dear. I feel like most of what we are doing on food blogs is simply saying, “Ooh, this was good. Would you like some?” We may put it in prettier language than that most of the time, but it’s still connecting with enthusiasm at heart.

    Alison:

    I’m so glad that the blog has been helping you to feel better about having celiac disease. There are some people who will never understand how hard this can be, or how much joy it can give us to find food that keeps us well. But we understand. And the teff bread for peanut butter and jelly? Now that’s innovation!

    Cyndi:

    Thanks for passing this onto your sister! I hope that she enjoys this too. I’m always happy to see you stop by. Let me know how the recipes work. And the meme? Oh, I can’t promise anything, but I’ll try!

  7. Katy

    Yum to that sorbet, only wish I had a bigger freeze to fit it in! Never seen a blood orange in argentina but as soon as I get to Buenos Aires I will pick some up to make this. Too yum, probably great in grapefruit as well! Mmm

  8. pmm

    I was diagnosed with celiac disease in October and have been struggling to find something other than rice cakes with peanut butter to eat! I enjoy your pictures and your prose — I wasn’t sure what kind of site I had found when I saw the blood orange sorbet picture, but then I blinked and focused…who’d have thought sorbet could be provocative? Keep up the enjoyable site.

  9. Karen

    Shauna,

    A co-worker intorduced me to your website when I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance.…..lab tests say no on celiac.….….my stomach says otherwise. I have been reading your blog for some time now but started from the beginning and am reading them in chronological order.

    I decided I had to post after seeing the photo of the blood orange sorbet. You are right.….it IS naughty.……a glisteningly intimate naughty photo! I emailed the photo to my husband to see if he could figure out what it was. I’ll see his response when I get home today.…it should be interesting.

    Anyway.……I love reading your blog and am looking forward to catching up to more recent ones.

  10. Karen

    PS — I pre-ordered your book on amazon.com 2 weeks ago! I’m sure I’ll read all about it in new posts as I get to them but I can’t wait to get it!