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!
Check out these posts for limoncello recipes:
How to make limoncello from the Kitchen
How to make homemade limoncello from The Italian Dish.
14 thoughts on “Toasting a Half Century”
Congrats Anita and belated birthday wishes. About the ordinary life I don’t know but the post is extraordinary and I look forward to reading about your travels in US. Wish I had known your plans , we would have loved to have you over at our home in US. Next time eh!!!! Congratulations again.
Thank you, Rameshwari. It is great to have the ordinary life that most people have – a family, a career, your own home, be a citizen of a free country, so on and so forth.
Where in the US are you? Next time I will announce here before finalising the plans, and you do the same for any future India visits!
We are in New Jersey…you are right, we do take the small everyday things in life for granted and sometimes must stop and take time to appreciate the little mundane things. well I do hope we get to meet soon😀 Looking forward to reading about your travels soon.
Next time I will be sure to plan some additional days for NJ!
Happy 50th..and many more to come along with wonderful posts. I shd have known you are here. We live near Albany, NY and I am sure you went to buffalo for the falls. We could have met. Next time may be.
Thank you, Pea Kay.
My Instagram was a clue! But we were in NY just for a day on our way out of the US. Will plan better next time.
Happy 50th all over again, Anita!
Why didn’t you bring me any of this liqueur?!
Thanks, and it’s finally over – the celebration – I think.
I should’ve since you do like after-dinner liqueurs, and I had lots of baggage allowance. Forgive the oversight. I’ll make more next year in case you don’t visit before that.
You are no ordinary person living an ordinary life. You are inspiring to say the very least… I am only 15 years behind you and your blog has reignited my passion for so many things i had forgotten about myself in my corporate rat race…
Thank you for being who you are…
The truth is we all love our ordinary lives, or ought to. There is much to be said for having your own home and family, to sit in your kitchen – drinking your morning cup of tea in silence. This city is not very silent though, I might add; I envy those of you who live in smaller cities, especially in less populous countries.
Balance is a good thing in life. This blog helps me too in doing just that. When I write things down, I realise the imporance of the routine and mundane myself! I was sharing my lunch with my colleagues at college the other day. I had cooked a Kashmiri curry for myself the previous night because I didn’t care much for the sprouted moth and green beans which TH loves. My friend was happy to note that I would do that for myself. And I realised that it is a good thing I do – think about what I want to eat as much as I do about the rest of my family! Such an ordinary thing to do, yet maybe not.
Ofcourse not yours is not an ordinary life! You are an architect and you will leave a stamp on this soil for long to come and through your students too, plus this blog. I think this recipe will be helpful to impress the beau sometime soon when calamodins are in season.
I have followed your trip thru pics now looking fwd to the stories. Happy birthday once again and happy anniversary A mad tea party! Lots of love.
Thanks, Anjali. It is the ordinary that is actually special, or as someone said, “nothing is ordinary!” The first installment has been posted!
Such a lovely colour! And I bet it’s delicious. As plentiful as the calamondin is there, it is scarce here. I have a small, young tree and finally got a bowlful of fruit last year which I simply snacked upon as they became ripe. This year only a few blosssoms, and I don’t think any them conceived “children”. Maybe they fruit most-heavily every other year? Either way, happy 50th year to you- and a fine anniversary nod too- look forward to the future installments in this upcoming travelogue- cheers!
Aren’t they too sour for a snack! We seem to have them almost year round here! Thanks for the birthday wishes!
Wish you a very Happy Birthday and 9th blog birthday. Delurking here…learnt so much of my cooking from this blog.
Thanks for reading and the birthday wishes, Karishma!
Belated Happy 50th birthday, Anita!
Wishing you a very Happy 50th birthday.
Celebrating your wonderful ordinary life.
As you said having your own home, your work, being a citizen of a free country is so much to be grateful for in today’s times when we move from one crisis to another.
Sometimes feels so fleeting you want to hold on to it strongly or it might slip away.
You are your your blog are this sea of calm in an insane world.
All power to you and your ordinariness.
It is fleeting! I cannot believe so much time has gone by! May the ordinary good times continue for all of us!
Thanks for your wishes!
Happy 50 th and many many happy returns. Thank you for giving me many hours of glorious reading,wonderful recipes, a helping hand in adopting mustard oil(!) and so much more. Can’t wait to hear about your travel. Keep writing won’t you?😀
Thanks for reading what I put down here, Poornima. And for sticking with the infrequent postings! 🙂
Happy Happy birthday Anita! I am so glad I have gotten to know you (a little!) through this blog and our short exchanges. Thank you also for the recipe. A friend’s garden is full of them, and I am going to ask her if she will share a few with me to make what sounds like a delicious thing 🙂
Of course, the gardens at IIT should have lots of this fruit! Very few people cook with these so I’m sure your friend will be happy to share her bounty. We have to try and meet up for our crafting group!
Belated Happy Birthday and blog birthday, Anita!! So many great milestones. I always enjoy your travelogues. Time flies so fast (like the cliche goes) that recording it here is a great way of slowing it down and re-savoring it. I must get on that as well. The last couple of years are a blur to me..lol.
I’d better write it down quick – I’m already forgetting some of the details!
If it’s written down then you can go back and revisit the time! Do it, I say!