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Monday, December 14, 2009

Countdown to Christmas with Skhye Moncrief


Hello and welcome to Day 14 of my Countdown to Christmas Blog! Today’s featured guest is Skhye Moncrief and she’s in the kitchen with Oliver. Here’s Skhye to share her secret recipe with us. Enjoy!

It's common knowledge that I'm certifiably geek. My affinity for information acquisition
spans in many directions, including that of the history of Christmas. Ten to 20 years ago, I began recording everything on TV ranging from travel shows to cooking. It's true. And my husband reads the Sunday comics. So, he cut the one out about the woman telling her husband (prostrate on the couch watching the boob tube beside his endless stacks of VHS tapes) that he would never live long enough to watch all the things he recorded. That small vignette of life at our home hung on our fridge for an eternity.

Well, I've watched all of my documentaries. :) When I was pregnant, we bought a DVD burner and I converted 550 hours of recorded tidbits to DVD from VHS. Let's just say reclaiming space summarizes the process. And it set me off on a whirlwind of writing all the new stories that came to me... Of course, I've recorded more since!

Anyway, Sharon's sworn Oliver would don one of those g-string butler outfits and strap on an apron to help me out today. I'm going to teach you about the origins of those orange slice candies (gum-drop texture slice shapes coated in powdered sugar).

This is not the moister semi-circle slices in various flavors... No. This is the kind my father-in-law ate when he was a kid back when penny candy was too expensive to purchase during the Great Depression. Anyway, I acquired this recipe during a documentary on colonial Christmas. Yep. Thank goodness I recorded that show!

Aside from saving the long curling peels from apples to use for cooking when food was scarce during winter, colonials faced an even greater challenge--vitamin C deficiency. What do we associate with that lovely affliction? Scurvy. WIKKED GRAPHIX

Revolutionary wars and European wars drove the need to fight scurvy with lime/lemon treatment on naval vessels. Let's face it. Drinking stagnant water and munching on protein-rich (bug-infested) crackers was the life of a sailor. UGH. Sorry. No matter how long I study anthropology I never can find myself fantasizing about munching on live bugs. Add dead bugs to that list please. I'm just not into ingesting things I never defined as food. Personal taboo, I know! Shoot me. But when facing bleeding gums and ulcers, I say eat orange peel. And that's just what the colonials did whether they intended to or not. The essential oils of citrus fruits are in the peel. Add the sugar content and vitamin C, and you've hit paydirt. Citrus was imported from overseas. It was seasonal. And it rotted. Using the rind of citrus fruit was a way to extend the use of the fruit through making something more easily stored.

You want to start with 1-2 cups of citrus rind (preferrably orange for this recipe).
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
cinnamon if you like it
How to prepare rind:

Buy a 3-5 pound bag. Peel the rind from the fruit with a potato peeler. Be careful NOT to lift the soft white bitter pith with the rind. If the pith comes off with the rind, you can boil some water in a pot with the rinds, checking the rinds frequently to see if the pith scraps off. Do not boil the rind very long. You'll cook the essential oils out of it. Remove the pith-free rind from the water ASAP. This is where your citrus flavor and odor come from! Eat the fruit you've peeled too. Of course, colonials would have eaten the fruit or cooked something with it afterward. Set prepared rind

Mix one cup of water and 2 cups of granulated sugar in a skillet over medium heat. You can add a teaspoon cinnamon if you like cinnamon. Once the sugar has melted, add the rind and cook the liquid down the water until it's a thick syrup, always watching and stirring on occasion. You want the rinds to became translucent a bit and to be coated with syrup. Lower the heat to low or simmer. The syrup will eventually begin to granulate again. That's when this process ends. So, keep stirring, watching, and waiting for the syrup to almost disappear. You're "preserving" the rind. After the liquid seems almost evaporated, you spoon the rinds onto wax paper or foil. You
don't want it sticking to cookie sheets. So, cover the surface you plan to cool your candy on... When it's cool, bag it. Voila, you've made colonial candy that can be eaten as is or chopped and added to breads or used for dessert toppers. I remember coating the rinds in a bit more granulated sugar because it was tacky like coated with sugar glue. ;) So, fear not a bit of coating...

This makes a truly interesting gift to give people. Just tell them it's orange candy. They'll never guess how you made it. After they eat a piece, tell them what it is. My fellow anthropology students in grad school loved the idea and process here! ~Skhye

Oliver saunters out, cheeks full, munching on candied orange peels. He pumps his biceps and steals a kiss from Skhye. With a wicked wink, she lickds the juice from his sweet lips.

Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas!



Sharon Donovan said...

Let's have a warm welcome for Skhye Moncrief. Skhye, come on down! Now isn't this a great idea for a hostess gift? I love it and must try this treat. Oh, Oliver, dearheart! We're ready for herbal tea and jelly bellies for Skhye...I mean her medicine. Yes...ah...her pills. Can't forget her meds, Oliver. And do bring out a platter of orange peels for our guests to try. What do you mean you ate them all???!!!

Linda Swift said...

Good morning, Skhye. I'm glad to get to know more about you from this blog. I've always thought anthropology would be a very interesting field. And here in Florida with oranges grown all around me, I really should try your recipe for orange slices. Or maybe I'll just try to entice my husband to try it. He bakes yummy yeast bread. No, ladies, I don't loan him to anyone. Sorry. Happy holidays, Skhye and Sharon.

Skhye said...

LOL, you can tell I wrote that post fast. Thanks for having me here, Sharon. I just contemplated making some of these candied orange peels with my daughter but the fibromyalgia in my back is killing me. Maybe next year...

Check out my huge December prize: a cache of Time-Guardian treasure (see below). To enter, join me here:

1 box GOOD MEDICINE Native American herbal tea (in honor of the Native-American hero of my novel FORBIDDEN ETERNITY)

2 vials cinnamon oil (flavoring guaranteed to spice up baked goods that's reminiscent of a Time Guardian Ring Master, i.e. dragon's breath. Use with

1 Voodoo Doll Little Wizard keychain (Little Wizard can help acheive a goal in
school or work. He can help dreams come true, but only for someone else. He cannot help his owner. HE OF THE FIERY SWORD's King Arthur could have used one!)

1 AN ENGLISH LADYMASS: MEDIEVAL CHANT AND POLYPHONY album by Anonymous 4 (for the medieval period feel)

1 SCOTTISH TEATIME RECIPES (To reproduce a bit of SWORDSONG ambiance; ISBN:

The wee-est scrimshaw sailing-ship pendant (For those Time-Guardian wannabes like Twila Deeds in SACRIFICIAL HEARTS yearning for a journey through time and
across space...)

Skhye said...

Hi, Linda. My husband does laundry and dishes as well as vacuums. I know how it is to hide that info. ;) So, you're so lucky!

And I already gulped down the pills, Sharon. Thanks for looking out for me. ;)

P.L. Parker said...

Good Morning Ladies. Christmas morning wasn't the same without our orange candy slices in our stockings. Not homemade. Store bought. But my dad loves those things so into our stockings they went. The bugs in the food makes me think of that movie "Master and Commander" I think it is where the punch line in a joke is about some weevils they are watching crawl around the table. EEEEYUUUK.

Skhye said...

LOL, Patsy! Yes. The poor sot staring at the wiggling bugs in his cracker often says something about the "crawling" critters. ;) I'm with you on the yuck aspect. I'll just say I studied extinct cultures with anthropology because they couldn't make me eat their food. Food taboos are probably the most personal thing I can think of!

Sharon Donovan said...

Good morning Linda and Patsy. Thanks for coming by to chat. Skhye, you know when I was a little girl, I remember going to the Candy Rama and they had rectangular gift packages of the gummy orange, lemon and lime slices. They always looked so decorative, but being a diabetic, well, not for me! Now I wonder if your helthy little recipe could be made with a sugar sub? Sadly, to add to my health issues, I have acid reflux, all the health problems and issues are out on the table! And cannot tolerate anything acidic like OJ. So, no doubt, I lack VC. Any thoughts? BTW, sorry to hear you are in back pain today. Oliver, do bring a heat pack and your magic fingers.

Tiffany Green said...

Hello ladies. Skhye, I really enjoyed your post. It's amazing what can be done with things I never thought could be eaten. Anyway, the punch line about the weevils was "to always choose the lesser of two weevils." Love that movie!

Skhye said...

YES, Oliver, hot stones! I love those fruit slices you're talking about, Sharon. I think you can use sugar substitutes to make anything these days. I use Truvia--for tea. I haven't tried baking with it. But it's all natural Stevia... I know people are baking with Splenda. But I didn't care for it when pregnant, and that's stuck with me. LOL Isn't pregnancy weird?

Skhye said...

Well, the largest of the two weevils has more protein. ;) It behooves the guy with the iron stomach to ingest the big one! LOLLLLL

Thanks for stopping by, Tiffany.

Mona Risk said...

Skhye, my grandmother used to make those candied orange peels, but I haven't eaten them for years. I found them in a pastry shop in Greece and bought a pound. I will try your recipe.

Sharon, a special hug for my buddy Oliver.

Mary Ricksen said...

Hey Skhye, I made it years ago. So it's okay if Oliver ate them all. But I'll remember that Oliver.

Hi Ladies! How are you.

Sharon Donovan said...

Skhye, I will most definitely have to try the sugar sub. They really would make a nice gift! Thanks so much! Big wave to Tiffany, Mona and Mary! Oliver is so very ashamed he ate all the orange peels he and Skhy made. He is in the kitchen as we speak, stirring some new ones, Skhye cracking the whip. Wink wink...

Skhye said...

Isn't it crazy how these posts bring back memories? And make new ones with Oliver scarfing down all the candy. Alas, he's in a g-string and is working hard for the treats...

If you're into canning, add dried whole apricots to a pot. Fill to barely cover with water. Add 2 cups of sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon (or some pieces of it). Bring to a boil. The fruit will rehydrate and get tender. This is really good to can in jars with lots of the syrup. We eat them on dessert and pancakes...

And if we do this today, Oliver will be in the kitchen COOKING in his very wee g-string.

Sharon, I have no idea how that Truvia or Splenda would work with the citrus peel candy. :( Are you patient enough to surf the net and find someone who's made candy? They usually have warnings on which products to use, etc.

Judy said...

I have never heard of this orange slice recipe. I will have to copy and try it just because of my curiosity. You never know until you try things!! I keep telling the grandkids that :)

Hywela Lyn said...

Hello Skhye, sorry to be late to your post with our dear Sharon. I do hope your back is feeling a bit better, it must be miserable - but you somehow manage to keep busy and cheerful.

This looks like a great recipe, I might just try it although I'm not usually 'into' candy unless it's chocolate!

Now you just watch Oliver doing all that cooking without a shirt on - we wouldn't want him to scorch anything!"

Skhye said...

Judy, I took some to class in grad school. All my fellow anthropology students jumped right on the candy and thought it tasted better than modern stuff. :) It's got more flavor and a little more nutrient value! Don't tell the kids that. ;)

Hi, Lyn! Don't worry. Everyone's looking after Oliver. Even if it's just AT him. LOL. I always thought the candied orange peel might taste good dipped in dark chocolate.

Julie Robinson said...

Hello Skhye and Sharon! And everyone else.

You all party way too early for me, since I'm just getting here. Thanks for the recipe, Skhye. My Satsuma tree is heavy this year, and the recipe looks like one I could handle.
This bit of history is fascinating. I knew that they suffered from scurvy, but didn't realize how they combatted it. Thanks for sharing.

Julie Robinson said...


I do so hope Oliver can massage your back pain away for a least a day! Though it wouldn't hurt for him to hand-feed you those orange peels dipped in dark chocolate. . . .yum yum

I know what you mean about pregnancy. My dislike of foods during that time period has stayed with me, even though it's been 19 years. I guess the body knows what's good or bad for you.

Now I've never tried canning, though I have heard of Stevia being a good sugar substitute. I've even tried to grow it a couple of times, but was not successful.

Skhe, Your receipt would be a fun project in a h.s. home-ec class. Linda, are you averse to sharing the yeast bread recipe or is it a family secret? Maybe I could try giving the recipe to my DH? Hmmmm, well, I can always dream . . .

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Lyn, Judy and Julie. Yes our dear Skhye has enthrolled us all today with her orange peel recipe. Might I add just one more tid bit for the orange peel. And an apple peel can be substituted. You know when you open a box of brown sugar, it is always soft and pliable. Well, the next time you go to use it, you need a bull dozer to crack it! LOL Put a orange or apple slice in and it stays soft. It really works! Now, back to Skhye's recipe. I think it would be such a nice hostess gift and so healthy too. A special thanks to Skhye for sharing!
And thank you all for visiting with us today. As always, a big thank you to Hywela Lyn for sprinkling her magic wand over my blog with her talented decorating skill. Thank you, Lyn!Thank you so much!
Until next time, may the luck of the Irish be with you as you travel through life.
Love and Blessings,

Skhye said...

Thanks for having me over, Sharon. And yes, the apple peel works!!! Happy Holidays, everyone.

Julie Robinson said...

Thanks for that tip, Sharon. I never knew what to do about it except throw it out and buy a new box!