As I am fond of saying, the world can be divided into two types of people. And over the years I have divided the planet variously into…
…Talkers and doers
…Those who can touch their toes and those who can’t
…Optimists and pessimists
…Lovers and fighters
…Those who live to eat and those who eat to live
But most recentlIy have added to this list “those who genuinely laugh at corny jokes and those who don’t”
And what gets more corny (or clever) than the one-liner? I came across a collection of nerd-friendly science one-line corny jokes recently and here were some of my favourites (from which statement you can deduce which half of the world I fall into!)
- If you’re not part of the solution… you’re part of the precipitate.
- If the Silver Surfer and Iron Man ever team up, they will be alloys.
- Q: Anybody know any jokes about sodium? A: Na…
- I hate to have to make bad chemistry jokes but all the good ones Argon.
Jokes aside, what’s not to love about science? It explains the world we live in and delights the curious-minded among us. It tells us why the apple falls down from the tree rather than up. It explains why waves crash upon the shore and tides change. It demystifies how a massive aeroplane manages to stay in the sky, supported by something as insubstantial as air. And it can explain why mixing baking powder with something acidic like buttermilk makes carbon dioxide bubbles that keep our baked goods light and fluffy.
Blood oranges have been recorded since at least the 1600s and for centuries their glorious unpredictability remained a mystery. Sometimes the skin has a distinct blush… but the flesh within shows only the merest tinge of red; while other times the skin looks like a perfectly ordinary orance, but the flesh within is a deep crimson. Want to know why? You’ll be pleased to know that science has the answer! Anthocyanin is a red, purple or blue pigment found in abundance in blueberries, raspberries, black rice, red cabbage, beetroot and many other foods that are naturally red, blue, purple or black. Normal oranges do not contain anthocyanins, but the various types of blood orange contain a regulator gene, named Ruby which correlates with the amount of anthocyanin in the fruit and therefore the colour. However, the fruits also contain a molecular marker designed to suppress Ruby and, therefore, anthocyanin content.
However, this suppression can be released under stressful conditions, including cold. So when cold disrupts the molecular marker, the Ruby gene awakens and anthocyanin is produced, giving the blood oranges their characteristic red flesh. The varying levels of cold exposure explains the wild fluctuation in the colour of the fruits. So the anthocyanin pigments, and therefore the crimson colour of blood oranges, are not produced in significant amounts unless the fruit is exposed to cold conditions during its development or adter harvest. No cold exposure means no anthocyanin production and therefore boringly… well… orange oranges. So although blood oranges can be grown in many areas of the world, they are most likely to be exposed to the correct temperature conditions in only a few regions, including Sicily where the majority are produced.
You’re welcome 😉
Although Google tells me that blood oranges are in season from May to December (with different varieties ripening at different staggered times throughout the season), to me it always seems that the blood orange season is depressingly brief. And although you find them on every corner fruit and veg stall in Italy, in their distinctive red paper wrappers, they are something of a specialist item here in the UK, only rarely appearing on supermarket shelves and usually requiring a trip to a specialist greengrocer to acquire. This rather fabulous recipe that helps you make the most of the elusive pleasure of the blood orange season by combining slices of caramelised blood oranges with pan-fried halloumi cheese and toasted pistachios on a bed of tangy salad leaves. It’s both stylish and delicious – and that’s no joke 😉
If you love blood oranges, you will love my other blood orange recipes:
- 1 bag mixed peppery salad leaves I used watercress and rocket
- 2-3 blood oranges
- 250 g halloumi cheese
- 100 g pistachios, shelled
- knob butter
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp olive oil
Peel the oranges, taking care to remove as much of the white pithy rind as possible. Slice the peeled oranges horizontally into slices 0.5cm thick.
Slice the halloumi into 0,5cm thick slices and pat each slice dry on some paper towels.
In a non-stick pan over medium heat, dry-fry the shelled pistachios, turning frequently to prevent catching, until they start to brown. Remove from pan and allow to cool.
Wipe out the pan and over medium heat, melt the butter and add the sugar until it starts to bubble, then lay the orange slices in the pan in a single layer (depending on the size of your pan you may have to do this a couple of times to fit all the slices in). Fry until the orange slices start to caramelise, then turn over and repeat on the other side.
In a second non-stick pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Lay the halloumi slices in a single layer in the pan and fry until golden, then turn them over and repeat on the other side. When golden brown on both sides, remove from the pan and drain on paper towels.
Arrange the salad leaves in a serving bowl or platter, then lay the caramelised orange slices and the halloumi slices on top. Sprinkle the lightly crumbled toasted pistachios over the top.
Dress with dressing of your choice (I make a mixture of olive oil, orange juice, salt and pepper) and serve immediately.
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