Monday, 24 January 2011

marmalade and marriage...

Today has been a mixed one... finally got around to cutting up the oranges and making them into marmalade - strangely tedious and satisfying at the same time. I don't have the luxury of a food processor so the chopping all had to be done by hand and it took ages!

Half way through...

Nearly there...

What I really needed to be doing today was making some progress on my dissertation... I have a deadline looming and am really not enjoying being a part-time student at the moment. There is so much else to be doing... but I thought I could think about it while I was chopping and then crack on while the peel was cooking.

Only I kept finding my mind wandering off from 'pulmonary rehabilitation in fibrosis' to the origins of marmalade! I wondered who and when first starting cooking orange peel with sugar and discovered it was so delicious!

So when I sat down at my laptop, I had to have a quick 'distract' to satisfy my curiosity - the internet is a marvellous thing, amazing source of instant information but oh so easy to side-track yourself! Anyway... I discovered that marmalade, of sorts, has been made for hundreds of years - initially with quince or apple and was a thick sweet concoction that was stored set in boxes and served in slices! The preserve, as we know it, was a late 17th century creation - fascinating! Thanks to Baking for Britain for an interesting diversion into the history of marmalade. Actually, I got quite distracted by this lovely site - full of yummy things and a bit of QI style background info to boot!

I have been making marmalade for years - my mum always made it (and still does) and I have never found a shop-bought version that comes anywhere near the homemade for flavour. It has to be said I have had mixed success over the years - it always tastes good but sometimes we have had orangey toffee like marmalade and sometimes you have to have a steady hand and level bread to avoid a sticky lap! Sometimes it has been perfect and I think, at least in part, it has been down to trying to do too many things at once and not really concentrating on the job in hand! This year I followed the method of a colleague from work, who says his 'recipe' (not much of a recipe - no quantities!!) has been handed down from his scots granny. His marmalade is delicious so I thought i'd give it a go - his advice was to cut the fruit up before cooking and then to cook for a loooooong time in not too much water, so that when you add the sugar you don't have to boil for long to get to setting point. You end up with a really bright, fruity concoction.

So we now have 15 jars of sunshine in a jar! Plus a bit - why is there always just a bit more than the number of jars you have warmed? Still that gave us a bit for tasting - and it is yummy, although not the most set ever. There is just something so pleasing about potting up homemade preserves and I love to see them all lined up in my store cupboard! Bit sad I know...

Post-marmalade I did make myself do a bit of research but still have yet to get anything properly down on the page, which is beginning to make me stress. I seem to have lost my motivation for this degree - I have enjoyed the opportunity to stretch my brain cells and I have learnt loads but... right now...? I just want the course to be over with if I'm honest. It won't gain me anything bar the personal satisfaction of the qualification (which is not to be sniffed at I suppose) and I am finding it harder and harder to get into it each time I come back to it. It must be great to be a full time student and be able to be very focussed on your course and assignments (plus have time to BE a student!) - I just feel as though its another thing to squeeze in.

And the other odd feeling today has come from knowing that tomorrow (oh, today now!) - 24th Jan - is my 24th wedding anniversary! Not at all sure how I feel about that! It doesn't seem possible that we have been married that long and have 3 grown up children now but it also feels so very different to the way it did in 1987! At that stage, we had hopes and dreams for the future - now the future feels a very uncertain place. If I'm honest, I'm hoping tomorrow will just come and go without any fuss as I'm not sure I can manage excitement in any great measure. 

Oh and I did manage to squeeze a bit of daisy blanket time in -

Loving the happy feel of this blanket - which might be the best place to end today's post...


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