Friday, 6 April 2012

Well preserved

There's been a ridiculous influx of lemons into the WithaY house.  I take full responsibility.  It was all my own doing, and I accept that.  I went to the farmers market the other week, where they have varied and marvellous bargains.

I bought a giant box of red peppers at Christmas, which was fantastic.  I could have also bought an enormous jar of pickled eggs, a whole cartwheel sized Brie, the fixtures and fittings of a defunct pub restaurant, and a herd of calves.

It's an excellent market.

But honestly, a whole box of lemons for a fiver?  Who could say no to that sort of bargain?  And they were really nice big juicy ones* too.

Unfortunately, when smitten with Bargain Blindness, I fail to maintain my usual sense of proportion and perspective, and even some common sense.  So, I handed over my fiver, carried my box o' lemons to the car and drove home in high spirits, completely not thinking about what I was actually going to do with them all.

I counted them when I got home.  There were 50 lemons in the box.  Some of them were wrapped in paper, like little surprises.

"Ooh, what can this be?  It's another lemon!  Well, I wasn't expecting that."

This shook me, rather, and I got out the recipe books to see what recipes I have for 50 lemons.  Turns out that most recipes only need "the zest and juice of one (or maybe two) lemons."  Nowhere is there a recipe calling for "35 lemons, washed and zested," unfortunately.

Several hours of slicing, chopping, squeezing and weighing yielded me:

  • A dozen bags of lemon wedges and slices which are in the freezer;  
  • A lemon drizzle cake;
  • A large jar of lemon curd;
  • A delicious lemon souffle pudding which I would recommend to anyone
But most of all, MARMALADE.

A shedload.  Here's the makings for the second batch I did, using (I think) 10 lemons a time.  It took bloody ages.

I got bored by the last few jars and added dried chilli flakes to them.  It will be interesting to see what that tastes like. It sounds like it should be nice.  If you were in a posh restaurant and the menu included something called "hand cut lemon chilli marmalade" you'd think "ooh, that sounds interesting."

Well, I would.

 As you may see from that picture, I was running low on jars, and had to scour the cupboard for old Chinese food containers to put cooked marmalade in.    It was a useful learning experience though.  For example:  it seems that the very-similar-to-Chinese-food containers that deli olives come in do not stand up well to being filled with a boiling sugar product, and buckle dramatically after a very short time.

Yeah, that was a fun five minutes.

Anyhoo, the lemons are all used up with no waste, hurrah for me and my frugal ways, and I have a box full of jars of marmalade.  And, though I say so myself, it's delicious.  We've been having it for breakfast this week, on home-made** bread.  Om nom nom.

Also this week, I have been making a Medieval jacket for Mr WithaY.  He was supposed to be taking part in a re-enactment event this weekend but due to circumstances beyond his control, the plan fell through this morning.  However, the jacket was made on a bit of a deadline, as we assumed he would need it today.

I drafted the pattern, cut it out, and got most of the machine sewing done on Wednesday,  then hand finished it yesterday.  I think it took me about 5 hours to do the drafting, fitting, cutting, machining and pressing, then another 5 or 6 for all the hand sewing.  There are a lot of laceholes which had to be hand stitched, and you can't do it fast.

Well, I can't anyway.

So.  Here's the pattern I made, finally fitted properly, with the outer fabric cut out.  It's made of a madder (reddish) wool, lined with a slightly darker red linen.

This is the front view, laces have since been added to the eyelets all down the front edges.  20 of them,  hand sewn.  Did I mention that already?  My fingers are still bloody sore.

This is the back view, please note the V-shaped collar insert which was an absolute bastard to get right.

It didn't help that I haven't made Medieval clothing before, so the shape of it seemed all wrong.  I spent years making Seventeenth Century re-enactment kit, so I have a good feel for how it should look when it's complete, but this was all new.

I kept thinking "It's too wide...the sleeves are too full...that collar is all wrong" until Mr WithaY put it on.  Then he looked like an extra from Cadfael, and I was relieved.

In other news: I went to the shopping village at Street, Somerset this week.  I'd never been there before and a friend*** suggested we take a look, so we had a Big Day Out shopping.

Mmmmm shopping.  I'd like to point out that not all of those bags are mine.

My advanced age and general lack of cool can be summed up by the fact that I bought myself (among other things) two new aprons, a butter dish and some soap, and was utterly delighted with the day.

The shopping village is on the site of the Clark's shoe factory, and there are some interesting bits and pieces relating to the history there.

The old factory chimney is impressive, and there are some fab London Plane trees in one of the courtyards.

It's not somewhere I'd visit regularly, but once or twice a year I think is fine.  You can always stockpile aprons, after all.

Oh - almost forgot - I made some peanut butter fudge with my bastard home-made peanut butter.  I found a Sophie Dahl recipe online and tried it.  I ate one piece of fudge when it had cooled down and thought I was about to die, my heart was racing so hard.  It's all  boxed up in the freezer now.  I'm too scared to eat it.

*Apologies, smut seekers
**In a bread machine we were given.  It's not Little House on the Prairie.
***Hello Jo!


The Return of the Native ... sort of. said...

You must be related to my husband ... he went out and bought me a good 50kg of Seville oranges. After 30 pots I had no more pots left and thought I was going mad.

I have frozen them and will make the odd batch every now and then. Oranges freeze very well, so I suppose lemons would too so if you find another bargain box go ahead and buy them!

Middle Sis said...

I love peanut butter fudge, but it does leave you boarderline hyperglycaemic.

Jo Graham said...

You'll be all right for lemon in your G&T for the next two years then :-) And lemon curd is delicious!