Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Some of life's most precious gifts come from the kitchen, in the form of memories and tradition. This story comes from my friend Margo, who writes about the memory of her grandmother's marmalade. Margo shared this with me a few years ago, when I was writing a paper on recipes and family traditions for a course for my masters degree.
"This morning, as I was rushing to get some breakfast for Kassy and myself before the mad dash out the door to daycare and work, I was reminded of one of my earliest, and longest running memories, of Granny. All I did was toast some bread, but when I looked in the refrigerator, I pulled out a pot of marmalade, the one I was given early in the spring, and needs to last me until next January. I don’t think it’s going to make it that far.
Kassy asked me, 'What are you putting on your toast, is it rhubarb?'
'No, it’s marmalade,' I replied.
'Oh,' said she, 'I don’t like that.'
'Well,' I responded, 'I happen to LOVE marmalade, and when I was a little girl, about your age, it was one of the things I remember best about going to visit Granny.'
I did love when we’d go to visit Granny when she lived in Ohio. Part of the magic was probably in part due to the fact that because it was an eight-hour trip, or more, we only got to go for special occasions. I remember being there for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter holidays over the years. As Laura and I reached our teen years, and were a little more independent, we flew out for a school vacation or so.
Granny would always wait up for us, even though it was usually the middle of the night by the time we finally arrived. She still does, whenever someone visits her. So we’d walk in through the kitchen, and past the breakfast table, where the marmalade sat on the lazy Susan. Just the sight of it made me want to hurry up and go to sleep, so I could wake up and put it on my toast first thing in the morning.
I remember eating the toast with marmalade at the breakfast table, I believe there was a bench along the back wall, under the window. The sun would stream brightly in the window. Granny never refrigerated the marmalade, which made it particularly sweet. I would use a spoon to try and pick out all the crystallized pieces of jelly, and they would crunch on my toast (which is another story itself, Granny makes the most wonderful bread) and tasted something like rock candy."
Here's a great recipe for marmalade:
SURE JELL Marmalade
4 cups prepared fruit (buy about 4 medium oranges and 2 medium lemons)
2 ½ c. water
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1 box SURE JELL Fruit Pectin
½ tsp. butter or margarine
5 ½ c. sugar, measured into separate bowl
Bring boiling-water canner, half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot, soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain jars well before filling.
Remove colored part of peel from oranges and lemons using vegetable peeler. Cut into this slivers. Mix the peels, water, and baking soda in large saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the fruit and juice. Cover and simmer an additional 10 minutes.
Stir pectin into prepared fruit in saucepot. Add butter to reduce foaming. Bring mixture to full roiling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.
Ladle immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches; add boiling water if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 minutes. Remove jars and place upright on towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middles of lids with finger. (If lids spring back, lids are not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)
SURE JELL marmalade recipe available at: http://fitdv.myrecipefriends.com/recipe/7852.html?PHPSESSID=e07d6ce31ad3cbc72e4db5363359e847
Photo credit: http://eatscotland.visitscotland.com/Repository/userfiles/orangemarmalade.jpg