Orange Marmalade

February is traditionally marmalade making month.  I´m a little behind this year, and hope this recipe doesn´t reach those of you, who want to give it a try, too late.

First of all though, I´d like to say a big thank you to two fellow bloggers who very kindly nominated me for awards.  Waterfalls and Caribous chronicles the adventures of a young couple travelling the world.  They´re currently in South Korea, and if, like me, you have never been to a Love Motel (it´s not rude, I promise!), click here. Thanks guys for the Versatile Blogger Award, and here´s my previous post on that if you want to check it out.

The lovely Alli over at Pease Pudding very kindly awarded me the Liebster Blog Award. If you haven´t visited this great blog yet, do pop over, it´s written by a lass from Northern England now living in beautiful New Zealand. Thanks Alli, and if you missed it, here´s where I share the love.

Last year I posted a more traditional way of making it, this year I´m using a slightly quicker method (no hand chopping and a quicker set), although marmalade making from scratch is a fairly lengthy, but rewarding process.

For the other method, click here.

Ingredients

  • For every kilo (or just over) of oranges, two kilos of sugar and 1.25 litres of water and one lemon
  • The biggest, heavy based, saucepan you have
  • A wooden spoon
  • A couple of large jugs or bowls and a fine sieve
  • About 6 regular sized jams jars and lids per kilo of oranges

Start by washing and drying the oranges, and lemons and putting them in the biggest saucepan you have and covering them with water.  You will now bring to the boil and cook gently until softened.  Unless they are tightly packed they will probably float, so just turn them around in the water every so often. This will take about an hour and they are ready when you can easily pierce them with a skewer.

Remove the oranges from the liquid (don´t discard it) and when they are cool enough to handle, cut them in half and scoop out the flesh, pips and pith and place into the reserved liquid.  You will also probably need to cuts the skins into quarters and with a knife or spoon, scrape off as much of the white pith which still clings to it.  This is important as it will give you that precious pectin which will make your jam set. Put the two halves of each lemon in with the pulp.

Now bring the liquid with all the pulp and pith to a boil and using a potato masher, press down on the pulp as it boils. Leave it boiling gently for about 10 minutes and press the pulp a couple of times during this period.

As this is boiling you can process the skin – either by hand into fine shreds, or in a food processor into tiny chunks.

Now strain the liquid from the pulp and keep pressing as you pass it through the sieve to get any last drops of pectin out.

Put the liquid back into the pot, add the sugar and the chopped orange skin and cook gently until the sugar has dissolved.  Now bring up to a quicker boil until it reaches setting point.  You´ll find this happens quite quickly with this method, and if you like a thicker set marmalade, cook for a few minutes longer.  Personally I like a softer texture – the choice is yours.

Once it is ready, leave to cool slightly for about 10-15 minutes and to allow the shreds to settle, then pour into sterilised jars, seal and wait for them to cool before labeling (if you do this). Now enjoy the wonderful smells of oranges which will still fill your house and cut yourself a lovely slice of bread to enjoy the fruits of your labours.

Spree has also made the most of the lovely oranges around at this time of year. Check out her beautiful rhubarb and orange jam.

Many Reasons to Give Thanks

Well, what an end to the year we´ve had here Up The Mountain.

First of all, young Master Alfi, shaggy pup extraordinaire, runs under the wheels of Fish Man´s Van, but you´ve heard all about that already.

This was followed by a wonderful couple of days over Christmas with my parents, Big Man´s family, and way too much food and drink.

Then the first little disaster struck in the form of a terrible stomach virus which we are all still struggling to recover from today.  Hey ho, at least we didn´t put on weight and I still have a larder full of goodies to see us through a few weeks.

The most dramatic turn came on New Year´s Eve when my dad got taken into hospital suffering from a lung infection.  It was all rather scary for everyone, but after an entire day on drips and antibiotics he brightened up immensely and was allowed out, but only under condition that he took things quietly.  Supper was boiled rice and broth for him, and we officially declared 2012 at about 10pm when we ate our grapes, banged a saucepan with a wooden spoon and tucked him and my exhausted mum up in bed. Am giving huge thanks that it was quickly sorted and he is now on the mend.

 

At midnight, Big Man and I quietly celebrated again, so hopefully we´re due a double dose of good luck this year as we each ate 24 grapes that night!

Master Alfi then took a little turn for the worse, but now seems to have perked up.  Phew…not a few days I am likely to forget in a hurry.

All the drama-ramas aside, we did have a lovely time together and had plenty of fun too.

And awards….well, I was stunned and grateful to be given so many lovely awards over the Christmas period.  Time now to “say thank you nicely” as my mum taught me to do.

First off The Versatile Blogger Award.  Sandra and Kathy, two friends separated by many miles awarded me this, thanks ladies! Do check out their blog – I know you´ll love it.  The lovely Antoinette, otherwise known as Spree also awarded me the VBA – what an honour!  I´m still a fairly new reader of her blog, so join me in discovering all her wonderful posts. And this where I now have to make an embarrassing confession.  I was also given this award by 2 or 3 other blogging pals.  Sensibly I wrote the names of my kind awarders down on a piece of paper.  You know where I am going with this don´t you?  In a fit of Christmas helpfulness, lots of wrapping paper got thrown on the fire.  I can only think that this was the destiny of my list.  I am very ashamed that I can´t say a personal thank you to the very kind folk who nominated me…but to each and every one of you, I am humbled and grateful.  Thank you.

As I think I am already dumping a load of information on you, check out my previous answers here.

Now we come to the Reader Appreciation Award, passed on to me by ChgoJohn, surely a long lost Italian cousin.  Thank you John…you know I love your blog and am dying to pop on over one day and sit down with you and Zia and tuck into a plate of pasta and have a game of cards over a bottle of wine!

The “rules” of this award are posted here, but I am going to break them! I can´t pick out 6 people – far too few!  But I have updated my Blogroll finally and say that each and every one of you on there is deserving of this award in my (not so) humble opinion.  Yay – let´s party and celebrate!

I wanted to end with a chuckle, so as we haven´t yet got to the Christmas celebration of the 3 Kings on 6th January, have a little read of this story which relates the adventures of my very first Christmas out here with Big Man.  Thankfully, it was a little less full of drama…

My love and good wishes to you all, because without my readers and commenters I´d just be talking to myself… and that´s not always a good thing!

Thank You!

I was very happy and surprised to find the other day that Olga over at Self Expression http://olgaselfexpression.wordpress.com/ had awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award. Now, before I go any further I have to apologise as I have an enormous problem inserting links.  I have learnt how to do it now, but for some strange reason my laptop won´t let me do it in a “pretty”way. Sorry folks, I´m clearly not as versatile as I should be.

Anyway, back to business.  Olga comes from Ekaterinburg in Russia and teaches English.  I enjoy her blog mainly because it´s so different from many of the others that I read. She is interested in psychology and many of her posts reflect this.  Olga also includes guests blogs and it´s good to read about things which make me sit back and reflect for a while.  I thoroughly recommend that you pop over there and pay her a visit. Thank you Olga for the award, am feeling happy and humble!

So, it seems that I am asked to tell my readers seven things about myself that they may not be aware of.  Presumably something which they will also find interesting…hmmm, that´s a tricky one.

  1. I am left handed.  Perhaps not so fascinating for most people, but any lefties out there will understand the daily struggle  with ordinary things like knives and scissors that we face.
  2. I want to learn to play the guitar.  I have a guitar, I have the books, I even have a little plastic picky thing called a plectrum.  I just can´t seem to settle down and get to it.
  3. I am interested in tracing the history of my family. I got as far back as a 7 times great grandfather who was a humble farm labourer in Gloucestershire in 1787 but have hit a wall.  It´s interesting to look at conditions in the times of our ancestors and to imagine the lives they led and the hardships they, undoubtedbly, endured.  And then to feel grateful for all that we have now.
  4. I have “done” the Sydney Harbour Bridge Walk. When my best friend and I turned 40, we went round the world for three months.  What a trip!  A few days after my birthday we treated each other as a gift, to the bridge walk.  We were at the top as the sun went down over the city and the group we were with sang Happy Birthday to us.  One of those amazing, once in a lifetime moments.  I was very lucky. Apart from the awful grey boiler suit I had to wear and the lamp strapped to head.  I looked like a large illuminated sewer pipe.  

    If you look really, really closely you´ll see a group at the top doing the walk!
  5. I am easily distracted, although I like to think of it as being very good at multitasking.  Since starting to write this post I have done a machine load of washing, emptied the dishwasher, made jam, sorted out my car insurance, fed the dogs, and dug out some material I want to turn into a tablecloth.  My life is like this -I love to have several projects on the go at once and am already planning the next before I have finished the one I am working on.
  6. I confess that I don´t really like Flamenco singing.  “What a heathen” my new Spanish family and friends think.  I have tried and tried, and whilst I enjoy the clapping and stamping and dancing, I just can´t learn to love the wailing and sobbing that goes with a “good” fandago.  Sorry, I guess that´s the Brit in me coming out.

    Our beautiful niece Fátima (r) and her friend, also Fátima, ready to dance!
  7. My favourite book of all time, and which I have read over and over again is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.  I studied it at the age of 16, fell in love with it, and the passion has endured.  Sigh!

With this award, also comes the pleasure of passing it on to others. Now, I haven´t been blogging for that long, so haven´t yet had the chance of building up a good collection of “Virtual Blogging Pals”.  Also, my dodgy laptop won´t let me be too creative in naming them, but I´ll do my best.  Some of the blogs I love to read have already, understandably been given this award (in some case several times) previously – so an honorouble mention for Greg at Rufus´Food and Spirits Giude http://rufusguide.wordpress.com/ He writes with passion and humour, and damn fine photos, about food and drink.  I think I have already put on a few kilos trying out some of his delicious recipes.  

So, awards are passed on to

Florence over at Florence and Freddie http://florenceandfreddie.wordpress.com/   Florence has a wonderful craft blog and can seem to turn even the most everyday object into a work of beauty.  She takes much of her influence from the Andalucían countryside where she, like me, lives.  I can understand her inspiration, I wish I had her creative talents.

Mandy over at The Complete Cook Book http://thecompletecookbook.wordpress.com/  Mandy has done exactly what her blog says and compiled an amazing collection of recipes from her home country (South Africa) and blended with with recipes, hints and tips from other countries and cultures.  Thanks for making it all look so easy and do-able Mandy.

Trevor over at Wartime Gardening http://wartimegardening.wordpress.com/  Trevor´s blog is a wonderful mixture of gardening tips from a book issued during the second world war to inspire the people of Britain to “Dig for Victory”. He also shows us how he does it himself in his beautiful garden in France and throws in some delicious recipes, using his own or local produce.  This is such a fun blog with loads of inspiration for cooks and gardeners alike.

JamieAnne at A Dash of Domestic http://adashofdomestic.wordpress.com/ She posts great recipes, money saving tips and she´s the kind of person whose blogs always make you smile.  Thanks too JamieAnne for all your lovely comments!

Apparently recipients can do as they wish with the award i.e. accept, ignore, tell us more about themselves..as they wish! I do need to tell them though that they have been awarded it, otherwise this wouldn´t make very much sense.

So, that´s it for now.  Thanks again Olga and now back to the kitchen for me.  Or should I go and do some  gardening, or read a book, or make that tablecloth????!