According to the calendar and Punxsutawney Phil, we are still knee-deep in winter. The back hall should be full of winter coats, balaclavas, snow boots, misplaced gloves, and puddles of melted snow. We should be huddled together in front of the fire, clutching warm mugs of cocoa, readjusting our blankets, and stroking the dog, and talking about vacations in warm and sunny places.
Reality check: for the last week it has been unseasonably warm. Punxsutawney Phil needs a new job. Last night, after another fulfilling work day, Mr. Sanders and I sat on the back porch, decompressing, in light cotton sweaters, watching as the sun went down and the crazy robins streamed in to assume their rightful spots in the bird bath. It is February, and spring has sprung.
And there, the carefully laid plans for seasonal newspaper assignments went astray. This year we aren’t longing so much to go someplace warm to eat tropical fruit and sun ourselves next to riotously pink bougainvillea bushes. Most years, in February we normally like to imagine what folks in equatorial countries are doing – certainly not shoveling snow. They are lounging in white linen, sipping cool cocktails, watching surfers, dipping their toes in the pool.
In February we wind up having to frequent the grocery store produce department that reminds us of the perfect spring break: pineapples, bananas, grapefruit, strawberries, lemons, Key limes and blood oranges equal sun tan lotion, daiquiris, piña coladas, Cuba Libres. Ah, misspent youth.
Mr. Sanders and I lived in Florida for a long time, in a little house in a neighborhood that had once been a pineapple plantation. We had a few coconut palm trees that would, without warning, abruptly and loudly drop coconuts, an orange tree with sweetly fragrant white blossoms, as well as a few grapefruit trees, in our flood-prone yard. We could never muster the energy to crack open a coconut, but we used to harvest grapefruit, and broil grapefruit halves dusted with a thin glaze of brown sugar. Those were divine Breakers-worthy breakfasts for our annual parade of sun-seeking February visitors. And we would make evening cocktails with the oranges, which were fresher, juicier and more flavorful than anything found in the produce department.
But here, in the present day, mid-twenty-first century, far from fresh fruit growing in our back yard, we are back to relying on the fair-to-middling, not-so-fresh grocery store blood oranges, grapefruit and other citrus fruits to remind us of the spring breaks that might have been. And right now, while the daffodils are starting to bloom, there are signs that winter is over; a tall, cool cocktail might be the next best thing we can hope for. And if the weather turns cold again, and you know it probably will, we enjoyed an early spring break; the memories of it still glow brightly.
It’s not all about decadence and having fun in the sun and sand.This Carrot-Citrus Crush cocktail is practically a healthy green leafy salad: https://www.cookinglight.com/recipes/carrot-citrus-crush
And this actually is a healthy salad: Cara Cara and Blood-Orange Salad with Ricotta Salata – https://www.marthastewart.com/286438/blood-orange-recipes?slide=f213042c-2ace-4a9e-8cd6-51155f43f1eb#f213042c-2ace-4a9e-8cd6-51155f43f1eb
This is a nice twist on a garden variety bloody Mary: https://www.marthastewart.com/964314/bloody-orange-maria
Sex and the City gave us the cosmo – here is an updated version: https://www.supergoldenbakes.com/2015/02/cocktail-friday-blood-orange.html
Mark Bittman has a recipe for a blood orange salad – which will bring the glow and warmth of a Key West sunset to your sallow winter cheeks: https://markbittman.com/recipes-1/winter-citrus-salad-with-honey-dressing
And because not all of us are drinking these days, here is a simple blood orange drink sans liquor: https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/blood-orange-ginger-soda
Instead of grilled grapefruit, try this ricotta brioche toast for your next house guest: https://www.purewow.com/recipes/broiled-citrus-ricotta-toast It’s Florida, without the crazy.
Bon Appétit has all of the blood orange answers: https://www.bonappetit.com/ingredient/blood-orange
Spring is on its way. Find a sunny corner and warm up. It won’t be long now.
“Meanwhile the sunsets are mad orange fools raging in the gloom.”
– Jack Kerouac