Cal­i­for­nia cit­rus vari­eties are so worth the mar­ket­ing hype. Navel oranges in par­tic­u­lar have been the stead­fast fruit we’ve come to rely on for healthy win­ter snack­ing.

Out­side the navel mar­gins are so many juicy cit­rus hand fruits that excite the food world.

Sat­suma man­darins are a Cal­i­for­nia lovely. Believe it or not, they may have first arrived here 700 years ago from Japan via Jesuits who planted them on the banks of the Mis­sis­sippi River in New Orleans.

Grow­ers in the Golden State took it from there. This loose-​skinned, sub-​acid fruit has a zip­per peel and is seed­less. What more can one ask for except the minia­ture size is per­fect for sin­gle serve snack­ing.

Com­pared to oranges in gen­eral, man­darins tend to be smaller in size, have a looser peel, and are less tart. They orig­i­nated in the Far East and were orig­i­nally exported through North Africa, where they were all tagged with the name “tan­ger­ine,” from the city of Tang­iers.

The name “tan­ger­ine” has become less generic and is now usu­ally applied to only one kind of man­darin orange. Retail­ers have come to mar­ket the dif­fer­ent cul­ti­vars by so called brand names. While all tan­ger­ines are man­darins, not all man­darins are tangerines.

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Some of us call our­selves cooks. Oth­ers of us are known bak­ers. In most cir­cles, it’s unusual to find some­one highly skilled at both. When the hol­i­days cir­cle around, even those in the “mar­ginal bak­ers’ cat­e­gory find an excuse to break out the rolling pins, cookie cut­ters, bak­ing sheets and cake pans.

Fol­low­ing a recipe for bars, balls or cook­ies shaped like Santa requires atten­tion to detail. Adher­ing to the mea­sure­ments and direc­tions is so dif­fer­ent from just adding a splash of this or a pinch of that.

Restraint and com­pli­ance seem like strong attrib­utes of a good baker. Pre-​chilling the bowl, but­ter and beat­ers is not just a “good idea”. It turns out, this could be the dif­fer­ence in suc­cess or fail­ure. Who knew? Actual bak­ers who take direc­tions seri­ously? Yeah, those guys.

The angst in bak­ing can be linked to the fact that desserts or sweet treats are always the stars of the show. Any cel­e­bra­tion, birth­day or oth­er­wise, has the pres­sure of deliv­er­ing a spec­tac­u­lar some­thing with can­dles or stun­ning dec­o­ra­tions.

Exquis­ite dec­o­rat­ing skills are no acci­dent. Set the stage for achieve­ment by way of invest­ing in some equip­ment that is easy to work with.

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