“Shut the door!”

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    Standing in front of the fridge with its door wide open to cool off was perhaps the most sought-after, most pre-planned of all nuisances that I ever committed every summer as a child. Every kid who had a fridge did that.  They still do – my little nephew does, I hear. With air conditioning still a rare luxury back in the 80s, the fridge worked best. The cold draft was like the breath of heaven. It was like diving into an oasis after travelling a thousand miles under the sun over a hot sandy desert for 30 days … you must be getting my idea by now.

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     But this was not such a good idea for all the fridge’s contents. It was an even worse idea if there were to be a power outage shortly thereafter – a daily occurence in West Bengal. No matter how sneaky I had tried to be Ma always found out … always. The condensation on the bottles placed inside the fridge door gave her a clue.

In the fridge door there also used to be another guilty pleasure:  a 70 ml bottle of Kissan’s Orange Squash. The plan had always been to grab the bottle of orange squash, another bottle of cold water, and some ice.  When I finished bathing in the cool drafts, I’d plan to make myself a cold cold orange drink – or maybe two. Those bottles didn’t last very long. They were a summer-time commodity around the house and no summer was ever complete without them. I think I abused those bottles a bit. I was quite hooked on that drink – so was every friend I knew.  Needless to say, our parents grew weary of replacing them.

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     Not a summer goes by without me thinking about those bottles of orange squash from Kissan. Always there on the fridge door nestled next to the bottled water. I miss doing the misdeeds and pouring myself an orange squash to quench my thirst. A few weeks back I found Saira standing in front of the fridge with one of the doors pried open. On tippy-toe she was trying to fish out something. A reflexive, “What are you doing, Saira?” came out of me without even thinking, which made her quickly close the door and run, protesting over her shoulder, “nothing!”. There’s no orange squash for her to fish out, and neither was she cooling off – she was just being an imp. I wished that tall bottle of orange squash from my childhood had materialized in the fridge door. I wished I could make some for the both of us and sip it silly until the last drop.

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     Since what I was looking for was nowhere to be found in St. John’s, I decided to find a recipe and make my own. When I went to buy the oranges and saw the kumquats, I had a change of mind and bought them instead. Kumquats are packed with a fabulously intense citrusy flavour.  They were just right for what I was dreaming of.  So here it is, kumquat squash that you can enjoy in any way you please. They make great effortless drinks and they are also great over shaved ice eaten as a slushy.

All this nostalgia got me thinking and pining for more. Another favourite childhood drink was rose syrup mixed with cold milk – now I can’t wait to experiment with a recipe. I’ll have to wait for the roses to bloom for that!

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KUMQUAT SQUASH

Makes: 1.5 cups

Ingredients:

  • Kumquat: 1 cup sliced
  • Fresh Orange Juice: 250ml, about 5 oranges
  • Fresh Lemon Juice: 150ml, about 2 lemons
  • Sugar: 1 and 2/3 cups
  • Water: 1 cup
  • Orange food colouring(optional): a few drops to your liking

Method:

  • Zest the oranges, then juice them. You Set both aside.
  • Juice the lemons and set aside.
  • Slice the kumquats and take the seeds out.
  • In a saucepan add all the ingredients except for orange juice and colouring and bring to a boil.
  • Once boiled, reduce heat, cover and let boil on low till the kumquats are completely cooked.
  • Turn off heat and add orange juice and food colouring, stir to combine.
  • When cooled, strain the mixture through a medium sieve and store in a sterilized bottle.
  • Refrigerate and use within a month.
  • To make a drink: pour desired amounts over ice and cold water.
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38 thoughts on ““Shut the door!”

  1. I remember those days when the fridge was the only way to cool down. I got my tongue stuck a few times trying to lick the ice from the internal pipes lol this squash looks delicious, I’ve never tried kumquats before

    • Now that I have a two year old I realize how important it was for me to do things like that. They make fabulous memories. You will love telling your kid about your tongue getting stuck to the freezer pipe…and laugh together!
      You must try kumquats. Their skin is what you eat and throw away the insides. Very nice! 🙂

  2. Those are lovely memories and what a gorgeous drink! Love watching recipes evolve depending on what’s in the store, what the cook feels like doing, etc. And it’s also amazing and very cool that we can connect with the past by recreating favorite food and drink. Wonder what Saira will make one day to remind her of her mom?

    • Oh Liz, I stopped for a while after reading your comment. What will Saira make to remind her of me? It’s such a beautiful thought. That moment in time is not here yet but already so precious. She is my little kitchen helper so I’m hoping there will be many ‘food’ memories for her to cherish.

  3. Yum, this sounds delicious! I love kumquats also; I often make kumquat jam when my workmate gives me a bucket load in Summer! Haha… I did exactly the same thing with the fridge. I used to stand there with my head right inside (half shutting myself in) until mum came to find me and pulled me out! It’s a shame (well, for us fridge dwellers!) that most fridges are made with the beeping ‘door sensors’ these days 🙂 Thanks for the gorgeous post xx

  4. Oh Debjani — my mom used to make orange squash just like this when I was small. A friend of hers who lived in England learned to make it from an older lady who had lived in India much of her life. Now unlike you there wasn’t a real need in Newfoundland for much “cooling” courtesy of the fridge door but I too abused that orange squash. What I wouldn’t give for a drop — must look for the recipe I am sure that my mother has it poked somewhere.

    • It is so nice to know that there are people who share the exact food memories of childhood even with being continents apart. It’s it wonderful? I always knew orange squash was a very Indian thing. I hope you find the recipe because that would be the absolute original and I would so love to make the original version. I hope you find it. And I hope you get to taste it again! 🙂

  5. Such a cute story & lovely post. 🙂 And a wonderful idea for kumquats!

    I made kumquat marmalade recently and almost posted that recipe today (!) but ended up saving it for next Thursday. I will definitely try this, too; it looks so delicious and refreshing.

    • Thank you Allison! The left over from the squash after it was strained is almost like marmalade. I had some of it on toast and was wondering about using it to top of a cheesecake. Kumquats are so so good. I love em and I’m glad you do too! 😀

  6. I am absolutely obsessed with kumquats — they are so tart, tangy and just plain adorable! I’m also in serious need of a cool-down drink as we’re experiencing a little heatwave here in Oregon. Thinking this (with maybe a splash of vodka) would be perfect!

  7. Just a perfect post – the pictures, the story and the recipe. I can’t wait until summer actually gets here in Victoria, so I can try this. Thank you for the great ideas.

    • We’ve had rain and fog, and fog and rain, and some more drizzle. I wonder if there will be a summer at all this year. Depressing. But any excuse I get to pour me a drink, I do, sun or not. 😀 I hope you make this and I hope you enjoy it! Thank you for stopping by and your kind words.

  8. Such wonderful memories – thank you for sharing them; I have never heard of Orange Squash but am excited to Google and read more about it. I will also be buying some kumquats very soon! Your ideas are always so unique and inspirational!

  9. Pingback: Kumquat Cardamom Marmalade | spontaneous tomato

  10. A beautiful little recipe with a wonderful memory of your youth. I love the nostalgia and yes, it reminds me of many things which I enjoyed as a kid, hanging out & drinking ginger beer come to mind.

    Looks like a very delicious summer ahead for you and the loved ones!

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