Ten years ago, we lived in an old wooden farmhouse in Vermont. It sat at the top of a slope that rolled down to a lazy river, and in the middle of the slope was a huge and ancient apple tree, the variety of which we were never able to establish. Long before we had kids, on one of The Author’s birthdays, friends of ours shimmied up the tree and installed a swing for us to play on. The ropes of the swing were about 20 feet long, and because the tree was on a hill, when you swung even a little bit, you all of a sudden were about 8 feet in the air. If you pumped your legs vigorously, enough to get the swing so high that your toes could touch the dangling apples on the branches above, well, you were very high up indeed. It was thrilling, if not a bit terrifying. Continue reading →
With whipped cream, Seville orange curd and cherry compote, what’s not to like? And it’s easy to make!
A couple of weeks ago, one of our former students showed up at the college and started stacking up crates and crates of Seville oranges. Eighty kilos of Seville oranges. One hundred and seventy-six pounds of Seville oranges.
These oranges were free for the asking, and he thought that since we made marmalade for the college every winter, we might want to make a bit more. Let me tell you, that’s a lot of marmalade.
We were a bit daunted, and we immediately set to work on one of the boxes, which yielded 27 litres of chopped oranges, juice and water, later to be boiled with equal amounts of sugar to become quite a bit of marmalade for our store cupboard. Only seventy kilos to go. Continue reading →
I have an old photo of me and my sister taken at the Jersey shore. We are two small children in the surf, holding onto something that looks like a tow rope at a ski slope, and the waves are swirling around our calves. We are lightly browned with shockingly blonde hair, and we are both squinting into the sun with huge smiles of delight.
I don’t remember the particular day that photo was taken, but I do recall other particulars of those summers. I remember my mom driving the three of us to the beach, with my sister and me sweating in the sweltering and sticky back seat of the Karmann Ghia, even with the windows rolled all the way down. I remember also how delicious a picnic tasted at the shore; peanut butter and jelly – despite the inevitable addition of sand – was so sweet and satisfying, potato chips seemed to be made deliciously saltier by the sea air, and fruit always seemed juicer when eaten on the beach blanket within the sound of the crashing waves. I remember reading on the beach, and then when I got too hot, bouncing around in the waves for hours, so that when I finally lay in my bed later that night, my body still seemed to sway with the power of the surf.
I like to believe that entire summers were made up of these moments, but I know that there were also days of idle boredom while Continue reading →
First off, promise me that if you live near me, and your kids are in the twins’ class at school, you won’t make these for a teacher’s gift at Christmas, although I wouldn’t blame you if you did. This is a true something out of nothing dish, a stone soup of candy, if you will, and it is the perfect budget present, one that definitely does not announce that we are living in times of austerity, and one that can accommodate anyone’s Christmas budget. So I’m bagsy-ing it for a teacher’s Christmas gift.
Now that we’ve settled that, perhaps we can talk about why I appear to have a penchant for making things, particularly orange things, in a ball shape. I blame it on Giorgio Locatelli. Every time I dip into Made in Sicily, I find he has a recipe for something that looks utterly mouthwatering and is inevitably round. I have to confess that I find it a very fun shape, and one that can turn any food into something better. Think of meatballs – just meatloaf in a spherical shape. Truffles – ganache in a pleasing mouthful. And now these – old peel that you were going to throw away, turned into a little delight.
This morning, when I woke up to the blustery, rainy and grey weather, I decided to stay in bed a little longer. Then I realised that the clocks got turned ahead last night, to British Summer Time, so in fact it was an hour later than I thought. But the kids were still asleep, the cat was purring, and the Author was gently snoring beside me: so I was staying in bed. Then I let my mind wander, and I remembered these delicious little creamy balls of rice that had been soaking in honey-orange syrup all night. That got me up straightaway.