Saturday, 4 August 2012

With a baby on my hip...

This recipe for mandarinalade popped into my reader from Foxs Lane this week. I knew I had some oranges and ruby grapefruit's deteriorating in the fruit bowl, and I L.O.V.E marmalade so I decided to adventure along into the world of jam making.

I knew because of the piping hot fruit/sugar mixture that would be bubbling away on the stove that I wanted to make this while the baby was sleeping, and having read through the recipe I thought that it sounded achievable. How naive and optimistic am I!? 

I thought about mopping the kitchen floors first, they were feeling a bit sticky under foot, but I just put some shoes on and planned on doing it later. Thank god for my laziness. If you have recently mopped your floors - don't make marmalade. Unless you are amazing at never spilling anything, your floors are going to get juicy and later marmaladey.

I followed the recipe pretty closely, except I had 3 ruby grapefruits and 5 oranges so I added the juice of two lemons and the zest from one. In the future I might just throw the lemons into the mix, it seems wasteful, now, that I just put the discarded rinds in the trash rather then letting it bubble and simmer in the marmalade.  The baby woke up just as I was getting ready to blend my fruit, yay. Not to mention that La La Love Hubby broke my blender in the move, so I had to use my food processor - which is tiny. I had to precut the fruit to get it in the bowl of the food processor, and I had to do it one at a time... Are you starting to see why things got messy... So with a baby on my hip I'm ladling out one piece of fruit at a time, mutilating it chopping it into food processer appropriate sizes and then putting it into the food processor, whizzing it and tipping it into a separate container. Fun... yes? I will make a small note about using a food processor - don't run it for too long, or you'll just end up with pulp. I also held back a ruby grapefruit and orange that I finely sliced to keep more texture in my marmalade.

I measured it out, added the appropriate amount of sugar all with a baby on my hip. I was stirring, patiently waiting for the sugar to dissolve when the baby on my hip decided she was hungry and started trying to claw my top off. So once the sugar dissolved I set the timer to 20 mins, feed the baby and was finally able to pop her on the floor. I was so excited when that buzzer went off to check my marmalade. It wasn't ready... I just let it bubble away some more and checked it 5 minutes later.... still not ready. I kept checking it for the next hour and it still wasn't ready. Not only that, it was starting to get dark! I hastily turned the temp down, but it was too late. My marmalade was dark. 

20 minutes later I put a frantic call in to my mum. She told me to put lemon in to help thicken it (I thought lemon was just for flavour-but there you go, it has a purpose) and I told her it already had lemon in it, she talked about dashing to the store for jam setter... and I envisaged the house burning to the ground in a sticky marmalade mess. She asked how long it had been on for and when I told her over an hour she laughed at me and told me to call again in another hour if it still wasn't setting. Another 45 minutes or so later and my jam was finally ready to be bottled. 

That's right, if it has a lot of liquid (and mine did in order to cover all the fruit) then its going to need to simmer away all afternoon. So my quick project actually took about 4 hours from start to finish. The hardest part was jarring it. I, in a rare moment of thoughtfulness, had a tray I sat the jars on to fill, which caught any slops and spills - of which there were plenty. The hardest part was the baby wanted back on my hip, around the piping hot marmalade I was already clumsily spooning into jars with both hands free. Not to mention the piping hot jars fresh out of the oven. So I did what anyone would do... bribed her with the tupperware cupboard and biscuits. This wasn't working brilliantly so I had to sweeten the deal with music on my iPhone. There was still lots of crying and yelling, and just when I thought I might join in... I was finished. Due to pure exhaustion and a new found hatred of my stove all plans of cooking dinner and doing some baking were immediately cancelled. Mopping the floors - meh. 

I did enjoy some delicious marmalade on toast for breckie this morning - it might be a little dark but it is still scrumptious! And I may mop the floors later today - who knows!

So in hindsight - if you use a lot of water to cover your fruit, expect to be a salve to your stove all afternoon... maybe don't add all the liquid back. I'm not a jam/marmalade expert so I have no idea if this is an ideal solution. Secondly, don't expect to get anything done while your baby is sleeping, it just never happens. Thirdly if you have a lot of fruit/liquid like I did, don't have it on high, your jam may burn or end up going dark like mine did. A medium, bubbling simmer should work just as well. Fourthly - don't make such a giant batch if your the only one in your house who eats marmalade - like I am. If I'm knocking on your door soon you better believe I'm bringing a jar of marmalade with me.

And lastly feel proud of all the things you can accomplish with a baby on your hip. I am woman hear me roar!! 

What things have you managed to do with a baby on your hip? I love seeing your comments. If you don't have a baby and want to know what its like to have one, tie a 10 kilo sack of flour to one arm and go about your daily business. It should give you the general idea.

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