Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Spring RUSH

"The year's at the spring,
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in his Heaven— 
All's right with the world!"

 Robert Browning, The Year's at the Spring

     Spring comes with a pounce here, unlike other places we've lived where it slowly, almost shyly meanders in. One week it's winter and the next the temperatures soar into the 60s and 70s. We got our first sickness of the season right about the time that oh, everything had to get planted or transplanted. We put in blueberry bushes last year (or was it the year before?) that needed a more suitable spot to live in, so we transplanted them and acidified the soil to make them happier. The 2 blackberry bushes that are coming will be planted close by them later this week. I finally, FINALLY got to plant strawberries; long looked for come at last. 25 plants now and another 25 this fall. We built a raised bed following hugelkultur principles and will do the same with the other bed that we build later on. At the end of the strawberry bed we put in some sugar snap peas and set out 60ish red onions. The garlic is growing great guns, the rhubarb and comfrey are shooting up, daffodils are blooming everywhere and the peepers are singing. How can one be unhappy in the spring when the hope of everything is new? 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Blackberry and Blood Orange Marmalade

     We have a glut and I mean a glut (in excess of 40 pounds) of citrus fruit here. The children are eating 2 or 3 oranges a day plus an occasional grapefruit and still the fruit lies in piles on the table. I decided to make more marmalade and even after 12 jars were on the shelf there was still plenty of fruit. I wanted to try something different, I get so tired of the same old stuff year in and year out. But what? So I made up a batch (and then another because it was so stinking tasty) of Blackberry and Blood Orange Marmalade.

      The recipe is super easy and really worth the effort. Peel 6 Blood Oranges removing as much pith as possible. Shred 1 whole lemon- peel and all, but discarding the seeds. Add 6 ounces of blackberries, 2 cups of sugar and 3 cups of water. Boil until lemon pieces are tender and it begins to jell. Marmalade is a deceptive thing, by the time it looks cooked down enough it will actually have the consistency of road tar when it's room temperature. Aim for under cooked and see how it looks as it cools down, you can always cook it more if needed. Jar it and process for 10 minutes. We use most of our marmalade as a meat glaze, it pairs wonderfully with chicken and pork; but this stuff is too high class for that. I'm thinking this will be best eaten directly off the spoon late at night when the children can't see.