Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Oranges of Wrath.

When the first one hit, it was 2:37 in the morning. A noisy thud as deep and reverberant as a footfall shimmied across the ceiling of the bedroom where, moments earlier, my husband and I had been peacefully sleeping. 'Ohmyguhhwhuzzafehh,' I believe were my exact words as I jolted awake, certain of home invaders or earthquakes (in Phoenix?) or worse. I shook the sleeping man next to me. 'WHAT. WAS. THAT??' I moaned, having regained the powers of normal human speech. Sort of. 'Orange,' he mumbled. 'I think it was' And then rolled over and resumed his normal, non-paranoid slumber, so recently interrupted.


The oranges.

Like most of the residents of my sprawling, sunny Phoenix suburb, we have citrus trees. Not quite so many as when I first moved in (a murderous combination of laziness and neglect having killed the key lime tree, and a very intentional hacksaw having cut down one grapefruit tree in its prime), but still, we have two grapefruit trees and one very prolific orange tree. The orange tree is located directly outside of our bedroom window, close enough that the bare tips of its branches often scrape the windows horror-sound-effects-style on windy evenings, and also close enough that overripe, unpicked fruit often tends to drop onto the roof. As in, the roof that is part of the ceiling that is right over our heads while sleeping.

The oranges first start to appear ripe around Christmas, but after a few years we know better than to be fooled by their initial orangey blush. They're still tart until at least a month later, when in late winter/very early spring they start to overripen, sweeten, become unspeakably delicious. They sag voluptuously on their branches in a 'hey sailor' kind of way, heavy with juice, just begging to be picked. Finally, around this time every year, they begin to drop. If they don't fall onto the roof with a terrifying sound, they drop into the yard below with a mighty THWACK, sinking into the backyard 'compost' that is a combination of shade-encouraged mud, rotten orange leaves, and dog doo. They are huge, at least the size of two fists clenched together, gravity-bound juice missiles of destruction. And they scare the hell out of me when they fall on the roof at night. At the very least, it's a waste of delicious fruit, at most a terrifying sleep-interruptor that will rot in the yard (and draw the scourge of Phoenix--roof rats) if left to its own devices.

Last night, I was curled up happily in bed devouring a magazine when just outside my window I heard no less than three fall heavily into the muck below, one at a time.

I fear for my safety. These oranges may be trying to kill us.

Dear readers, we need orange recipes, and we need them stat. What, besides maybe just gallons of delicious hand-squeezed juice, can we do to combat the Orange Menace?? Recipes welcome.


  1. Pan seared scallops with ginger, lemongrass, and supremes of orange. Simple and exquisitely delicious. Use some of the OJ to make a quick pan sauce. (Jeff Pierce)

  2. make some yummy marmalade and ship some to us! rinds/peels and all. (angie & tim)

  3. I'm jealous!!

    Marmalade? Anything you can make with lemons, like lemon bars, lemon curd, etc.? Are there any sort of orange cakes out there? Orange pies? Orange cookies? Cocktails made with orange juice? Could you freeze the orange juice so it would last longer?

    That pan seared scallops recipe sounds amazing.

  4. I'd say get yourself a bottle of brandy, juice those oranges and top off with club soda. Then that scallops recipe sounds really good. --jom

  5. YUM!!! I love oranges! I live in Florida..we have a lot of citrus trees here...but none in my backyard :(