December in Northern Finland. Let’s talk about it.
For the past four years we’ve always escaped the darkest month of the year and traveled abroad, south, either to Portugal or Italy to stay with family and friends and get some Vitamin D. Last year we were in India.
I did spend my first three Decembers in Finland though. The first December I had just moved and everything was so new that the darkness didn’t matter. The second and third winter I had to stay because of my studies. Then the four year break and here we are, December 2020.
One of the many reasons why this particular December turns out to be so frustrating for me is the lack of light. As a photographer who’s determined to shoot solely with natural light, this becomes an insurmountable challenge. I’d spend days and days waiting for the light to come only to see that faint blue twilight disappear and turn into black. Now I altogether gave up the idea to accomplish any work before January and that’s already helped me get rid of a huge burden.
FYI, in Oulu, at our latitude, we get a minimum of 3 hours and a half of “daylight” in December, but since the sun doesn’t rise but a little above the horizon, it barely lightens the sky for a while and descends again into darkness. On the other hand, during the summer solstice we get as much as 22 hours of sunlight, meaning the sky is bright all the time and we have no darkness nor twilight at all.
As it’s probably true with many other people, spending this December away from family is going to be really hard, harder than we’d ever imagine.
How are you planning to cope? Will you use video chats to stay in touch with your family and try to fill the gap between you this way?
Smells and tastes have a very strong power to evoke memories of an event or place. In these days of India nostalgia I made an orange marmalade we tasted for the first time quite exactly a year ago. It is very flavorful as it contains, besides oranges, ginger, cinnamon and a vanilla bean. I’m glad to say that I found the right dose for the additional ingredients so that they don’t overpower the taste of the oranges, but support it nicely in the background.
I like my marmalade to have a chunky texture, so I very slightly blended the mixture to make it come together, but kept the orange peel pieces as they were. Cinnamon and vanilla are optional flavors, but I’d definitely recommend adding at least the ginger as it gives a slight tanginess to the marmalade that cuts the sweetness and enriches the aftertaste.
Hope you’ll enjoy the recipe and please let me know in case you make it!
Ginger Orange Marmalade
- 2 kg oranges
- 30 g fresh grated ginger
- 200 ml water
- 1 kg sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick optional
- 1 vanilla bean optional
- Wash carefully and dry the oranges.
- With the help of a peeler, peel the zest off the oranges' surface, being careful to leave the white part behind. For our recipe we’ll need 50 g of orange zest, but I peeled it all and used the remaining zest slices in cocktails, but you could caramelize them and cover them with chocolate for example or use in many other recipes.
- Finely chop 50 g of orange zest.
- Remove the white part from the oranges and grossly chop the oranges. You'll have about one kilo and a half of orange left at this stage.
- Add to a saucepan the orange zest, the grated ginger, 30 ml of water and 100 g of sugar and cook it in high heat until the sugar is golden. Careful not to burn it.
- Reduce the heat to medium. Add the oranges, the cinnamon stick, the opened and scraped vanilla bean, the rest of the sugar and the water to the pan.
- Cook the marmalade for about one hour or until the orange pieces will start to dissolve.
- Blend slightly with an immersion blender.
- Transfer the hot marmalade into mason jars, seal them and let them cool upside down under a blanket or towel so that the jars will seal properly.
- Store in a dark and cool place. When opened, store the marmalade jar in the refrigerator.