Kumquat

There is nothing that accentuates a sense of home better than great neighbors.  All the more so in a world of automatic sprinklers and garage door openers that make it easy to avoid one another.

One of our neighbors recently called me up and asked if I’d like a big bag of kumquats they had just gathered from their tree.  I had no idea what to do with kumquats, but I jumped at the opportunity to experiment.

Aren’t kumquats such a cheery little fruit?  I decided to make a batch of candied kumquats.  There are tons of mouth-watering recipes out there that incorporate kumquats.  But I didn’t have all the necessary ingredients to do any of them, and I was feeling too lazy to drag my kids to the supermarket.  So candied kumquats it is, simply because I did indeed have sugar and water.

The beauty of making candied kumquats?  You also end up with kumquat syrup.  Both can be used in a myriad of ways.  Candied kumquats can be mixed into salads, incorporated into a cookie or scone recipe, or used as a topping on cake or ice cream.  The syrup can be drizzled onto yogurt or granola, stirred into an iced tea, or transformed into a refreshing cocktail with champagne.

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Candied Kumquats
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
About 20 kumquats, sliced
 
Boil the water and sugar, stirring frequently, until all the sugar has dissolved.  Add the sliced kumquats and turn down the heat to a steady simmer for about 10 minutes.  Continue to stir the kumquats.  Once the kumquats are looking a bit transparent and the syrup has thickened slightly, scoop out the kumquats with a slotted spoon into a container for storage.  Drizzle a couple tablespoons of syrup over the kumquats.  Simmer the syrup a few minutes more to thicken.  Transfer the syrup to a separate container.  Allow the candied kumquats and the kumquat syrup to cool, then refrigerate. 
 
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With candied kumquats on hand, I felt inspired to bake something the following day.  Now, just to give you a little context, I won’t pretend that I get fancy at home.  I don’t.  Not with two kids.  Not with how disorganized I am when it comes to grocery shopping.  Let’s get real.  I throw things together and cross my fingers it turns out okay.

I dug around my pantry and discovered a box of Trader Joe’s vanilla cake mix.  I think to myself, Aha!  I can make cake, and I can top it with candied kumquats!  Brilliant I am!

And look at that…

While getting the eggs for the cake mix, I also realized I had blueberries to use up.  So I threw them in.  Look how pretty that is.  I made stripes!  And it would have been a mighty fabulous cake, except I didn’t realize one thing…

Toppings on a cake should be placed AFTER you’ve baked the cake.  Otherwise, they just sink to the bottom.

Oh.

Even Smartypants knew that.  Probably 99% of people out there already know this too.  But for the other 1%, of which I am one of them, this is just a reminder that ingredients placed on top of cake batter will indeed sink to the bottom.  Except for that kumquat in the middle of my cake that bravely kept swimming to the top.

And yes, I baked the cake a little too long.

But the concept and vision was there, and it did taste good.  So all’s well that ends well.

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Recipes and links about kumquats:

The New York Times: The Way We Eat

NPR: Discovering The Sweetness of Sour

White on Rice Couple: Homemade Kumquat Marmalade with Brie Cheese

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