Tangerine Christmas

Santa came to our rural town on a fire truck, bearing dozens of boxes of candy for us children. We’d bundle up in our warmest coats, boots and mittens, and wait in the cold for what seemed like hours back then to receive our annual package of peanuts, hard candies … and a tangerine. I don’t know for sure, but I doubt there’s a tangerine in the boxes he distributes in my hometown today. But back in the 1940s, a fresh tangerine in Michigan in December was a real treat.

The neat thing about the tangerine, and I mean neat, was that it was so easy to peel–yes, so easy a child could do it. Additionally, the small sections of the tangerine separated more easily than oranges, and did not create streams of juice running to my elbows.

To this day, the smell of a freshly peeled tangerine or orange at any time of year takes me back to my childhood and Christmas in Hubbardston. Maybe I should have started this post with “Once upon a time, a long time ago …” Instead, I’d like for you to think about the smells you associate with Christmas.

Our sense of smell has a unique way of taking us to a special times and places, some of which we treasure and some we’d just as soon forget. For most of us, the fragrances of pine, peppermint, cinnamon, cloves and other spices remind us of Christmastime. Ah yes, the real pine tree standing (leaning?) in the parlor, or the aromas of spicy delicacies coming from Mom’s oven. For me, it’s citrus, which brings me to recipe you might enjoy. It’s one of my favorites at Christmastime or any time of year for that matter. I assure you, it will generate some wonderful fragrances from your kitchen … and perhaps take you back to a special time and place, too.  Merry Christmas!

ORANGE NUT BREAD

Pour the juice from 1 medium orange into a cup and add enough boiling water to fill the cup, and set aside. Remove most of the membrane from the orange peel. Chop the peel and 1 cup of dates (or raisins). Add orange juice. Stir in 2 tbsp. melted shortening, 1 tsp. vanilla, and 1 well-beaten egg. Add 2 cups flour with 1/4 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. soda, and 3/4 cup sugar. Stir in 1/2 cup of nuts. Bake in a loaf pan at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Enjoy!

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