‘Seville oranges now on sale’ pronounces the board outside the farm shop. ‘I’ve got a great idea, let’s make some marmalade!’ I say to Ellen in my most upbeat voice. ‘I don’t like marmalade’ she replies. I however, refuse to let the idea die in its tracks. ‘Well Paddington Bear loves marmalade…and so does Dad’ (I add rather as an afterthought) and pull into the farm shop car park.
For this very simple Marmalade recipe – handed down from my mother-in-law and enticingly not requiring a single inch of muslin – we needed 4lbs of Seville oranges and two lemons. The farm shop has a large set of scales hanging in the middle of the fruit and veg area and Ellen and I took several trips back and forth with oranges to fill the scales up to the 4lb mark. As we transferred our hoard to a bag, Ellen reminded me that we also needed two lemons.
The nice thing about making marmalade from Ellen’s point of view is that there are long gaps in the action where she can get back to the serious business of TV/Ipad viewing.
Firstly we put all our oranges and lemons into the large jam pan and added 4 pints of water. ‘We need to heat the water up, so that the fruit cooks’ I say to Ellen and she immediately tries to turn the oven on. Close though, and with a bit of directional pointing, she gets the right knob on the cooker and her work for the minute is done. We have an electric oven which doesn’t heat up quickly – so more quality TV time for her. The next stage is that when the fruit is softened you need to separate out the pips and cut up the skin of the oranges into marmalade-sized pieces. Ellen helped scoop the pips into a separate bowl – but I wasn’t brave enough to hand her the knife! Finally Ellen weighed out the sugar and then was allowed to leave again whilst it reached setting point. At this point, the thought of letting her loose on a pan of boiling marmalade didn’t really appeal, and so she was allowed to finish the task at this point. Her father is now happily supplied with a year’s worth of breakfast fodder.
Earlier in the day, Ellen went in to the village shop to do her shelf stacking job. Now she is so comfortable in this role, I decided it would be a good idea to try and extend her a bit by giving her a list of things to locate, rather than Ellen controlling what she wants to find. The staff at the shop had compiled a brilliant list which was not at all straight forward. Some items were in boxes, some were high up and needed the step ladder, some were stored under tables and for some there were slight distinctions in brand or flavour. This is definitely a route we will pursue over the next few weeks, perhaps adding in quantities. She still managed to sneak out a few Milky Ways though – which weren’t on the list! 😉
Her hint must have worked though, as for her ‘wages’, Ellen was given a jumbo Milky Way and not surprisingly, left very happy.