Of the citrus fruits, oranges are probably one of the most popular. Although they are commonplace now, at one time they were considered exotic and precious. I recall from my own childhood, it was a tradition to add oranges to Christmas stockings. As children we were restricted to one piece of fruit a day because of the cost so a juicy and sweet orange was always a treat!
Oranges and their origin
According to Nuovo, botanists believe that citrus trees are native to the tropical regions of Southeast Asia and have been around for 20 million years. Arab traders first brought them from India and Ceylon (modern-day Sri Lanka) to some of the wealthiest families of the Roman Empire. Groves then appeared in Italy, North Africa, Spain and Portugal until at the end of the thirteenth century, they were bought by a Spanish boat to the United Kingdom. Since then, oranges have evolved from the fruit of European royalty and aristocrats to a kitchen staple for the masses.
Ginger is one of my kitchen staples and I appreciate its versatility as a kitchen spice for both savoury and sweet dishes. Although I have heard many words to describe the flavour of ginger such as “hot, zesty, biting, sweet, warm”, it can generally be relied on to add a spiciness, juiciness and pungency to cooking. Ginger is available in several forms including fresh, dried, pickled, preserved, crystallized, and powdered and can be used in many different ways.
In plant-based cooking, I have come to believe that it is all about the sauce! Previously, the idea of preparing a meal with a sauce would not have been entertained. For one thing, I was haunted with flashbacks from school days and the intricacies involved in making items like a lump-free roux sauce! The whole idea of cooking a sauce from scratch seemed too time consuming and required more energy than I had. However, store bought sauces and dressings can be expensive and, more importantly, there is no control over the ingredients.
When making your own sauces, you decide exactly what goes into it and this was a big motivation when I moved to whole-foods, plant-based eating. Sauces have quickly become a big part of my food preparation and it turns out it does not have to be an ordeal. There are many quick and easy recipes that can be made ahead of time and I now keep a few batches on hand. A sauce can transform any dish from ordinary to extraordinary and with the great variety of seasonings available, the possibilities are endless for preparing new and different creations.