Is there anything better than the taste and smell of citrus on a cold February morning? One slice in and my whole kitchen is instantly filled with a blend of sweet and sour, melding into a zesty combination that is pure sunshine. I have been fortunate for much of my adult life to have fresh-squeezed at the start of my day. Certainly this is a privileged luxury in my northeast corner in winter. For the last decade of my mother’s life, one of her first tasks when she arrived in Jupiter, Florida, each January, was to order a big box of honey-bell oranges and ruby-red grapefruits straight from the fruit grove to be mailed to us. Despite the constant snowy vista beyond our window, this liquid gold is the certain elixir that keeps us believing that Spring will come, eventually.
When I was a whole lot younger, one of my favorite jobs was to stand on a chair so I could reach the counter and mix the frozen blob of concentrate into the water in the pitcher. My mother would hand me a long wooden spoon to stir and stir until this mixture magically became juice. Mostly orange but sometimes grape juice too. By the time I was a teen, a handy new electric juicer had a permanent place on the counter, and a bowl of juicing oranges was always on hand. I watched as this new job became my children’s, when we visited the grandparents. Now they stood on the chair, pressing the halves down and juice up enough delight for the whole holiday crowd. Is there anything so easy or more rewarding to make than juice?
Over the years, my juicing skills have evolved, and so has the equipment on my counter. Grabbing a handful of orange carrots, a red beet, and a big pile of greens can turn even a gloomy February afternoon into a summer garden tour. There are few ways you can mess up juice. Add an apple for extra sweetness, a small piece of ginger for a kick, but other than that, let your own tastes fuel your recipes. In my snow-globe black & white world, every vibrant color pouring out of the juicer is appreciated and visually medicinal. Liquid life right in my kitchen. Seriously, I don’t even mind the cleanup when drinking something so bright and earthy and fabulous energy.
Of course there are those mornings when you can savor every bite of a delicious grapefruit. Maybe even find the time to read the paper while you spoon out and enjoy every sliver. These are the days to make those tasty moments happen.