I find it fascinating how certain smells take me places from long ago. It never fails that when I get a whiff of tangerines, my mind goes immediately to Christmas mornings of my youth, when I ate these citrus fruits after looting my stocking that hung along a stair rail in my childhood home.
They were a big treat for us kids and we only got them during the holiday season, and always in our Christmas stocking. (We were told Santa brought them special from the North Pole.) But we also loved the fact that we could peel them easily and in particular that they provided the perfect ammunition for some fine seed spitting contests between my siblings and myself on Christmas mornings.
Seems like we always found a container handy and then we would sit on the couch trying to get a “bull’s-eye.” We would hoot with joy when one of these minute missiles would land in the can, so much so that Mom would come in and confiscate our “target.” Then she would stand over us as we picked up all the little seeds that went off kilter while chewing us out about our bad manners.
I always have a supply of tangerines this time of year and I eat them in great quantities. In fact, I often keep a bowl of them on my counter, and that’s what the neighbor kid was eyeing up when he came over to visit a few days ago. “You can have one,” I told him, and as he settled down for the peel, I told him about the seed spitting contests of my youth. He looked at me as if I were daft. “How far could you spit one?” he finally asked. I had never given this much thought, as we were always going for accuracy rather than distance and admitted I didn’t know.
He thought this over, but I knew the wheels of a youthful brain were spinning, especially when he took a section of the fruit and held it up to the light. Then he slowly ate it and I could tell he was taking great care to separate the fruit from the seed.
It seems like I always get myself into these kinds of situations and I immediately went into the same speech my mother gave us when she caught us spitting tangerine seeds into a can. “It’s bad manners to spit seeds,” I told the boy. “It’s rude.” Then I handed him a paper towel to take care of the ammo that I could see was accumulating.
However, his question did stick in my mind-how far could I spit one? And so, after he left, I did go out onto my deck to check out my old form and finesse. Let’s just say I haven’t lost my touch.
Tangerine Cabbage Salad
1/2 medium head cabbage, cut in long thin shreds (about 5 cups)
3 tangerines, peeled, segmented, cut in half and seeded
1/3 cup raisins
3 Tbs. chopped nuts
3 Tbs. vegetable oil
1/2 tangerine, zested
1 tangerine, juiced (1/4 cup)
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 Tbs. honey
1 Tbs. toasted sesame seeds (optional)
To make the dressing, take a jar with a lid and combine oil, tangerine zest and juice, lemon juice, honey and sesame seed. Mix well. In a large bowl, combine cabbage, tangerines, raisins and salad dressing, chill briefly. Add chopped nuts when ready to serve
1 lb. chicken tenderloins
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. pepper
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 tsp. grated ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 shallot, minced
4 Tbs. honey
1/4 cup Thai chili sauce
3 Tbs. chopped cilantro
Mix flour with salt and pepper. Coat chicken tenders in seasoned flour mixture, shaking off excess.
Combine ginger, garlic, shallot, honey, juice and the zest of three tangerines, chili sauce and cilantro in bowl and reserve. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken tenders to skillet and cook until browned, about two to three minutes on each side. Pour reserved sauce mixture over browned chicken tenders and stir gently to heat through. Cover skillet and simmer for about five minutes, until chicken tenders are firm and cooked through. Before serving, peel and segment remaining two tangerines, and gently stir in tangerine segments.