I’ve been going to farmers’ markets religiously for the last month or so. I rotate my weekly trips between Downtown Saturday Morning Market in Carson City, the Grove at South Creek, and the Summit Reno Farmers’ Market. They evoke my curiosity, work up my appetite, and broaden my culinary horizons.
Last time I went I was surprised to see a stand full of oranges that were half green half dull orange; nonetheless they were being snatched right and left. I was not only astonished to see the winter fruit in the height of the summer, but I rightly questioned its ripeness.
“Are they ripe?” I voiced my concern.
There was no way I was going to pay $ 3.00 a pound for a bunch of oranges that would have to be coaxed into ripening in a brown bag or on the window sill. And that can take days. I expect instant gratification when I choose to go to a farmers’ market.
“Yes, they are. Try a piece. I just cut one up,” said a nice lady behind the stand.
“Even the green ones?” I persisted.
“Oh, yeah. These are Valencia oranges. They are about the only oranges in season during summer,” she returned.
Being able to taste some produce—especially stone fruit and berries—before buying is another thing I adore about farmers’ markets.
And so I tried a segment. Or two. Maybe three altogether since I stopped by the stand once again on the way back. The sweet juice I sank my teeth into was undeniably coming from oranges that were in season.
And boy oh boy, were they heavy!
“Heavy with juice, darling,” read my mind Kevin.
And just like that, he planted an idea in my head.
We each had one in the car on the way back home.
At home I juiced the remaining oranges along with a couple of sweet white grapefruit or oroblancos (another farmers’ market revelation!) and a lemon, added water, sugar, a sprig of mint, and left the concoction steep in the fridge overnight.
That citrusade was part of an even bigger plan to take it with us on a hiking trip the next morning. After digging out (we are still unpacking, you know) my retro-inspired glass flasks for us and our fellow hikers, the only problem I faced was figuring out how to keep it chilled for the duration of the hike or at least the greater part of it.
Hauling the flasks along in a cooler was out of the question since we wanted to travel as light as possible. Adding ice cubes was just as big of a problem as the neck of the bottles was too narrow; and I didn’t want to dilute the just perfect ratio of the citrus juice to the water.
So I lowered my freezer temperature by about five degrees, sliced the orange I’d set aside for garnish into circles, then half moons, and then, carefully following the fibrous seams, dissected each half moon into tiny triangles. I then spread them on a sheet of parchment paper and left them in the freezer overnight.
The next morning I had the cutest ice cubes to keep the flavor of the drink as close to the original as possible.
I must say that among all the nature-inspired activities in the area hiking is my favorite.
And so is Nicole’s, I believe. I can’t imagine otherwise: a five-year-old who whines that she doesn’t want to walk two hundred feet from our house to the playground can actually hike for at least two miles in the dense woods of Timberline.
What we call “Timberline” is actually a South Reno suburban road that is the gateway to a scenic national park with hiking trails suitable for joggers, mountain bikers, and dog walkers.
I love walking in general. Around my neighborhood, in a city park or on the treadmill at the gym, if you will. Not only is it a moderate physical workout, but it also promotes pondering, reminiscing, dreaming . . .
I’d always thought that hiking was pretty much the same. Always . . . until I breathed in the crisp and spicy pine-infused air of Timberline, splashed up my face with the ice-cold mountain water, and looked up at the mighty hundred-year pine and cypress trees, and sat down on a boulder to have a sip of my citrusade.
Hiking elevates walking to the next level. It makes it naturalistic. Aesthetic. Educational.
Nicole and my neighbor Lili’s three-year-old daughter Jayden (what a beautiful name!) love that path. They stop now and then to throw pebbles and small-size rocks into the white water creek that flows down from the height of the mountain, they love to balance on a skinny log while crossing its shallow waters, and they look for Christmas trees they would come back to cut and sled home in the winter.
That particular day they loved the citrus drink just as much. Pulp, mint, and all . . .
Recipe for Olga’s Original Citrusade
1. 2/3 cup fresh orange juice (from about 2 medium Valencia oranges or any other sweet oranges), strained
2. 1 cup fresh grapefruit juice (from about 2 medium oroblancos or any other sweet grapefruit), strained
3. ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from about 1 lemon), strained
4. 3 cups water
5. 1 cup simple syrup
6. a sprig of fresh mint
1. Make simple syrup by combining 1 cup water with ½ cup white sugar and ½ cup natural cane sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar has dissolved; cool.
2. Stir the juices, syrup, and water in a large pitcher.
3. Add a sprig of mint and let steep in the fridge overnight.
4. Serve as is or over ice.