The last three weeks were non-stop, and for a moment I thought I’d be too busy to notice 2011 had arrived. But here I am, excited for the new year and the possibilities it holds for my career, making new and enriching old friendships, travel and time in the kitchen. Above all else, I anticipate intense joy (plus one unforgettable celebration) this Autumn when I marry my best friend.

Before looking ahead, 2010 was a big year for us:

+ I worked in my first nutrition-related position as Clinical Dietitian at a local hospital

+ We relocated twice: Corpus Christi to Bagdad, FL, and then back to Corpus

+ We explored Maine’s eastern coast. Breathtakingly beautiful… a seafood-lover’s heaven

+ Dan finished two of three portions for his USMC pilot training; he began the final in November.

+ We became the proud, vicarious parents of TurtleFrancis and Muh-Meow

+ I began some of my own family food traditions

+ Searched, searched and continue to search for employment in nutrition/dietetics.

+ Dan built a wood-burning brick pizza oven on wheels

+ A new blogging acquaintance offered me a contributor position to her online magazine

+ I relished my first cribbage tournament win against him (finally!), then promptly deflated when I fell and fractured my elbow

+ And of course, the engagement

Now here we go, 2011 — poised to be bigger and busier than the last. Before madness ensues, and I turn into an incessant bore of a bride-to-be who can only manage conversations about place settings and flower arrangements, I propose (no pun intended) to begin this blog year with a clean, fresh recipe.

When I tried to come up with something to embody that description, citrus fruit came to mind immediately. Just look at that plate. If that doesn’t scream “fresh and clean,” I don’t know what does. And, since citrus is a symbol of luck and prosperity in the new year (yes, please), let’s kick off with three citrus marmalade.

Whole pink grapefruit, tangerines and lemon come together for a tangy, tart spread perfect on everything from hearty whole grain toast to delicate cream scones. Chunky, as I prefer it, and pretty darn beautiful in a big glass jar on the table as the morning sun shines through. What can I say, I eat with my eyes first.

Marmalade is a preserve made from the citrus juice, peel and everything else in between. You probably knew that. But did you know the peel, pith and membranes that surround the fruit — parts usually not eaten — contains most of the fiber, vitamin A and bioflavonoids (known for antioxidant properties)? Lots of nutritious stuff in this recipe. I even reduced the sugar by a fourth, making it that much healthier.

Excellent incentives to make a batch of marmalade if you ask me. I may be biased, but this is what I’m craving after the holidays. A fresh and clean start to the new year. Cheers!

Three Citrus Marmalade [makes about 12 six-ounce jars]

Printable recipe

I let my citrus slices fall apart on their own during cooking to keep a nice chunky texture, but feel free to chop yours before cooking.

1 pink grapefruit

4 small oranges (I used tangerines)

1 large lemon

Water

Granulated sugar

Pinch of salt

Scrub the fruit and carefully slice very thin with a sharp knife or mandoline, saving the juice. Discard the seeds and the grapefruit core. (It took a while to cut the core out of each grapefruit slice; try using an apple corer to take the whole middle section out while the fruit is still whole.)

In a large measuring cup (4 c or more), measure the amount of fruit and juice you have. Depending on the size of your citrus, you might need to empty the contents into the pot as you measure. Put the fruit and juice in a large, heavy bottomed pot, and add three times as much water. (If you don’t have a large measuring cup, use a smaller one; it just means more emptying into the pot and measuring. But keep track of your numbers!)

Over medium-low to medium heat, bring the pot’s contents up to a simmer. At that point, cover the pot and keep at the gentle simmer for 2 hours. Remove from heat and let stand at room temperature, covered, overnight. (If you’re worried about keeping a pot on the stove overnight, place it in a turned off oven for safe-keeping.)

The next day, measure the fruit and liquid with the large measuring cup, or smaller cup, once more and pouring into a large bowl. Add an equal amount of sugar and a pinch of salt to the fruit in the bowl. (I added 3/4 the amount of sugar initially, then tasted as the cooking went on to see if more was necessary; none was needed.)

Place a small plate in the freezer to later test for consistency — see if the “jellying point” has been reached.

Place the pot over medium to medium-high heat and allow the contents to cook rapidly, in two or three batches, stirring frequently, until the jellying point is reached. Careful the marmalade doesn’t get too hot and burns on the bottom.

To test for the jelling point, drop a spoonful of the marmalade onto the chilled plate. Return to the freezer for 1 to 2 minutes, then gently nudge the edge of the marmalade with a finger. It’s ready when the shape holds. If it is too thin and spreads out, place the plate back in the freezer and continue cooking, stirring frequently. Test every minute or two on the refrozen plate, until it reaches the proper consistency.

When ready, ladle the marmalade into sterilized jars, 3/4 of the way full, and seal tightly. Promptly flip over and let cool to room temperature for several hours. Store in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Adapted from Fannie Farmer

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