Sunday, 15 January 2012

Marmalade Season

It's that time of year again: there are Seville oranges in the greengrocers' shops, it's cold outside, and I am (literally) scraping the bottom of my last jar of 2011 marmalade. So it must be time to make the entire house small of oranges by making marmalade.

Saturday  was very cold - it's been a very mild winter so far, and I've only had about 2 days when I've needed to scrape ice off the car before heading into work. There was a very heavy frost, coupled with that very bright, cold sunshine you sometimes get in winter, and a perfectly clear, perfectly blue sky. I walked into town and found that the marmalade oranges were in stock at the greengrocer's (they weren't, last weekend) so I bought lots, popped into the corner shop on the way home for shedloads of sugar, and spent much of Saturday afternoon making my first batch, and much of Sunday afternoon making the second.
1st Batch of 2012 Marmalade!

So far, the first batch is looking good - it's got a nice set, and the peel is well distributed through the jars. Today's batch is not looking quite so good - it looks as though the peel is rising a bit, especially in the fist couple of jars I filled,  which means that I didn't leave it quite long enough before putting it into jars, but the taste seems fine, so it's many aesthetic! I am always a little bit worried that I'll leave it too long and end up with a saucepan full of solid marmalade, instead of neat jars full.

I've probably made around 12lbs of marmalade, and  have another 4lbs of oranges, (which will make around the same quantity) so will probably do some more next weekend, provided I can source a few more empty jars by then.

Having spent most of the last week eating very dull, not-very-good-for-me meals because I felt too tired to cook properly when I got in from work, I also took the opportunity yesterday to make a big batch of chili / spaghetti sauce, most of which I have frozen, so I have enough for 7 or 8 meals, so the next few times I'm too tired to cook I can have real, home cooked food without having to do any real cooking.

I also renewed my car insurance, which was, as it so often is, a frustrating exercise. My renewal from my existing provider was just under £100 more than last year, for the annual premium. Shopping around, I managed to get it to £45 less than last year (and with a slightly lower excess than the renewal quote, but otherwise an identical policy) - the really irritating part being that this is actually with the same insurer - but even knowing this, they wouldn't price match so it is treated as a new application, not a renewal, and I have to faff around sending copies of my licence and renewal notice. It seems such a waste, and just goes to show how much insurers rely on inertia to take advantage of their customers. I'd love to see an insurer genuinely reward loyal customers, with lower prices for sticking with them, but I doubt it will happen.

I didn't get around to spring cleaning the spare bedroom, which is next on my 'to-do' list, but all in all I feel the weekend has not been wasted, and I shall be able to settle down to enjoy watching 'Sherlock' with a clear conscience, this evening!

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