Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Orange & Chilli Marmalade

For our first party in the flat we are having a cheese & wine party - a few difficulties to combat will be the fact we own a total of zero wine glasses and a very limited number of places to park your behind but what I do have is three jars of this very delicious Orange & Chilli Marmalade. 

I have never made a marmalade or a jam before - terrified of how difficult I assumed it would be. This was not difficult - time consuming would be truthful but also very very worth it. Peeling and cutting the pith off 5 oranges was enough to drive me insane. I used just standard oranges you would find in your fruit bowl but I saw in the supermarket yesterday some marmalade oranges which I assume have been grown to be less pithy. Pith, the white stuff on your oranges, will be bitter in your final marmalade so worth trying to get as much off as you can possibly bear - it's worth it I promise.

The original recipe called for a food processor which I own but in the move I have managed to lose the central spindle which means at the moment it's unusable so instead I successfully used a stick hand blender. Don't make my mistake and hand blend this in a white shirt - it will not be all that white for very long!!

Cheese & Wine party here we come!!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
(adapted from Good Food magazine recipe)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

5 oranges
6 red chilies
4 red peppers
900g jam sugar with added pectin
8g sachet of pectin
500ml white wine vinegar

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

1. Peel the oranges and take as much of the pith off the peel as you possibly can. Cut the peel into thin strips (size is dependent upon your preference - mine are quite chunky - like me). Peel as much pith a you can from the orange flesh itself and roughly chop this into medium pieces.

2. Chop and deseed the peppers and chillis and place this into the bowl with the orange flesh. Pulse the mixture until you have a vibrant frothy orange soup - a few chunks here and there won't matter. Pour this into a wide deep pan along with the orange zest strips and the sugar, pectin and vinegar.

3. Heat the mixture slowly until the sugar has dissolved and then bring to a vigorous boil and then bubble for approx 40 minutes. The best way to test if the marmalade is set enough is by placing a small plate in the freezer before heating the mixture and once 40 minutes have gone by putting small teaspoon on the plate. If after a minute the marmalade wrinkles it's ready - if not bubble away for a couple more minutes and repeat. 
(As my freezer is in the garage which is quite some way from my kitchen - I'm not exaggerating I promise - I just did this by eye - it could have done with a few more minutes maybe but it's still pretty good)

4. Allow the mixture to cool for 10- 20 minutes and then ladle (or if you don't yet own a ladle like me use some measuring cups) the mixture into sterilised jars. Store in cool dry environment.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Just a note on sterilising your jars - the best way I found to do this was to wash them in hot soapy water and then put them upside down in an 140°C oven for about 10 minutes.

Monday, 2 March 2015


The first book of my Open University course is all to do with reputations and one of the first question it asks you to consider is "what is a reputation and how is one gained?" We are looking at characters ranging from Cleopatra to Stalin, the Dalai Lama to Madonna - all people with very different reputations.

It got me thinking. Obviously I posted this blog post about my reputation within high school. At a time that reputation was me and that reputation will always be part of me. I find it easy to talk about what some would call "slutty behavior" but that still doesn't mean that I don't judge people for acting in that way. I still judge the girl that said nasty things to me on the bus when I was thirteen as a bully even though she is probably a completely different woman now. I know I am not alone. 

A reputation is hard to break especially without fresh starts - you start to act a certain way because that's how everyone expects you to act. I used to be very shy and when I was with my ex boyfriend I would say that I became even more introverted and I hated it. I'm not that person anymore but confronted with people who only knew me as shy I feel myself slowly sinking into that way of life again. I'm also a very emotional person - my friend will constantly remind me of the time I absolutely lost it at high school - stunning a teacher that could talk the leg off a donkey into silence. It makes me cringe even now but I still manage to lose it sometimes. I still have that same reputation at work - of being emotional, of being difficult. I wish I didn't. If an action is negative it achieves a reputation much quicker than a positive action. There can be months go by in which you act perfectly normally and then you have a bad day and that reputation you have worked so hard to distance yourself from is there again. 

But then a reputation is different depending upon who you ask - I believe my reputation to be a gobby, emotional, chatty person but someone could have had a completely different idea about me depending upon how I have been with them. I think sometimes it is so easy to dwell on people's thoughts of you that it becomes a little bit consuming. I find it hard to distance myself from what my reputation might be, from what others might be thinking, and does it really matter? In the end you can only be the best person you can be at that time given the circumstances.

Sorry this a bit of a mind dump - there's a reason for it I promise just not one I'm really ready to put into the big bad internet yet. What do you think about reputations? What is your reputation?

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Jan/ Feb Roundup

These months have been busy but oh so good. So many new things started and so many things to be enjoyed.

Work has been that crazy mixture of quiet & busy - frantic long hours one week and then having the time to help others the next week. I also had some time off in February which meant getting back into the swing of things was hard - I have been really rubbish at taking time off so it is much needed but it does make me nervous

Going to see Chris in Nottingham was the perfect midweek treat to my week off and getting drunk on a Wednesday now seems to be my thing (and then feeling pretty sorry for myself Thursday). Alcohol is not my friend but cocktails are delicious - also getting ID'ed in two out of three places in Nottingham must mean I'm looking extra babyfaced at the moment!

Also spent some time with the boys on my week off - eating pizza, playing monopoly and going to the cinema was perfect. Also meant my Mum & Dad went to their spa day which I got them for Christmas which they really enjoyed even though there was a fire in the sauna! They took it all in their stride and had a cake as waiting outside in their dressing gowns really tired them out!!

Open University is going well - I am further ahead than I have to be at this stage because I am pretty sure that something will come up soon that will take me away from studying when I least need it and also ahead because I'm really enjoying the course. I have been to one tutorial and a day school in Cambridge and was really nice to see some new faces.

Being in the flat has now started to feel more real - washing up is maybe my least favourite task but I love food shopping and cooking meals for us. I am getting used to the air drying washing thing that perplexed me so much when I moved in and finally feel like we are back on top after no washing machine for like a month.

I went on my first first date - it was not a success but not a failure. He was nice but potentially too nice which makes me sound like a crazy person but just didn't feel like we had that much in common - he was like maybe the nicest person - volunteering in a charity shop, working for a company that helps people - and I'm maybe not.

So these are some of my highlights - can't wait to see what the next couple of months brings!