I’ve been away a while. Well, we were planning this vacation-of-a-lifetime, a six-week holiday in another part of the world! How many people can manage that today! The preceding month was crazy at work; the blog had to take the backseat again. Vijay was at his desk till an hour before we were to leave for the airport. We didn’t even get the time to dig out winter woollies from the big trunk in the storeroom. I was going to arrive in the US with no fashionable warm clothes. The taxi arrived and V was still to shower and eat. Eventually, we did manage to zip-up the cases and leave for the airport in time. As long as we had money and passports, we didn’t need to worry.
The following six weeks turned out to be a vacation to remember. Friends and family shared generously their time and their homes and we got another peek at the amazing country that is the USA. How much of it I will be able to recount here I don’t know – it took me over a month and five posts to cover our 10 days in Ladakh last year! But I love to go back and re-read all the travel posts here. It is surprising how much we forget as time passes. The brain stores but foggy memories and none of the detail. I do want to remember this trip. I turned 50 last month and this vacation turned out to be quite the celebration! It wasn’t planned with that in mind though.
The next few posts are going to be about this vacation peppered with appropriate recipes, of course. There’s even a road trip through South-Western United States! Most of you said that you like reading the travelogues here, so come along with me on yet another journey filled with food and food-loving friends.
To get the spirits in place, here’s a recipe for calamondincello where I have replaced the lemons in a classic limoncello with calamondins to make this citrus, fragrant liqueur. I’ve had limoncello on my list for so long I can’t remember. This year I received a bounty of calamondins, also known as kalamansi limes. While they make great marmalade, amongst the best I have tasted, there is only so much marmalade one can eat. These limes are great as the sour-ingredient in salad dressings too. But, I wanted to savour them for longer and I thought why not use these instead of lemons and cross off one thing from that long list! Making calamondincello is hardly any effort and there is much more you can do with it than make cocktails (which is as good a use as any!).
calamondins, approximately 1 kg, washed and dried
1.2l of vodka (80-proof or whatever you can find)
1 to 2 cups sugar, or to taste
[You can try this recipe with other citrus fruits. With fruits such as lemons, limes, kumquats, or oranges, use only the peels.]
Cut the calamondins in half and put them in a jar big enough to hold the fruit and the alcohol. Fill the jar with vodka. Put it away in a dark corner in your kitchen to infuse. The longer you keep it the stronger the colour and flavour will be. Shake it every few days for the first week and then forget about it. I steeped mine for about four weeks.
When you are happy with the flavour, filter out the fruit. You need to measure the infusion. I lined my metal sieve with muslin and held it over a measuring cup. For every cup of infused vodka add half to one cup of simple syrup.* Combine the two, pour into bottles, cap and store. I refrigerated mine because I wasn’t sure how it would keep since I was using less sugar. Since I could spare only one glass bottle at the time, the remaining liqueur was stashed in the cupboard in the jar you see in the pictures. So far, 3 months on, it’s still fine.
* I used 1:1 (sugar to water) ratio to prepare the simple syrup and combined with twice the amount of infused vodka (1 cup simple syrup for 2 cups of infused vodka). Most liqueurs use equal quantities of the two but I didn’t want a very sweet liqueur. You may also reduce sweetness by making the simple syrup with a 1:2 (sugar to water) ratio.
Drink calamondincello as a dessert liqueur, use it in cocktails, or cook with it. It’s great to have their citrus fragrance around for the rest of the year.
Let’s raise a toast to fifty years of an ordinary life! Cheers! 🙂
PS: WordPress just informed me that today is also the blog anniversary! AMTP is 9! Cheers to that too!