Archive for March, 2010

A marmalade quest, Part Two

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Now that I’m back in London I’ve managed to collect more empty jars, buy some powdered cardamom from the wonderful spice shop in Drummond Street, and unfreeze a batch of the Seville oranges I put away in January. I am still determined to get the cardamom variety working well, and I owe many thanks in this quest to Dan Lepard, who has a weekly baking column in The Guardian but also turns out to be the patron of The World’s Original Marmalade Festival – and who knew there was one? – and who suggested I try adding powdered cardamom at the end of the marmalade-making process.

Once I’d got a good set with the new batch of marmalade I took the pan off the heat, let it cool for a few minutes, and then stirred in one teaspoon of powdered cardamom for every 500 grams of Seville oranges. I also added a tablespoon of orange flower water for every 500 grams of oranges, because I’m still trying to replicate the excellent Arabica marmalade that inspired all this.

And the result is very good indeed! I am not completely convinced that the flavour is as good as the Arabica Seville & Cardamom marmalade – the cardamom level works very well but the marmalade flavour doesn’t seem to be quite as rich or intense as my memory of Arabica’s, which is frustrating. However, I still have 1.5 kilos of Sevilles in the freezer so I can try again in a couple of months when I’ve built up another supply of jars. So I’m still thinking how to get my final 2010 batch absolutely perfect …

And in the meantime I can admire these.


Swimming through time

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

When I was on Waiheke Island last year I found my grandparents’ grave in a local cemetery: I hadn’t known they were buried on the island so that was quite a discovery. I was too young when they died to have anything but the haziest memory of either of them, but the connection feels significant to me because I love the island so much, and have such a powerful emotional attachment to it.

This year I’ve made another discovery: a photograph of my mother and her sisters in bathing costumes, in a display of old-fashioned swimming gear in the local museum. I noticed the caption with their family name before I recognised any of the people in the photo, but I think I’d have known my mother, even as a little girl, because she looks so like my sister Brenda did at the same age. Seeing the photo is like looking into another dimension; it’s a curious (and slightly spooky) experience to come across something like this.

I took a photo of the photo, and here it is. My mother’s the one at the front on the left, and her sister – my darling Aunt Thora – is on the right. I think their older sister Roma must be the one behind my mother, and one of the adult women is probably their mother although I don’t know which one. Aren’t the costumes extraordinary? Less is so much more for swimming in the twenty-first century, but back then (I’m not sure when: maybe the late 1920s?) the more you wore the better, it seems.