It sounds as though just about everyone in the country is dealing with extreme cold today. All of the public schools in the state of Minnesota are closed and residents are urged not to venture outdoors unless absolutely necessary.
Well... it's necessary. The Frenchie that resides in my house still wants to go outside. Getting dressed for the cold takes longer than the time we actually spend in the -21 degrees. Under any other circumstances, Pipi would be embarrassed looking like this, but today, she's good with it.
When I'm not bundling up to take my Frenchie outside, I've been repairing a rug that was brought to me a few weeks ago. I put it aside during the holidays, but now have the time to replace the felted, fat, wool, chunky "threads". Apparently, people that repair/restore handmade rugs and manufactured carpeting locally are now a rare commodity. My name has been circulated throughout the Twin Cities as one of those that still works on Oriental piles and flat-weaves and damaged carpeting. I've become rather selective with the jobs I accept but could not refuse this rug made in the Netherlands. The felted wool pieces were ripped out by the owner's German Shepherd puppy. It is unlike any rug I have ever worked on before. I love walking across it with bare feet!
And... I've been cooking. I pulled a large ham from the freezer that I never got around to baking during the holidays. I made it last night and served it with a broccoli-cauliflower gratin, roasted fingerling potatoes, and this Orange Salad with Vanilla Bean and Rosemary. Come this time of year, I crave citrus. I devour clementines one after the other, eat grapefruit for breakfast, and guzzle fruit juices. These refreshingly-sweet orange slices with vanilla bean seeds and rosemary are a perfect pairing to a salty ham.
Oranges with Vanilla Bean and Rosemary
• 8 Cara Cara Oranges (or a mix of Cara Cara and Blood oranges)
• a generous 1/8 cup sugar
• 1 vanilla bean
• 2 tablespoons chopped, fresh rosemary
1. Using a sharp knife, cut the peel from the oranges. Slice the oranges into 1/4-inch thick pieces and place in a large bowl.
2. Place the sugar in a small bowl. Slice the vanilla bean down the length of the pod. Scrape the inside of the vanilla bean with the tip of the knife to remove the seeds; add to the sugar. Using the back of a spoon, press the vanilla seeds into the sugar until they are distributed evenly throughout. Pour the sugar over the orange slices. Add the chopped rosemary; stir gently to combine.
3. Refrigerate for one hour before serving.
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