Trash To Tresure: Citrus Peels

Jace at the controls of the blog again, this time it’s to share with you an awesome cleaner, candy, and sauce all from something most people throw away: citrus peels! The best part is you don’t have to choose one of these things to make, you can do all three with the same peels.

The first step is to eat oranges, since we’re reducing processed snacks and trying to include fruit and veggies into all of our meals, this has become easy for us. Next of course is to save the peel! I peel into quarters, and then let the peels sit in the sunny kitchen window sill to dry out (I know this bugs Chelsea to no end, but sacrifices must be made!) You can also use lemon and lime rinds, but we don’t use nearly as many of them and they are much harder to separate the flesh from the peel. Actually lemon peels would be better for the cleaner because of their high acidity compared to orange peels, but I digress…

Window sill over flowing with peels: it’s been cloudy so they haven’t been dying out as quick

Once I’ve got a quart mason jar full of dried peels (really pack ‘em in there) I fill it to the top with white vinegar and cap it. I leave the jar in the window sill, hoping the alternating warmth from the sun and cool from the night air will draw out more of the orangie goodness (just a theory.) Once the color of the vinegar stops getting darker I pull it from the window sill, but the different places I learned this trick from said leave it for anywhere from 10 days, to as much as a month.
Next, pour off the liquid and save it, this is your cleaner, but we’re not done! Now refill the jar with vinegar again and repeat, mixing your two batches together for a more even product.
Place the finished cleaner in a spray bottle and use to wipe up tough messes. The acidity of the vinegar acts as a disinfectant (that’s why you pickle things in vinegar after all; too keep the bugs out) and the orange oils you extracted not only provide an interesting scent when paired with the vinegar, but also help cut grease and grime (think about all those orange powered commercial cleaners.)

Citrus cleaner ready to tackle tough jobs!

After you’ve used the peels to make your cleaner next, use them to make candied citrus rind! This is a candy and is not necessarily healthy, but it has a very similar taste and texture to orange slices like you’d buy at the gas station, but without the HFCS, and with natural orange, so it’s not the worst thing in the world.
To make the candy take your peels and bring them to a boil in a pot of water, this will help draw out the vinegar and any remaining oil which would make the candy bitter. Once at a boil I took it off the fire, and drained it, but if you are using fresh peels that haven’t soaked in vinegar, let them boil for ten minutes prior to draining. Boil and drain a second time, waiting ten minutes and doing it three times if the peels are fresh, but again, not if they were presoaked.
Next place your peels into a skillet and pour in three cups water and 2 cups (yes two cups) of sugar. Most recipes called for a cup of water and sugar for each cup of citrus peel, but I found this to be more than adequate for our ~4 cups of peel.
Next place the concoction on a low heat (just below a boil) and cook down allowing the peels to absorb the sugar. This will take several hours. Make sure you are stirring the pieces around and recoating them in the syrup as it thickens or else you’ll end up with an inconsistent flavor. Stirring also helps the water evaporate quicker as it gives it a higher surface area. Be very vigilant toward the end with stirring and reducing the heat or else your syrup will begin to boil and possibly burn. Once there is only about a half to a quarter cup of syrup just coating the bottom of the pan, kill the heat and start to take the peels out and coat them in sugar. I recommend placing the pan at an angle to allow the syrup to pool to one end of the pan and keep the peels on the other end. Work while everything is still warm or else the syrup will start to thicken and crystallize. With the peels rolled in sugar place them on a cooling rack to dry for a day or so. Enjoy.

Citrus candy in a jar awaitng consumption

For the final use, take the orange tinged syrup left in the pan, add some soy sauce, to taste, and thin with water. The thinner the sauce the more cook time it will allow, I ended up with about 1.5 cups if I had to estimate. As it is, the sauce will impart a very light orange flavor, but you can make it more intense by adding orange juice at this stage. Cook up some rice, and a few chicken breasts. Once the chicken is fully cooked add the sauce to the pan and let the chicken simmer, turning occasionally to coat. Remove when the sauce becomes darker and thickens to a syrup again, should take about 5-10 minutes. Serve using the remaining sauce in the pan to add to the rice if you wish.

Yummy orange chicken and rice!

I pieced this string of ideas from a number of sources, the citrus cleaner has appeared on multiple blogs and Pintrest, and I don’t know who invented it, the candied citrus rind is an old recipe I had never heard of until I saw a brief mention of it in this blog by the Green Cheapskate. Further research (simplyrecipes)showed that the candy often turned out bitter and with a less gummy texture unless the peels were soaked in salt water or alcohol. I thought that the vinegar soak might have a similar effect, and it did! Though I do plan to make that citrus infused vodka I heard mention of as an alternate precandy soak! Then the chicken I kind of made up on the spot when I saw I had left over syrup that I didn’t want to throw it out.
Now, go eat some oranges!


Insta-Friday | Jace style!

Chelsea’s phone is broke but mine isn’t! So I’ll hijack the blog to bring some photos.

1. Jarvis in his made-by-mommy Wonder Pets cape, running to save some an animal in need (most likely the puppy)

2. Tomatoes, Eggplant, Okra, and Jalapenos enjoying some light in their new larger solo cup containers. 

3. We call him the screacher preacher creature, here he is doing the preaching part,  you don’t want to see the screacher part!
4. Daddy is flying a helicopter on the front page of the base paper!

Huey Flying Adventure

**This blog was started primarily for the family to stay in touch with us while we live so far away. It’s evolved into a bit more than that, but hubby has decided to start ‘guest’ posting every once in a while on his projects and work life, to keep everyone informed. So here’s his first post!**

Not our Huey, but cool!
Hey everyone! First post by Jace, hopefully I’ll start doing some more of these, and maybe we can change the name of the blog? Anyway, I am writing this post because of a crazy event in the helicopter the other day. 

For background info, my job flying consists of many things, but one of our primary missions is to escort convoys around the missile complex here at Minot AFB, ND. These convoys are carrying nuclear warheads to or from a missile silo coming from or going to be repaired. We fly these escort missions carrying specially trained Security Forces personnel (cops) who carry a variety of specialty weapons and equipment. 

While flying one of these escort missions on Friday, 2 December one of the more senior cops riding in the back started to complain about feeling airsick, which he had never gotten before. So as usual when someone starts getting airsick, we start an impromptu airshow… Ha, just kidding, no we start to fly really tame. Then he starts to explain that he had been having pretty strong headaches for the past 10 days or so. Thinking he was dehydrated, he had been drinking lots of water, to no avail, and that he had also been having weird pains in his chest the previous few days. One of the other cops on the helicopter with us just happened to be an EMT, so he started to assess the sick guy (cop #1) based on the things he had divulged. At this point in the flight I had just taken the controls from the co-pilot because, as is customary, he had just flown the previous thirty minutes and so it was my turn to fly. As the Aircraft Commander (AC) on this particular flight it was my job to make decisions for the aircraft, regardless of whether I was on the controls or not, so when cop #1 started to hyperventilate, I suggested we find someplace to set down and let him get out of the helicopter and get some air. So the co-pilot found a missile site for us to go land at since we don’t have landing rights just anywhere unless it’s an emergency, which at this point we didn’t think it was. The site had had chosen was far in front of the convoy route so that we could allow the convoy to catch up to us as we sat down, because we still had to provide support for the mission. Enroute to the landing site cop #1 had started to calm down gain control of his breathing again while the co-pilot, flight engineer, and I (the aircrew) were wrapping up our pre-landing procedures. But about two minutes out from the landing site cop #1 started to hyperventilate again. I initially made a turn to take us back to base but the crew decided it would be better to get him on the ground and assess him since we were close. We executed the landing at the missile site, and got cop #1 out of the helicopter, but he had to be supported by two other cops, because he was unable to stand. Seeing this, the crew and I started talking about the possibility of taking him directly to the emergency room at Trinity hospital in Minot. When the EMT who was helping hold up cop #1 came back up on the intercom I asked him if he also thought we should go to the ER, and he agreed saying that cop #1 appeared at that point to be going in and out of consciousness.  

With the decision made to take the cop to the ER we got the cops in and took off with all speed, coordinating with the other helicopter flying the convoy to take over full support of the mission and with the base to coordinate our arrival at the hospital. What would normally be a 30 minute flight passed in about 17 minutes as I pushed the speed of the helicopter to beyond the maximum speed indicated on the charts for our current conditions, knowing that the charted “max speed” is actually based on the flight controls at a full deflection, and that by leaving the controls roughly neutral I could exceed that speed by a fair bit, and that the helicopter would give me a warning if I pushed it too far by shaking much more than normal. We sped into the airspace surrounding Minot International, without a hitch, she knew we were coming and had cleared the way for us (if anyone was there at all.) Trinity Hospital has its own helipad on top of the main building, but the winds where such that the pad was on the downwind side of a taller part of the building meaning there would be lots of turbulent swirling wind right over the pad. But I had done a few landings at the helipad on the hospital before, and the winds were almost always like that, so I was mentally prepared for it. With the help of the flight engineer and the co-pilot we made the landing to the pad, quick, safe, and a little scary. Cop #1 was taken on a stretcher and cop #2 followed and disappeared down the tunnel into the hospital while the aircrew celebrated the first medevac the 54th helicopter squad had accomplished in over 15 years. 

Cop #1 we later found out had several things going wrong for him that day; #1: he had been an avid consumer of high caffeine energy drinks until about 3 weeks prior to that flight when he had gone cold turkey on them, until that morning when he had had nothing for breakfast, but an energy drink. #2: the day before he had slipped and fell on the ice and smacked himself in the head with his rifle (see facepalm) and so had some issues with that. But in the end, the hospital never found anything they could definitely point to as the cause of his situation. The moral of the story is, if you are going to get unexplainable sick, do it on a helicopter, with an EMT on board!