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The season for Seville Oranges is over now (it is very short), although I have enough in the freezer for one more batch of marmalade, but it occurred to me a couple of weeks ago that it might be interesting to give it a go with blood oranges, as they're so pretty!


 


It's not as easy as you might think to track down blood oranges, but I managed, it, and spent an afternoon juicing and chopping and boiling.



I ended up with 6 and a half jars.


It's pretty, although not quite as pink as I had hoped, based on the juice.It's also much sweeter than the ordinary Seville kind, so I shall probably use it for baking, or to offer to guests, as I like my marmalade  pretty tart.


 

For comparison - Blood Orange on the left, Seville Orange on the right.


I also bought some pin grapefruit and am planning to make a small batch using those, too, to see how that turns out.

marjorie73: (Default)
It's that time of year again.


Last weekend I was able to buy plenty of Seville oranges, and last Suday I made my first batch of marmalade, yielding around 7lbs.


 



I have another 5lbs or so of oranges in the freezer so will be making another couple of batches over the next week or so, and I am planning to see whether I can find some blood oranges and make a batch with those, too.

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I was supposed to have guests this weekend but sadly they had to cancel, but I have been keeping busy, never the less.

It is marmalade season once again, so I have been shopping, and bought about 6lbs of Seville oranges with a view to making an initial batch or two of marmalade.


It's a couple of years since I have made any - two years ago I was preparing to move house, and had people viewing the house a lot (and I decided that it wasn't really practical to also move loads of jars of marmalade).

Last year I didn't organise myself to do the thing properly and ended up making a small batch using a tin of pre-prepared orange pulp and peel (which, it has to be admitted, works pretty well, but isn't quite the same, and doesn't, at least if you are me, give quite the same sense of achievement!


So this year I am back to doing it the old-fashioned way.

The problem with the old-fashioned way, of course,  is that it does take a long time. Particularly the part where you have to chop orange peel into tiny pieces. (I'm limited, in the size of the batch I can make,  by the size of my largest pan, so I'm only using 2lbs of oranges at a time. However, juicing and chopping 9 oranges (and one lemon) takes time!


However, once that's done, you get to spend the next two hours with the lovely scent of simmering oranges pervading the house!


Then comes the exciting bit of adding lots of sugar, and finding out whether you have misjudged the size of your pan and the extent to which boiling sugar expands...


And a little after that you get to put the marmalade into jars and to admire that beautiful orange-gold colour.


This original batch has yielded about 5.5lbs of marmalade, and I still have about 4lbs of oranges, so should be able to make a couple more batches, when I get time. Meanwhile, my toast-covering needs for the next few months are sorted, and I should be able to share the orangey goodness with my friends.

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It's turned very cold again these last few days,and they are threatening us with snow, although I suspect it may not come this far south. I think we may get it as sleet or rain, instead.

On Friday I went into town and bought around 6 lbs of seville oranges, to make marmalade, and yesterday evening I did the juicing and chopping peel stage of the first batch (using around 2 lbs of oranges, which is as much as will fit into my largest saucepan without overflowing at the boiling sugar stage). By the time I had finished, it was too late to finish the whole process, as the peel has to be boiled for about 2 hours, to soften it, before you add the sugar, so I left it all to soak in water over night.

This morning turned out to be very cold and frosty but also clear and sunny. This is the sight which greeted me from my bedroom window as I made the bed.

As my frien Spacedlaw ommented, ideal weather for a walk. I agreed. I spent the morning making marmalade, but once that was done, and a dozen jars sitting cooling (and, I hope, setting!) in the kitchen, I set out for a walk.
path
It was cold and bright and beautiful, but also very wet and muddy.
stream
And did I mention cold? I took a circular route, and the sun went it when I was at bout the most distant point, so the second half of the walk was both colder and, as a result, brisker, than the first half!
1st batch of marmalade of 2013

When I got home (at which point I had to change not only my shoes, but also my jeans, as they were so muddy) I was happy to find that my marmalade seems to be setting nicely.

And I was very good, and have cleaned up both the walk-related muddiness, and the marmalade-related stickiness, and vacuumed everywhere, so I have a nice clean, citrus-scented house, and a marked feeling of accomplishment.
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It's that time of year again: there are Seville oranges in the greengrocers' shops, it's cold outside, and I am (literally) scraping the bottom of my last jar of 2011 marmalade. So it must be time to make the entire house small of oranges by making marmalade.

Saturday was very cold - it's been a very mild winter so far, and I've only had about 2 days when I've needed to scrape ice off the car before heading into work. There was a very heavy frost, coupled with that very bright, cold sunshine you sometimes get in winter, and a perfectly clear, perfectly blue sky. I walked into town and found that the marmalade oranges were in stock at the greengrocer's (they weren't, last weekend) so I bought lots, popped into the corner shop on the way home for shedloads of sugar, and spent much of Saturday afternoon making my first batch, and much of Sunday afternoon making the second.
1st Batch of 2012 Marmalade!

So far, the first batch is looking good - it's got a nice set, and the peel is well distributed through the jars. Today's batch is not looking quite so good - it looks as though the peel is rising a bit, especially in the fist couple of jars I filled, which means that I didn't leave it quite long enough before putting it into jars, but the taste seems fine, so it's many aesthetic! I am always a little bit worried that I'll leave it too long and end up with a saucepan full of solid marmalade, instead of neat jars full.

I've probably made around 12lbs of marmalade, and have another 4lbs of oranges, (which will make around the same quantity) so will probably do some more next weekend, provided I can source a few more empty jars by then.

Having spent most of the last week eating very dull, not-very-good-for-me meals because I felt too tired to cook properly when I got in from work, I also took the opportunity yesterday to make a big batch of chili / spaghetti sauce, most of which I have frozen, so I have enough for 7 or 8 meals, so the next few times I'm too tired to cook I can have real, home cooked food without having to do any real cooking.

I also renewed my car insurance, which was, as it so often is, a frustrating exercise. My renewal from my existing provider was just under £100 more than last year, for the annual premium. Shopping around, I managed to get it to £45 less than last year (and with a slightly lower excess than the renewal quote, but otherwise an identical policy) - the really irritating part being that this is actually with the same insurer - but even knowing this, they wouldn't price match so it is treated as a new application, not a renewal, and I have to faff around sending copies of my licence and renewal notice. It seems such a waste, and just goes to show how much insurers rely on inertia to take advantage of their customers. I'd love to see an insurer genuinely reward loyal customers, with lower prices for sticking with them, but I doubt it will happen.

I didn't get around to spring cleaning the spare bedroom, which is next on my 'to-do' list, but all in all I feel the weekend has not been wasted, and I shall be able to settle down to enjoy watching 'Sherlock' with a clear conscience, this evening!
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A little while ago I saw this article in the Guardian about The Book Barge, and saw that it would be visiting Bradford on Avon (this weekend) and Bath (next week).


 
as it happened , I had to go over to Bradford on Avon so I had the perfect opportunity to go to see the Barge.

 
I saw on Twitter that owner/skipper Sarah needed milk, so picked up a pint on my way in, then strolled along through the park. On my way, I passed a wedding party, a posh picnic featuring champagne and strawberries, a group of children paddling in the river with a large dog of indeterminate breed, and a cricket match - in fact, practically everything (other than a sudden rain-storm) which you might expect of a British summer!

 
The barge is wonderful - there's an excellent selection of new and used books, plus mugs, cards, postcards and (at least if you turn up bearing milk!) the offer of a nice cup of tea and some banana bread!

 
I left with three new-to-me books, and felt I had an excellent bargain, as Sarah insisted on my having one of the books in barter for the milk (I feel sure I got the best out of that deal!) If the Book Barge goes anywhere near you, go visit it!
 
Oh, and the blackberries? I made another small batch last night/this morning - I ended up with a smaller volume of jelly this time - only one and a half jars, but then picked another couple of pounds of berries this morning, which have now reached the 'hang up to strain for at least 12 hours' stage of the recipe so I should be able to pot this batch 1st thing tomorrow morning.
 
At this rate I may have to bake some scones, soon, in order to have something to eat bramble jelly off!

marjorie73: (Default)
It was very hot over the weekend, and I ended up sleeping badly (not helped by the delightful neighbours who decided to re-ent their favourite rugby passes at top volume in the street until 2 a.m.)

I walked into town on Saturday morning (where I ended up accidentally spending £40 in the bookshop, which I ought not to have done..) and noticed on the way that there were a lot of ripe blackberries in the hedges, although it's pretty early for them to be ripe, so |I decided to get picking.

I managed to get about 3lbs on Saturday (and then a further 2lbs on Sunday) and spent Saturday evening and Sunday morning making some of them into Bramble Jelly - I ended up with 5 jars of jelly (made using 2lbs of blackberries and about 1lb of bramley apples) and I have frozen the other 3lbs of berries, so I should be able to make some more next weekend, when I have time. I'm also considering getting some local honey, and trying a batch using honey instead of sugar (or perhaps part and part). From what I've read, it looks do-able, but may have an effect on how well the jam sets, so a bit of trial-and-error may be needed...

The nice part is that there are a lot of blackberries which are still green, and other brambles still flowering, so there should be berries ripening for several weeks more, and the opportunity to make rather more jelly than I managed last year (when I only made one lot, at the start of September)

I'm also pondering whether to try making some rosehip jam or jelly. I am reasonably confident I can accurately identify rosehips.... In fact there seem to be some ripening alongside the blackberries.

The downside of jam-making is that all these fruits will insist on ripening just when it is really hot, and standing over pans of boiling fruit and sugar is least appealing (at least marmalade season comes in January, when boiling stuff for hours at a time has its own appeal!
marjorie73: (Default)

Most of this week has involved work, which while necessary, yields little in the way of interesting blog material (especially as this  isn't, and isn't intended to become, a Law blog)

However, as the weekend approached things became more interesting. My mother had booked in to do two, one day patchwork workshops just down the road from me, so she and my dad invited themselves asked whether they could come down for the weekend, and I of course was happy to have them.

 

I was able to book Friday afternoon off work, which meant that I could get many of the dull weekend chores out of the way before they arrived, and also to take my car into the garage to have 2 new tyres, tyres being one of those things which cars do seem to need on a fairly regular basis.

All of which meant that once they did arrive, I was able to enjoy their company without having to do much housekeeping.

Saturday was a cold, grey day, with intermittant rain, so my dad and I stayed home, annd read the papers and (in my case) chopped up oranges for a new batch of marmalade
 

In the evening, I'd invited my dad's cousin, who lives in Bath to come over to join us for dinner, so I wanted to make a 'proper' meal  - I made roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and all the trimmings, and then a lemon meriengue pie for dessert, (and drafted my dad in as chef's assistant to help with potato peeling and the like!)

We had a nice evening of food and conversation - at least, I did, and everyone else seemed to be enjoying themselves!

On Sunday my mum was at the second of her two workshops, but it came a beautiful, clear, bright sunny day, so my dad and I decided to go over to Stourhead to go for a walk.
I love Stourhead, and it is always good to see it, and to see it change with the changing seasons. The last time I visited was in October, when the woods were a riot of copper and crimson and gold.

This time, the colours aare much more muted - the beeches and acers are bare, the rhodedendrons and yews have foliage, there is much less variation in colour, although  there are a few trees with vivid red or yellow bark, making them look aalmost as if they are burning.

On the other hand, the naked trees have wonderful skeletons, and there are beginning to be snowdrops under the beeches. We walked up to the obelisk, which is on the South side of the lake- there are views back down to the lake, and  to the huse (which is not open at this time of year) aand then walked  down, and around the lake. There was still frost around where the sun had not yet reached, and patches of ice in the lake, and the smaller ponds, and above it all, a perfect blue sky.
 

I saw a pair of great crested grebes on the lake, who seemed to be doing very well catching numerous little fish, as well as the usual ducks and geese.
 

As much as the walk, and seeing the changes to the place, I enjoyed having the time with my dad, on a one-to-one basis, which tends not to happen very often!
 

Later in the day, we (he & I) ventured up into the loft to retrieve some of the boxes which my sister has been storing there, and which my parents are takng to her, now she has a loft of her own (The boxes were originally in my parents' loft, moved to mine when they moved house, and are now slowy returning to her - althoug I still have 4 or 5 boxes in my loft...)  and also used his cunning little widget to work out where the wires run n my walls, so that I can hang some more pictures without worrying I am about to hammer a nail through an electrical cable, as I understand that that tends to end badly..
 

Then, my mum got home (with more, partially completed patchwork panels to finish at home) and we had a relaxed evening.
 

All in all, a most enjoyable weekend. Although it turned out that I had not got the marmalade quite right, as by this morning it was still showing no sign of setting, so once my parents had left, I decaanted it back into the saucepan and tried boiling it a little more, to see whether that will encourage it to set as it ought. It tastes absolutely fine, so it is really an aesthetic issue, but despite that I hope that it will set this time round.
 

And the books I mentioned?
 

I was lucky enough to win a copy of Martin Millar's book 'Lonely Werewolf Girl', in French ('Kalix: La loup-garou solitaire') when Martin gave away a couple of copies on his blog, and it just showed up. New books are always good. New books which come free from the author are best of all, and what better way to practice my somewhat rusty French than reading such a good book?
 

I also just learned that I won 3 SF novels, trasnslated from Japanese, in a draw run by the Science Fiction Fantasy Translation Awards blog!

Aren't I the lucky one :-)


marjorie73: (Default)

It's marmalade season again, and having bought some Seville oranges 2 weeks ago, I now have both the time, and the energy, to actually make the marmalade (or at least the 1st batch - I have bought lots of oranges this year, so should be able to make several batches.)

 
One of the things about marmalade-making is that while it isn't difficult, it is time consuming. although it does make the house smell wonderful as it is cooking, and for me, it's an evocative scent as it reminds me of my grandmother, who always made marmalade (I never made any, until after she died)

 
This morning, I had some errands to run in town first thing, so didn't get started until lunchtime, and I spent most of the afternoon on it, one way or another. (although this did include a lunch-break and a waiting-for-the-dishwasher break.)

 
Still, by about 5 p.m. all was completed - I have 9 large & medium, and 3 small jars full, (I used 2lbs today, as  that's the right quantity for my largest saucepan) and I have at least 4 lbs of oranges left so should be able to make twice as much more, although I may have to wait until next weekend, as I find I have fewer empty jars than I thought, and the only 2 shops I know of in town which sell jam-jars are closed on Sundays.

 
So, for anyone who fancies having a go at making their own marmalde, this is the recipie I use.
 
 Ingredients
3lbs seville oranges
2 lemons
6 pints of water
6lbs sugar

 
Method

1. Wash the fruit thoroughly

2. Halve the oranges and lemons and squeeze out the juice and pips. Put all of the pips, plus and pulp & pith/membrane which comes away into a muslin bag & tie it up. Leave the bag soaking in the juice for now.
3. Cut the peel up (however thickly or thinly you like your marmalade)

 
4. Put the peel into a preserving pan or large saucepan with the water and the bag of pips & pith. Save the juice.
5. Bring the peel to the boil and simmer until the peel is very, very soft. (it should be soft enough that a piece rubbed between your thumb & finger will disintegrate). This will take up to 2 hours and the amount of liquid will have reduced by around half.(slightly shport time for smaller quantities)

 
6. Remove the muslin bag and squeeze so all the liquid runs back into the pan.

7. Add the sugar and heat gently until the sugar is all dissolved

8. Bring to the boil & boil rapidly until setting point is reached (if you have a jam thermometer, the temp is 105 C / 221 F. - if not, put a couple of saucers in the freezer before you start stage 7, then test by dropping a little marmalade onto the chilled saucer, leave for a moment then push the puddle with your fingernail - the top should wrinkle. If not, boil a bit more and try again)

9. Stir in the juice

10. Remove from heat and remove any scum from the top with a slotted spoon.

11. Leave for 10-15 then stir to distribute the peel and put into clean, warm pots (pots straight out of the dishwasher are fine, or alternatively, wash them very carefully then warm them in a cool oven)

12. Cover the top of the marmalade in each jar with a waxed disc then leave (covered with a clean tea towel) until completely cooled.

13. When completely cool, cover with a cellophane cover and (if you wish) a screw top.

Notes

Obviously you can increase or decrease the quantities, as long as you keep them in proportion. You normally get approximately 1lb marmalade per orange - these quantities will yield around 10lbs of marmalade. - I tend to make it in smaller batches as I don’t have a preserving pan, and find that about 1-2 lbs of oranges is as much as I can do at any given time in the largest pan I have, what with the boiling sugar.

If you want to get fancy, you can add ¼ pint of whisky or of Cointreau at stage 9

If you want, you can add the juice with the water at stage 4 - saving it to the end makes the marmalade taste a bit more tangy, which is why I do it, but you don't have to.


marjorie73: (Default)

So, those of you who follow me on twitter may remember that several weeks ago I bought some Medlars (left) becuase they seemed interesting, and then when I got home I looked them up to see how they should be cooked or eaten.

They are not very attractive fruit. Apparently they were, in medieval times, known as cats arse fruit, (and in French they are cul de chien which is no better)
And, as I learned, you can't use them stright away, but have to wait until they have "bletted" - effectively this means waiting for them to start to rot.. they go darker, and much softer.


I had some reservations, but decided to press on, having aquired the things, so they have spent the last few weeks sitting in  a paper bag in the shed, bletting away to themselves, and today I decided it was time to move on. The most common recipie seems to be for Medlar jelly, so that's what I decided to make, although you can eat them raw, or bake them, or make 'cheese' out of them.

They looked even less appetising when I cut them up: completely borwn inside, whereas the flesh is white (like an apple) before they are bletted, but I did taste one - a rather unplesant 'wooly' texture, but the taste was OK - a bit like spiced apple,.

 
The recipie I used also included apple, and was pretty straightforward - you cut up the apple and medlars and simmer in water until they go soft, then strain them overnight before boiling up the juice with some sugar and a little lemon juice.

 
I ended up wih more liquid than I'd expected (the recipie didn't specifiy, just said to use enough to cover the fruit) so I was concerned that the jelly might not set, but it does appear to be doing so.

 
I haven't tasted the jelly yet, but it looks pretty. Mine is a little cloudy, but I think that is purely aesthetic, and won't affect the taste.  It apparently goes well with game or lamb (as one might use redcurrant jelly) but I suspect it might be rather nice on toast, too. 

 
And on a cold, icy, day there are worse things to do than to fill the house with a warm, spiced-apple aroma!

marjorie73: (Default)

I am currently enjoying my holiday, without leaving home. It's rather restful, especially the total lack of any having to pack or be on time for anything!

 
I spent Monday pottering around at home, doing the stuff such as laundry and cleaning which I normally do at weekends, (having spent this weekend in London and then lazing around)

 

 
Today, I decided to go to Westwood Manor, which is a national Trust property about 4 miles down the road. It was built in the 15th Century with bits added and taken away since then.

 
It is occupied by tenants so only 5 rooms are open - lovely panelled rooms, with plasterwork ceilings -- upstairs in the music room is a 16th century Virginal and a 17th century Harpsichord (plus the harp)

 

 
There were also some panels decorated with the kings & Queens of Engand, in very dark oils on the panels, but sadly I accidentally delted those pictures, so you have to imagine the slightly lop-sided images of Henry VIII and a few others, for yourselves!

 

 
Outside there are some enormous yew hedges - about 7' wide, and in one part cut into a topiary house.

 
Definitely an interesting afternoon!

 
On my way home I stopped to pick  blackberries, with a view to making some bramble jelly.  It is currently in the 'dripping slowly through a bag' stage - tomorrow comes the 'boiling it with sugar to within an inch of its life' stage.

 
And then I finished the day with a nice, slow meal an a glass of wine. I might get used to this hoidaying at home idea!

marjorie73: (Default)
(Originally posted at http://margomusing.blogspot.com/2010/02/in-which-there-is-marmalade.html)

Remember that marmalade I didn't get around to making last weekend? I did get around to it this weekend (Well, mostly)
 
 
The thing I tend to forget, between one year's marmalade and the next, is how time consuming it is.

Mostly the chopping-orange-peel-into-very-small-pieces part, although the boiling of the peel to make it soft takes ages as well, you can mostly go away and let it get on with it.
 
In my case, 'preparation time' also included walking down to the shops to buy another 4lbs of sugar. I did go into the kitchen shop to see whether they had a jam funnel, to reduce the stickiness factor at the bottling stage. I didn't buy one, tho'. Partly because they were a bit pricy, and partly because all three of the shop assistants stood around chatting to one another and drinking coffee, completely ignoring me and 3 other customers, so I felt disinclined to buy lest it encourage them!

Chopping up was a frustrating experience for Tybalt. In his world, the sound of the kitchen scissors must mean that I am trimming meat or cutting up bacon rashers. He was therefore not best pleased when, having made the effort of running all the way downstairs, he found that I was not cutting up anthing edible at all!
Having a short memory (or perhaps simply an optimistic character) He came to check on me several times. each time, he was disappointed anew to find nothing but citrus fruit....
 
Aside from a moment of panic when it seemed the marmalade was going to boil over, the marmalade-making seemed to go well, althoug I shall now have to wait for it to cool to see whether I get a decent set, but it doesn't look too bad so far - as far as I can see so far, the peel isn't rising to the top, which is a good sign.
 
 
I still have about 1/3 of the marmalade to make, but I've done all the chopping - it's just the easy boiling and decanting which still needs doing. That, and working my way through my current jar of shop-bought marmalde, so I can start eating the good stuff!
 
 
And for now, the whole house smells of oranges, reminding me of Laleah, my grandmother. She used to make the marmalde in this family - I never made any until after she died, as I could always rely on her to let me have a jar or two each time I visited..

marjorie73: (Default)
(Originally posted at http://margomusing.blogspot.com/2009/12/in-which-there-is-day-off-and-some.html)

I found out last week that I had a day of holiday left from this year's entitlement, so I booked it for today.

I feel I have used it wisely.

There is, I think, very little which is more pleasurable than being able to lie in bed, and in the smug knowledge that all around you other people are having to get up and go out to work. Not, I hasten to add, that I stayed there all morning, but just an extra hour can sometimes make a lot of difference.

Most of the rest of the day was taken up with various jobs - I went and queued in the Post office to send Christmas gifts to friends and family members: It appears that the last posting date for posting 2nd class post in time for Christmas was yesterday, but I decided to risk it and send everything 2nd class anyway - none of the people I was sending stuff to are young enough to get upset if their Christmas presents are a day or two late, and anyway, I have a vast and touching faith in Royal Mail, and secretly believe that they will get there on time despite the late posting! We shall see.

I also did some shopping (mainly food) and some cooking - mostly the time-consuming stuff for the things I'm planning to cook at the weekend when my friends come to stay. Then I did a second lot of shopping to buy the things I forgot the first time, such as the camembert, which is destined to be studded with garlic, and baked into cheesy submission, and the lasagna dish, as I realised that the only dish I have is fine for making lasagna for one, but that I don't have a dish suitable for making lasagna. Just as well I realised today, and not, say, on saturday morning with a sheet of lasagna in one hand and a spoonful of sauce in the other...

And as it was, after all, my day off, I also found time to watch a little TV (A very old episode of StarTrek TNG, since you ask) and to have a lovely long hot bath accompanied by a murder mystery and and a nice cup of tea.

It didn't snow here, despite the weather forecast. It was however, cold. Tybalt managed to get into my bed, under the duvet (which he knows is not allowed, at least until he learns to wipe his feet first) twice - the second time despite my not only having made the bed, but also most unfairly having tucked the throw in all the way round to stop him... Of course, if he had been paying more attention, he might have noticed that as I was at home, I'd turned the heating on all day, so downstairs (where there are radiators) was much warmer than upstairs (where there are not).

Tomorrow I shall be back at work, and have the questionable pleasure of a meeting with Social Services to look forward to.

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