Slimo

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Don’t be afraid of the title.  I promise you that this is really good.

My grandparents used to have a home on the banks of the Ottawa River, and every summer that we could, we would go and visit, for a few weeks of swimming, sailing, and general adventuring.  And on especially hot days, my grandmother would make up a recipe that she had supposedly gotten from her own grandmother, a tasty citrus-y drink guaranteed to refresh.  She called it SLIMO.  To this day we are not sure why.

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My grandmother passed away in August, and at her memorial service, which was oriented towards her relationship with her grandchildren and great grandchildren, I thought it would be appropriate if we served her signature drink.

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It’s relatively easy to put together, but two of the ingredients are a little hard to find.  One is citric acid, which, if you can’t find it in your grocery store, you can get it in many Asian specialty shops, or natural food stores.  The other is tartaric acid (not to be confused with cream of tartar), which can be found (sometimes) in health food stores, but if you have a store nearby that sells beer brewing and wine making supplies, they are guaranteed to have some (or they’ll know where to get it).  Both of them look exactly like sugar, but if you put them in your mouth, be prepared for the sour!

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You need 5 oranges and 3 lemons, ones with a decent amount of rind and lots of juice inside them, so make sure they’re pretty fresh.

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Grate them to remove the rind.

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Then juice those suckers.

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I found that if I poured the juice through a strainer it got rid of the seeds and some of the pulp.

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Add to that 2oz citric acid (~60mL) and 1oz tartaric acid (~30mL).  A kitchen scale will help you with this.

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And 2lb granulated sugar (~1kg).  Yes, that’s a lot of sugar, about half of the 2kg bags you get at the grocery store ’round these parts.  But it’s necessary. Stir all that stuff together.

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In a large kettle or with a spout, boil up 2 quarts water (~2L).  Pour that over your rind, juice, sugar, and acid and stir until the sugar and acids are dissolved.

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You’ll find that the rinds with a lot of pith attached to them will float to the top and get all scummy, so I scooped them out with a small sieve.

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Allow that to cool in the fridge.  Sorry for the dimness of my photos here — despite this being a summery drink, the weekend I made it was dark and rainy.

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When you drink it, use a ratio of 1:2 slimo and water, so 1/3 of your glass is slimo, and the other 2/3 is water.  Adjust it to your own taste, of course.  Feel free to mix it with soda water, as well, or even add a splash of vodka for a more adult version of the beverage.

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Sip it and enjoy memories of summer!

Cranberry Orange Cookies

These cookies garnered the approval of Il Principe and his mother.  And the Pie.  And they were really easy.  Which might be why I adapted them from EasyCookies.com.  But I’m just guessing here. In changing the recipe, I left out the salt, as usual, and accidentally added twice the amount of butter I should have, which ended up giving the cookies a lovely crunch I think they needed.  I also added zest to boost the orange aspect of what would otherwise be a pretty plain cookie.

There is nothing more cheery than citrus in the winter, and my mother will tell you that any time you wave an orange at her at any point between November and April.  But she’s right.  Citrus is a remarkably happy-making thing.  Orange being the Pie’s favourite colour, I made these citrus-y cookies with all our citrus-y implements.

So first you want to preheat your oven to 375°F and line some baking sheets with parchment paper.

Next, gather yourself the juice and rind from 2 oranges and set that aside.  You should have about 1/2 cup orange juice and about 2 tablespoons rind to show for your efforts.   While you’re at making things to set aside, whisk together, in a measuring cup or small bowl, 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.  And, well, set that aside too.

In a large bowl, cream together 1 cup butter, softened, with 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 cup packed brown sugar

Add in 2 eggs.

Pour in your reserved juice and rind.  Mix ’em.

Slowly add your dry ingredients, mixing the whole while.

Stir in 2 cups dried cranberries.

It won’t look like you’ve produced a lot of dough, but trust me, this will make you a whole whack of cookies.  And I MEAN a WHOLE WHACK.  Like 6 or 7 dozen maybe?Drop the sticky dough in heaping teaspoons (not tablespoons, mind you, these cookies are meant to be small) onto the parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating your sheets halfway through, until lightly golden and firm on top.  Let the cookies sit on the sheets outside the oven for a little bit, then remove the crunchy wonders to a rack to cool completely.

If you end up having any left, you should store them in an airtight container so they don’t go stale.  I also froze some dough for later.  Because it’s so sticky, I couldn’t pre-form the cookies before freezing, so I will have to defrost the whole batch of dough before baking.  Alas.

Monolithic Date Squares

The Pie and I spent several long hot days in the kitchen, doing the prep-work for my brother’s wedding celebration.  One of the confections we produced were some rich, tall date squares.

Interesting fact for you: date squares are a Canadian invention.  I kid you not.  If you look up date squares in some of the older cookbooks you’ll find it under “matrimonial date squares”.  If anyone knows the reason for this, I’d love to hear it.

As a bit of a preparation for this, zest an orange.

While you’re at it get the juice from it as well.

And take 1/4 cup of hazelnuts and pulse them in a food processor until you have some lovely crumbs.

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Now you start with the filling.

In a saucepan, stir together 2 cups water with 1 package (375g) pitted dates, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, and the juice from your orange, about 4 tablespoons.  Let that stand for about 30 minutes.

Afterwards, bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and boil gently, stirring often, until it’s thickened.  This will take about ten minutes.  And when it bubbles it will more resemble swamp goo than anything else.  Let it cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 cups rolled oats, 1 1/4 cups flour, and 1 cup packed brown sugar.

Cut in 1 cup cold cubed butter.  Keep going until the mixture is in coarse crumbs.

Press half (or slightly more than half) the oat mixture evenly into an 8-inch (2L) square pan lined with parchment paper.

Spread the mixture with your date goo.

Add the hazelnuts to your remaining oat mixture and toss well.

Pile the remaining mixture on top of the date goo and press it down lightly.

Bake for about 45 minutes, until golden brown on top, and let it cool before cutting into squares.

If you keep it covered it will last for weeks.  You can also freeze the squares before baking, wrapped in aluminum foil.