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Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Golden Apple

Have you taken your Vitamin C today? I know I have. Good thing too, if you "fly" around this world wide web as much as I do, you sure do need it. Why this talk about Vitamin C today? Well, it appears that everywhere you turn, this day in... claims, today, April 4, 1932, is the day that organic chemist, Professor Charles Glen King first isolated the preparations of Vitamin C {ascorbic acid} concentrates from lemon juice. I don't particularly feel like getting into the politics of who discovered what and when. I may decide to do that on some later date. Perhaps, on the birthday of Professor King in October. Instead, I much rather delve into a few of the books I have by my side and share what they have to "say" about the benefits of Vitamin C.

Did you know Vitamin C is good for your skin? Yep, if you want smooth and supple skin, soak up some softness with fruits and vegetables high in Vitamin C. Does Vitamin C Help Cure Wrinkles? What about Arthritis? I would venture to say, "An orange a day keeps the wrinkles away." Or at least, it can't hurt. However, I never did get that degree in nutrition.

Here's a dollop from the California Strawberry Commission:

Vitamin C (also called ascorbic acid or ascorbate) is a water-soluble vitamin with potent antioxidant capabilities. Vitamin C is essential for many biological functions, most notably ensuring proper wound healing and maintaining cartilage. Some of the best sources of vitamin C include strawberries, citrus, tomatoes, potatoes and leafy greens...

The University of Maryland Medical Center has a wonderful, and relatively short article on Vitamin C. Here is their list of recommended sources. I should mention, I'm leaving link resources below, including recipes:)

Some excellent sources of vitamin C are oranges, green peppers, watermelon, papaya, grapefruit, cantaloupe, strawberries, kiwi, mango, broccoli, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, and citrus juices or juices fortified with vitamin C. Raw and cooked leafy greens (turnip greens, spinach), red and green peppers, (hot & sweet) canned and fresh tomatoes, potatoes, winter squash, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, and pineapple are also rich sources of vitamin C. Vitamin C is sensitive to light, air, and heat, so you'll get the most vitamin C if you eat fruits and vegetables raw or lightly cooked.

I might add, parsnips, parsley, blueberries, powdered green tea (matcha), Goji berries and Indian gooseberry are a few additional sources of Vitamin C.

Kitchen Medicines
Kitchen Medicines by Ben Charles Harris was first published in 1968. Now before you conclude the information in this book is "out of style" remember, some of us growing up in the 60s were indeed planted in the seeds of the "back to nature" movement. To this day, one of my most memorable reading experiences comes from a book written my Rachel Carson titled Silent Spring. I won't bore you with my organic gardening endeavors as I have done that in previous posts. I do remind you to heed the warning of the tomato horn worms that may lurk in your garden should you decide to go organic in the near future. Scary "little" bugger. Look into companion planting for keeping him at bay:) The author of Kitchen Medicines also authored Eat the Weeds and Better Health with Culinary Herbs just in case you want to do further research:) The following is from the inside dust jacket:
In this colorful and practical book, Mr. Harris gives life to the ingredients which for ages have been used as ointments, poultices, soothing syrups, and tisanes, based on what he has learned from his grandfather and from his experience as a registered pharmacist...If you are interested in natural healthful recipes and remedies, in organic gardening, or in learning new ways with old foods, this book will be found very helpful.

I'm not sure why the word colorful is used in the intro to this book. There isn't one "colorful" picture. Instead, the dictionary layout of the book takes individual ingredients beginning with Allspice and gives an assortment of "therapeutic recipes." The only index is listed alphabetically also by therapeutic uses so I had to dig in a bit to glean this information about Watercress and Vitamin C.

Though the Spartans of old knew naught of the Vitamins of B Complex et al, they were quick to evaluate the efficacy of this herb's priceless ingredients, and would eat much of Watercress with their bread. They became noted for their wit and decision of character...Watercress is an outstanding example of nature's best sources of food. It is an excellent source of Vitamin C plus A, B, E, and G. Its high vitamin C content makes it an admirable food for the elderly since Vitamin C, especially of Watercress, will help to maintain suppleness of the small blood vessels...

Personally, I was mighty surprised to discover that the Watercress Capital of the World once resided in Madison County Alabama.

Although never a major cash crop, watercress was an important commodity in Alabama during the first half of the twentieth century. The watercress industry was centered in Madison County, then known primarily for its textiles and cotton, but at the height of production, the area also was known as the "Watercress Capital of the World." From the early 1900s through the 1960s, more than 2 million bunches of watercress were grown and harvested in the area, more than produced by any other source in the United States. Today, watercress production continues in Madison County, but on a much-reduced scale.

Although the figures may be a bit outdated, I'm sure the principle remains the same. So, just because, I offer you this also from Kitchen Medicines. Remember, this book was published in 1968!

When it comes to Vitamin C, six cents buys a day's supply from cabbage or oranges at 15 cents a pound. Or the same quanity of Vitamin C is obtained for nine cents from grapefruit at 15 cents a pound; while ten cents buys the daily quota from broccoli at 35 cents a pound or trimmed kale at 25 cents. Or if you prefer your Vitamin C from strawberries, 15 cents would get you a day's supply when the fruit is 49 cents a pound. And when potatoes are 10 cents a pound, 14 cents worth provides the desired vitamin C.

Orange Recipes

The Orange, was often referred to in Greek mythology as the golden apple this plum of trivia come from a book titled Orange Recipes Customs, Facts & Fancies by Jean Gorden; another book published in the 60s. This one has a copyright of 1962. Hey, even I wasn't in "double digits quite yet. At first glance, this book looks like an unassuming paperback but don't be mislead, it is brimming with trivia and the history of oranges, especially in Florida. At the time of this writing, the author, a noted authority on the history of roses, was a resident of St. Augustine and at one time owned an orange grove. The book is divided into sections:) Juice and Concentrates; The Golden Peel and Pulp; and The Blossoms, Orange Flower Water and Orange Blossom Honey. "There are 158 recipes, facts and fancies from 32 countries." Some of the woodcut images and photographs are quite rare. I just wish they were in color. I've chosen a recipe titled Spanish Easter Candy as I didn't find one by the same name online and Easter is right around the corner:)

Spanish Easter Candy: Bring to a boil 1 pound granulated sugar and 1 cup of water. ADD 1 pound shredded coconut mixed with the juice of 2 large oranges and 6 egg yolks lightly beaten.

Cook gently over medium heat until a little dropped in cold water forms a soft ball, or to 236 degrees. Remove from heat. Beat until thick.

Work fast and drop candy from tip of spoon onto waxed paper. If preferred pour into pan and cut into squares.

"Ambrosial; thats the word for the sweet fragrance of the orange flower."

L'Eau De La Vie
Visitors to this blog should know by now, I have a difficult time resisting a Rhyming Recipe. This "recipe" for L'Eau De La Vie is also included in the book Orange Recipes but, as the author notes, it originally came from a cookbook published in 1896 titled Ye Gentlewoman's Housewifery written by Margaret Huntington Hooker. Her book is available online @ google books. Rather than type the recipe for L'Eau De La Vie which may translate to "Water of Life" in French, I've decided to scan it. Remember to click to enlarge:) You may notice the recipe includes the ingredient perfume. Now, I don't know about you, but there is no perfume in the world that I would want to include in any dish I'm planning on serving. I bet you could substitute orange flower water and get comparable results.

Don't throw that Orange Peel Away! How wonderful would it be to pull up to a "fuel" station just in time to give your car its daily dose of Vitamin C. If it were me, I would plant those "fuel" dispensers right smack in the middle of a sweetly scented orange grove. Oh how pretty, fragrant orange blossoms decorate our new style "fuel" stations. I must be dreaming...or not...

The essential oil of extracted from orange peels has long been used in the manufacturing of perfumes, soaps and natural flavorings. You may remember, I mentioned a while back one of my very best favorite herbs is the scented geranium. Well, when I use to "play" around making soaps and candles, I experimented with home made extracts. Yes, I suppose you could say I was a "mad" scientist. Retrieving the essential oils from any fragrant plant, flower or leaf, was no easy task back then. I spent many an hour hunched over little bowls of alcohol, cotton ball in hand, painstakingly dipping and squeezing, squeezing and dipping. It was such FUN!!! It really was. Anyhow, it has gotten much easier thanks to "new technology." The way I figure it, my attempts at harvesting the essence of oil from my supermarket oranges were sheer pleasure as compared to those who do it on a regular basis. Did you know, that the orange based liqueur Grand Marnier, is produced from a blend of cognac, orange peel, spices and vanilla? Imagine the labor involved in producing just one bottle. I know for sure there is intense labor involved just in the peeling and grating of the bitter "sweet" orange rinds. And, how about vanilla? Who harvests those beans that we enjoy as vanilla? Hmmm....food for thought.

When's the last time you peeled an orange and squeezed the peel at the nearest living target? At first, surprise, at last, the tang. Recently, there has been a renewed interest in the ethanol derived from orange peels as a source of fuel. I suppose, it should be considered. According to the Orange Recipe book, the orange with its peel was big business during the early part of the 20th century. When plantation owners didn't know what to do with the residue peels which were a result of squeezing the oranges for juice, they discovered it made fairly good cattle feed. I mean really, what else could do with all those orange peels? Other places in the world find the profit of oranges in the peels and blossoms however, here in the US, we would much rather eat our oranges and drink our juice. As of 2005, Florida researchers were considering using the more than 8 million tons of orange peels and turning them into fuel for fuel celled batteries. Now, there's a thought. Flower Power, no, Orange Peel Power!!!

In China, orange blossoms were used to add perfume and flavor to tea. This was the original Orange pekoe of olden times, a name which is still applied to present day teas. And in england, mention is made that during the reign of Henry VIII "a few candied Orange-flower petals will impart a fine flavor to teas when infused with it".Orange Recipes pg.70

Let's have some cookies! Golden Orange Syrup Cookies, naturally:) I've chosen this recipe Orange Syrup Cookie because I think they would blend perfectly with any kind of tea. The recipe calls for orange flower water. In a recipe by Deborah Madison @ Fine Cooking, for Fresh Fig Tart with Orange Flower Custard, she suggests substituting orange zest for the orange blossom water. I would imagine, you could also substitute an orange liqueur such as Triple Sec with minor adjustments. If you can't find orange blossom water, check in the Mediterranean food section wherever you shop:)

Golden Orange Syrup
3 cups sugar
1 cup water
2 cups light corn syrup
1 tsp. lemon juice
6 tsps. orange flower water
few drops red & yellow food coloring
Combine sugar, water, and corn syrup in saucepan and boil gently for 10 minutes. When cool add lemon juice, orange flower water and a few drops of red and yellow food coloring to make syrup a golden-orange shade. Stir well and pour into sterilized bottles with screw tops. Store in cool, dark place.

This Golden Orange Syrup is delicious over ice cream, baked custard, cake, or with fresh or canned fruit. Try a tablespoon in milk for a tasty drink.

Golden Orange Syrup Cookies
1/2 pound butter
1/2 pound sugar (1 cup)
1/2 tsp. mace
1 pound flour
2 tbs. Golden Orange Syrup
Have butter at room temperature. Mix thoroughly with sugar. Add flour, mace, and Golden Orange Syrup. Mix well and shape into small loaf. Wrap in wax paper and place in the refrigerator for 8 or more hours. Slice the dough very thin and bake on a greased cookie sheet for about 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

FYI: Here's a site for National Cordon Bleu Day which also happens to be today!

Resources
1. Does Vitamin C Help Cure Wrinkles?
2. California Strawberry Commission
3. Californian Citrus Couscous Salad @ Dhanggit's Kitchen
4. Arthritis & Vitamin C
5. University of Maryland Medical Center
6. Health Benefits of Maccha Green Tea
7. Blueberries for Health
8. Goji Berry Nutrition Information
9. Goji Berries @ What's for Lunch Honey
10. Indian Gooseberry
11. Gooseberry (avalo or avla) @ Aayi's Recipes
12. What's is a Rhyming Recipe @ wikipedia
13. Grand Marnier Oranges & the Haitian Connection
14. Orange Peels to Methanol
15. Orange Flower Water Info
16. Food Yields (How much equals a pound, cup etc.)

9 comments:

  1. hi, louise! how are you?

    sounds like great natural syrup, louise! i used to be obsessed with a vitamin c syrup i used to have as a kid and this post reminded me of how great it tasted (even if it was medicine. lol!). i just copied the syrup recipe and will definitely try it soon. hehe. :D

    i love cordon bleu!!! wheee.

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  2. I never really thought about Vitamin C being "discovered" but it makes perfect sense. Too bad he didn't take out a patent, too. That would have been big! Love the cookie recipe!

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  3. As someone interested in sustainable solutions, I like the idea of using all those orange peels (leftover from orange juice, I assume?) for energy!

    And I also learned that comparing apples and oranges is really just comparing apples and golden apples :) Cool!

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  4. I am a bit afraid of the pesticides they spray on those oranges...eating the peel doesn't sound a good idea to me...

    Interesting info...learned quite a bit today !

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  5. Interesting to learn more about Vit. C

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  6. i'm doing well, acey,
    i hope you are feeling better too:) perhaps, you should revisit your childhood "medicine." it may help what ails you these days. let me know when you try it. be sure and scrub the oranges to free them of any pesticides. i too "love" cordon bleu, it doesn't "love" me:(

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  7. Hi T.W. There were quite a few who contributed to the "discovery" of vitamin C. Yet, none patented it. Although one, I think, received a Nobel Prize. It wasn't King.

    I thought the cookie recipe quite interesting. It has been added to my ever growing "someday" list:)

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  8. Hi Erica,
    I'm so glad you enjoyed your visit. I thought it was pretty cool too. Especially, since the idea first emerged in the 60s. However, you know as well as I, it may have been long before even that.

    I mean really, beautiful blooms, yummy healthy juice, taste globes, and fuel. Who could ask for anything more...

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  9. Hi Sidney,
    Glad you enjoyed your visit:)
    Thanks for the reminder about the pesticides. I'm going to add it to the recipe.

    Hi Selba,
    Thanks for dropping by. I remembered what I forgot doing this post. It was fun!

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Through this wide opened gate,
none came to early,
none returned to late.

Thanks for dropping in...Louise