Monday, May 12, 2014

Pictureless instructions for sharing and candy

@PipneyJane: I blame you. I got totally sidetracked into the whole ‘share button’ thing. The easy, sensible way to do it is to go into your Design => Layout, click on the ‘edit’ hyperlink under ‘Blog Posts’, and fourth from the bottom there is “Show Share Buttons.” Which is what I was doing until I noticed that mine was apparently showing what was supposed to be hover-over text. And I couldn’t find the bit in the HTML where it would be doing that, because this sometimes happens when you use “shared, proprietary” code. They hide it from you. On purpose. Because otherwise people like me (who think they know some stuff but hahahaha, don’t), get in there and try to hack it. And suddenly everybody who uses it is all how come it doesn’t work like THAT?! and it just gets to be a real headache for the dev team.

ANYWAY. One journey down the rabbit hole later, I found this post from The Blog Decorator and about five minutes later I had much cuter share-buttons. At five minutes and thirty seconds I had a different set of buttons, because I’ve actually heard of Tumblr. Then at five minutes forty-five seconds I was all, how in the HELL would somebody ‘Tweet’ one of these posts?! and ended up with what I have now. Because sticking with the copy/paste I was given and which worked just fine would be too easy, apparently.

In other news, The Blog Decorator seems to be a fine purveyor of exactly the sort of thing I should stay away from and I hope they never notice a link back from this place to them because they may send me some kind of ‘cease and desist, we only want pretty blogs like the ones we design to link to us’ and then I might cry.

OK, not really. I mean, maybe, but they don’t look like the kind of people who send Nastygrams to people.

Plus, I’m a database developer. We don’t cry just because somebody called our code ugly. Pretty much we just look at you expectantly waiting for the actual content of your observation. Because saying that backend database code is “ugly” is kind of like walking up and saying, “Meetings sure are a pain in the arse.”

This statement is clearly not the core reason you are taking time out of your busy day to take time out of my busy day. That was just an opener. There is more to come.

But I digress.

So – the lemon peel candy. This is not your traditional “candied lemon zest.” It’s a lot thicker and chewier, and definitely not much like that delicate little curlie-queued froodiddery that sometimes tops $6 cupcakes that have, like, lavender essence in them or something.

The end result of this is something with a lot more substance to it; it’s thicker, a bit chewy (but not like Gummy-Bear chewy)…it’s a little hard to describe, actually. I’ve found that most people either really like it, or really don’t. Not a lot of folks in the middle of the road.

This is definitely one of those sorts of things you’ll want to do when you have a weekend mostly free; while the actual hands-on stuff is actually fairly limited, there’s a ton of “then ignore it for x-many hours” that goes on here, including one overnight soaking in syrup, and another overnight drying period.

Oh, and this is pretty much lifted from Canning For A New Generation, which is one of my favorite canning books. I mean, yes, the ‘Complete’ book put out by Ball is the go-to for “hmm, what do I do with THIS, I wonder” but the new-generation book puts together more interesting spices and spins on things, and has a lot of that sort of…Indian-Asian twist going that a lot of the more ’Murican cookbooks tend to avoid. (“How To Make Authentic Indian Curry: Step 1, buy premade curry paste…”). But I digress again.

You’ll need:

  • 5 pounds of lemons
  • 5 cups of sugar, plus about half a cup or so
  • LOTS of water


  1. Scrub and juice the lemons
    1. You want to get rid of the pulp (juicy, membrane-y inner parts)
    2. But don’t worry too much about the pith (the bitter white inner peel most recipes will demand that you pare away) – that’s the payoff of this method, you don’t have to make yourself crazy and/or lose half the skin off your fingers and/or give up gosh knows how many pounds over time of candy cutting away all that pith
  2. Cut the peel into fairly large slices
    1. I usually take each half lemon and slice it in half, and then slice that half into thirds for our monster-sized homegrown lemons, or into half for more normal store-bought sized ones
    2. Aside: The best way I’ve found to do this is actually to stack up 2-3 lemon halves and do that whole stack at once.
      1. It’s way faster than doing each one by itself
      2. Plus it makes me feel like a bit more like She-Ra, Goddess of Warfare And Also Kitchen Knives than Esmeralda Frump, Too Cheap To Throw Away Lemon Peels 
  3. Put the sliced-up lemon peel into a pot big enough to hold them and enough cold water to cover them by an inch or so
  4. Put the lid on the pot and bring to a boil, boil for 10 minutes
  5. Drain and do it again, another 10 minutes
    1. Don’t skip this
    2. Trust me
    3. The pith will still manage to be bitter somehow
    4. It is like nature’s little miracle, how elebenty-bazillion tons of sugar cannot overwhelm the bitterness of that pith…but an extra cycle of boiling can
  6. Cover with cold water one more time, bring to a boil one more time…then lower the heat and let it simmer for ~ 30 minutes, until the peel is tender
    1. Test this with, like, your thumbnail or a fork
      1. Not by biting into it
      2. It’s not nasty-bitter anymore, but it ain’t candy yet either
  7. Drain in a colander
  8. In the same pan, put the 5 cups of sugar + 5 cups of water and bring to a boil
  9. Stir just until the sugar is all dissolved, then stop
  10. Continue not-stirring while it boils and makes you incredibly anxious because shouldn’t I be stirring that? just a little bit? Or something? (No. You should not. Resist.) until it reaches 220 degrees, ~ 15 minutes of nail-biting, no-stirring anxiety
    1. …or is that just me…?
  11. Add the peel (carefully, that simple-syrup LOVES to splash up and burn ya), bring back up to a simmer
  12. Simmer without stirring again (they’re killing me here) until the peel is translucent, ~ 45 minutes
    1. It isn’t actually see-through translucent, more glassy-looking-lemon-peel than see-through-like-window-glass
  13. Remove from the heat and let stand, undisturbed, overnight
  14. The next morning, bring to a boil and let cook without stirring what is WRONG with these people?! until it reaches 226 degrees – about 30 minutes
  15. Let stand for 2-4 hours
  16. Bring back to a boil and again with the no-stirring thing until it gets to 228 degrees – this tends to happen really fast comparatively speaking, maybe 10-15 minutes, so keep an eye on it!
  17. …then ignore it for 2-4 hours again…
  18. ONE LAST TIME! Bring to a boil, then take it off the heat immediately
  19. Wait for it to cool down just enough to not be like handling living, radioactive death-juice with a grudge against you PERSONALLY
    1. You want to, you know, not die if/when it splashes a bit
    2. But you don’t want it to have gotten cool enough to start thickening up on you – that’s a stone drag to deal with
  20. Normal Finishing Method:
    1. Fish out with a fork or tongs or chopsticks or whatever floats your canoe and arrange on wire rackets set over baking sheets
      1. No fraternizing! Pieces should not be touching
      2. If they touch, they will never come apar
      3. Hopefully there’s a bunch of lemon simple syrup left over
        1. 1:1:1 lemon juice, simple-syrup, and water usually makes a pretty darned good lemonade – you can also mix up the syrup and the juice and freeze it, and “reconstitute” it with water when you want it.
        2. It’s like a magic trick! Behold! Homemade lemonade on-demand, I AM A WIZARD!! 
    2. Put them into a turned off oven to dry for ~ 24 hours
    3. If you have a pilot light, that’s fantastic, you’re done. Well. With this step, anyway.
    4. Otherwise, you can flip on the oven light for a bit now and again – mine will heat the oven to right around 100-115 degrees-ish, which is a great temperature for slow drying things like this…but it does get a little too hot if I just leave it on 24/7, so, it’s kind of like two hours ON, three hours OFF, which can get a little annoying
    5. The peel will still be distressingly sticky, so give it a toss in ~ ½ cup more sugar
      1. Any leftover sugar is marvelous in tea or on top of scones, just sayin’
    6. Set it back on the racks for 1-2 hours and ohmygah, FINALLY, you’re done
  21. Alternative Finishing Method For Crazy People Who Own This Kind Of Stuff:
    1. Fish out as above, put on your dehydrator racks
      1. Use the “non-stick / porous” liners, like you’d use for strawberries, banana chips etc. (not your fruit leather ones)
      2. Least Fiddly Way: Put them on the racks peel side up and don’t even THINK about the whole ‘which side up’ issue again
      3. Unnecessarily Fiddly Way For OCD Types, Part I: Arrange them peel side down
    2. Set dehydrator to ~ 125 degrees and let go for ~ 18 hours
    3. Flip racks halfway through: Top to bottom, back to front, the usual drill
      1. Unnecessarily Fiddly Way For OCD Types, Part II: Flip the slices peel side up when you restage the racks
        1. This makes them a bit less “gooey” at the end, and ends with a nicer ‘glossiness’ to the ‘up’ side of the peel
        2. BUT, it is 100% completely not necessary to end up with good tasting candy, so, it really is a rather silly thing to put yourself through
    4. Toss in ½ cup sugar to keep from sticking; if you like ‘raw’-type sugar, it makes an excellent finishing move here
    5. Bonus for owning the dehydrator, they are not generally still so sticky that they need a second round of drying – unless it is a bit humid out, I’ve generally found I can put them straight into the airtight container at this point

Keeps in an airtight container for ~ 2 months at room temperature, or almost-forever in the freezer if you’ve got it well-sealed. Or so I am told, it doesn’t usually last more than a week or so around here, no matter how much of it I make.


Tiana Smith said...

Hey there - Tiana from the Blog Decorator here :) Yep, enough people clicked on your link that I followed over to see your site and what you said about us! You can't hide for long :)

Just wanted to say thank you for linking to our blog post, and I don't think your blog is ugly! LOL, though I do love your sense of humor!

I'm glad you got the share buttons to work for you - our whole goal was to make some cute share buttons code that everyone could use, whether they use one of our templates or not. So yay!

Mother of Chaos said...

AH! They found me!! :)

Hester from Atlanta said...

I love the idea of the lemon candy. However, as OCD as I am, my ADHD will never let me go through all this. (VBG) But it does sound fabulous.

PipneyJane said...

Sorry, Tama.

(well, almost.)

Thanks for the recipe.

- Pam