Friday, January 29, 2010
Making marmalade was an annual event in our house when I was growing up- the scent of it cooking holds all sorts of memories as a result. My mum used to joke that it was in her marriage contract to make it and back then I think my dad was about the only one who ate it. As they've got older, some of my siblings have developed a taste for it and in some cases make their own. I still don't 'get' marmalade but have married someone who does, so I thought this year I should give it a go.
Funny thing about Seville oranges- some family friends who have moved to Spain tell us that over there, where this sort of orange grows, and falls off, trees everywhere- in the streets, in town squares, in people's gardens- you can't actually buy them. They're regarded more or less as a waste product so unless you have your own tree- no marmalade! I think they've found some friends with trees in their garden to supply them, although those friends think our friends are mad to want them.
Anyway, having got hold of the requisite oranges over here easily enough I was very happy to have use of what I'd previously regarded as superfluous technology in our kitchen, namely a citrus juicer bought by C's Nana for extracting what she terms 'liquid sunshine'. That which normally takes up too much space in a cupboard was an invaluable time and hand saver when it came to juicing all the fruits.
I like the way that with marmalade you use all the fruit- the juice and skins in the marmalade, the pith and pips in a muslin bag to provide pectin. It feels a bit like alchemy, especially when using the good old brass lined 'cauldron' that I still have on loan from the farm (it had been languishing in the cellar under a layer of grime and is yet to be missed). Also in the style of the alchemist, I did struggle slightly to get the end result- setting point and still have my doubts about how solid the final product will be. Still, I'm sure it will taste okay and it does look very pretty, especially lit up by some gorgeous afternoon sunlight- we had snow earlier, so it's a day of weather surprises!
As to the housework...well, some of it was done this morning. Some I'm off to do in a minute. But I did get that last sewing job done- behold the 'Old MacDonald Had A Farm' bag! P was treated to a debut performance from both parents, with Daddy acting as animator to each animal as it emerged from the bag and Mummy joining the chorus from the kitchen as she stirred her cauldron. He seemed quite delighted- if a little bemused. Maybe the marmalade will make more sense to him.