February may be the shortest month on the calendar, but in Minnesota, it can drag on forever. Add some record-breaking cold temperatures, and the realization that spring break is still 6 weeks away, and you might find yourself getting a little crabby. And in my world, nothing turns crabby around like a good project. If making my own granola didn’t make me seem like the Crazy Lady on the Prairie, this (from Barefoot Contessa at Home) might just seal the deal. I have to admit, I felt a little bit like Diane Keaton’s character in Baby Boom (which, by the way, if you haven’t seen it, it’s worth watching, if only for the spectacular 1980s music, clothing and cliches – and it’s free on amazon prime). The main character in that movie goes a little bit crazy making homemade baby applesauce in Vermont during the winter, and (spoiler alert!) falls in love with the town veterinarian. Because why not?
But back to the marmalade.
I love oranges. I love baking with them, I love eating them raw, and I even love how my hands smell after peeling one. I love a colorful bowl of citrus fruit to brighten up a dreary post-holiday room. I, naturally, bought too many oranges for the crepe party, so these were just waiting to be cut up and turned into something. I don’t have strong feelings one way or another about orange marmalade, though. It’s never been a particular favorite, but I don’t hate it, either. I know some people who make a Spoonerism out of the name and can’t seem to pronounce it any other way than marla-made, which always makes me a giggle.
My late father-in-law loved orange marmalade, though, and so we think of him whenever we see it somewhere. I didn’t know my father-in-law well before Alzheimer’s Disease ravaged his brain, but everything I know about him makes me wish I knew him better, when he was healthy. He was a kind, gentle soul, extremely bright, generous, and devoted to his beloved family. Seeing a jar of orange marmalade on the kitchen table with light, fluffy biscuits will always make me think of him, and sharing some simple moments with him over the breakfast table are some of my best memories with him.
And so, I thought of sweet Clyde a lot as I stirred and cooked and measured. I think he would have liked the result.
I started with this:
And ended with this!
I read the recipe’s reviews online, and while I didn’t have some of the cooking problems that other reviewers had, I did take one reviewer’s advice, which was to use an immersion blender to chop up the larger bits of peel. The fruit would have been sliced thinner if I still had my mandoline, but I gave it away a few years ago because it seemed like an ER visit waiting to happen. So, the immersion blender solved some of the chunky-ness problem that the larger slices of fruit presented. If you don’t have an immersion blender (also known as a stick blender), I highly recommend buying one. They’re not expensive, they don’t take up a lot of space, and they’re super handy for soup, smoothies, purees, etc. Ours was a wedding gift from my cousin-in-law, Wesley, who is one of our favorite relatives (and there are plenty to choose from!).
Now, who has a good recipe that uses a boatload of marmalade?
Sad update: I had this all set up in the fridge, and it looked marvelous. But then I was washing up, and I noticed that part of my candy thermometer had melted off. Into what? I can’t be sure, but I think right into the damned marmalade. This is so not the recipe’s fault – I guess I shouldn’t have held it in there for as long as I did? But it was only for 10 seconds or so at a time – any longer than that, and the steam from the simmering liquid threatened to take off my skin. So, I’m sad to say, that since there was likely melted plastic in this batch, I had to pitch the whole thing. I’m unreasonably disappointed about the whole thing. All that time! All that sugar! All that sunshine-y goodness. Phooey.