Tuesday 2 March 2010

Z shakes a leg

I didn't mean to make all the marmalade in one go, but that was how it has happened.  Not in one batch, of course, that would have been silly (yes, I am silly, but not that silly.  There are limits).  I used a method I never have before, which was to cook the oranges whole and then cut them up.  It was in the Times, Lindsay Bareham's recipe.  I have a book of hers, which I like very much, so I'm inclined to trust (I know, darlings, it doesn't take much) - anyway, I thought I'd try it, if only to disregard in future.

You'd like a link, I daresay.  I'm not sure if it's okay to quote someone else's recipe, because I've read that there isn't a copyright on them - not on a traditional sort of thing, anyway.  If you can't access it, let me know - I"m afraid I've changed it, anyway. This is it.  I'd advise not adding the sugar when Lindsay does, as if any of the orange skin isn't completely soft and you need to simmer it further, it won't work once sugar has been added.  Also, it seems to me a really messy thing to have the seeds in a bag in with the sugary mixture.  What I did was to cut up the oranges, put the seedy pulp in a stocking and dangle it in the water with the cut-up peel, and then simmer it until I was sure it was all done, then take out the stocking, let it cool a bit, squeeze it, add the sugar, let that dissolve completely and then boil the marmalade until done.

The proportions of fruit and sugar are the same as my usual (Delia) recipe, except for an extra lemon.  She says 10 oranges, but the sizes vary vastly, so I went for a kilo, which happened to be 12 of mine.  There is much less water, but the pan is covered, so it's fine.  It's a good recipe and I'll use it again.  Some comments on the website said that the marmalade was reluctant to set - she said it can take 24 hours, but mine set all right.

While I was doing this, I also thought I'd pinch some of the peel for my gin and vodka.  Unfortunately, once I'd peeled off the, er, peel (with a potato, er, peeler), I couldn't find the bottle of gin that I'm sure I bought before Christmas, though I did find the vodka.  I do think I bought it, but I know we didn't drink it.  Anyway, in the end I looked in the freezer and found the remains of a bottle of gin and a bottle of vodka, not much of either, so I decided to make lemon vodka and Seville orange vodka. It was an ordinary bottle, not a litre, so I had to work out the proportions which, fortunately, turned out to be 140g of sugar, which is just 5 oz.  I can do decimal, but I'll never think decimal and my scales are imperial. I only had the one bottle and a bitsworth of vodka, though two actual bottles, so I'll top up tomorrow.  Then I'll make lemon gin too and compare in due course.

I got a production line going - simmered one lot of oranges in a big saucepan while I was finishing off the marmalade in the preserving pan, fitting in the washing of jars and the potting in between - oh, and looking after Pugsley - and it seemed a good idea to carry on.  I did 4 batches, which is a yearsworth, including some to give away, surely.  It was so successful that, if Al has a few oranges left, I don't mind putting them in the freezer in kilo bagsful, ready to cook if we run short.

All this took several hours, and I'd also volunteered to cook dinner - a deceptively simple number involving leeks, hot-smoked salmon, tomatoes, pasta, crème frâiche and courgettes.  It was all done by 20 to 8 and I was glad to sit down.  My back hurts a bit, I'll stack up the pillows tonight.

After dinner, I checked emails and was shattered to find that a friend is in hospital being treated for cancer.  He and his wife are dear friends, and their son died suddenly, in his mid forties, from an unsuspected aneurism, just before Christmas.  A mutual friend told me.  I phoned Joanne, got the answerphone and had to leave a message.  I'm ashamed to say that I was audibly in tears, which is hardly supportive.  I couldn't help it.  Fine friend I am, though.  Honestly, darlings, useless.


Anonymous said...

Don't say such a thing. Nobody is useless. Helpless we are, but not useless.

Anonymous said...

ANd maybe the gin is in the trunk of a car ... for the next three years or so?

Z said...

Phoning to be supportive and then crying? Oh, Mago, I'm not much good.

I've looked. It isn't there. And (you are far too polite to suggest it, but there are some that are not) I haven't drunk it and forgotten.

DILLIGAF said...

In the course of this post you mentioned vodka and marmalade.

If I wasn't already in love I would be now!..;-)

Z said...

You think, 4D? You haven't even met me yet. Prepare to be bowled over.

Hem hem.

martina said...

Marmalade sounds like a tremendous amount of work. Perhaps a sip or two or three of vodka or gin after making it would be a suitable reward?

Z said...

The fourth batch wasn't potted up until after 7.30 by which time I was tired. Still, I'd been preparing dinner at the same time so was sitting down ten minutes later.

Dave said...

Romans 12: 15. You done OK.

allotmentqueen said...

So, you make marmalade by the cupboardful whilst simultaneously looking after a 4 year old, making orange vodka and cooking dinner. And then an hour after you've sat down to dinner you've already checked your messages, rung your friend, and written this blog posting. And you're recovering from an operation, too. Who are you, Wonderwoman?

Christopher said...

Gin and vodka? Crikey. Of course, it's nothing without a goodly snifter of whisky to dilute it.

Otherwise, I wonder if you - or any reader - has had the disturbing experience of phoning someone who's been recently bereaved only to find that the voice of the departed is still on the answerphone? It can really be quite distressing.

Blue Witch said...

The pressure cooker method I mentioned is exactly like this, only you cook up the whole oranges (1kg) and lemons (3) with a pint of water in a pressure cooker for 10 or 15 minutes, then depressurise, pop into a bowl, quarter fruit, remove pith and seeds back into the pressure cooker, cut up peel into strips, repressurise the pulp with another pint of water, strain through a sieve, then boil in a normal jam pan with 1lb sugar per pint of liquid/peel strips (it sets almost instantly).

Cuts an hour at least off the process for each batch, and you can do pressure cooking/saucepan boiling simultaneously (ie 2 batches at once).

It also saves a lot of steam and smell (I'm not partial to seville cooking smell) in the house!

I once made 8kg of oranges into marmalade in one day this way.

Z said...

Thank you, Dave. Not that I know what Romans 12:15 says. I don't remember the Bible by chapter and verse, though I know people who do, of course - most of them are clergy.

No, no, AQ, I had several hours to do it in. And at least I slept much better last night, so it evidently did me good.

The thing is, I'm terribly lazy and I have to work efficiently so that there's time left to lie around doing nothing.

I wouldn't abuse good whisky by putting things in it, Christopher, which I would only ever dilute with water.

I haven't had that experience - I find my own voice on the answerphone when I phone home quite disconcerting enough. That would be awful - but how distressing, also, for the remaining partner to have to delete the voice. Better in the days when we used a tape which could, at least, be taken out and saved.

I find it so surprising that the oranges cook in 20 minutes. BW, when it takes 2 hours in an open pan when they're sliced up. I'd always been put off the idea of cooking them whole as I thought the cutting up would be so messy, but it's fine.

It was lucky I got the oranges when I did, because Al has sold out today.

Z said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Z said...

Damn thing. I went away for 5 minutes and it hadn't published. So I thought I'd forgotten to do it.


Dave said...

It says: 'Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.'

Z said...

Thank you, Dave, how apposite and comforting.

She phoned back this morning and we both kept it together very well.

Blue Witch said...

That's the joy of a pressure cooker... cooks beetroot in the same time. And pulses and beans in a fraction of the open pan time.

Z said...

I used to use my pressure cooker until I had an Aga, but I got out of the way of it. Actually, I have found it now, but not the weight.

It's that the oranges cook in 20 minutes just in simmering water, not in a pressure cooker, that puzzles me - or rather, that it takes 2 hours when shredded!