January brings the snow...

Today, to my son's delight, it snowed - and to mine, as it's the perfect backdrop for the first marmalade session of the year. Standing over a bubbling pot of oranges as the snowflakes drift down (covering up all the rubbish in our untidy garden, excellent) is rather pleasing.

After last year's tribulations over recipes, I've reverted to my mother's recipe and am being very particular about following the instructions. I put in less sugar - just 2.5lbs sugar rather than 3lbs to 1.5lbs of oranges - and avoided stirring it as it cooked, as that lowers the temperature, thus increasing the overall cooking time (which is probably why it's often overboiled). I also tested it on a saucer placed in the freezer rather than the fridge. Success - it was setting beautifully after 20 minutes. I recommend this as a good way to spend a snowy morning. It makes one feel very mellow.

This is the batch destined for the World Marmalade Awards in March, so it has to be good - I was awarded 16/20 last year, and am keen to find out whether I've improved at all. It smells heavenly and is a beautiful colour. But those WI judges are tough. We'll see.

Marmalade on film
Spent a nice evening at the Everyman Theatre a few days ago, drinking wine in comfy seats (they are the best cinemas) and watching Quartet with my sister. After enjoying Tom Courtenay playing the perfect gentleman for the first half hour, we were startled when he suddenly shouted 'Bitch! Frog!' at a pretty French girl who works at his retirement home. Maggie Smith's eyebrows shot up. 'She won't give me marmalade at breakfast,' he spat, by way of explanation. 'She gives me [withering tone] apricot jam.'

Later on, Maggie Smith buys gifts for her friends to make up for being a bit of a cow through most of the film. Her present to Tom is a jar of lime marmalade. It is the perfect gesture; by the end of the film they're in love and singing beautiful operatic arias together. Such is the power of marmalade.


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