3-Citrus Marmalade

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IMG_0279“Do it by the book,” she muttered as she stirred the three-citrus marmalade. Determined that today, this time, for once, she was going to follow the recipe exactly. Well, almost exactly.

She never did things by the book and was still disgruntled with that silly question she’d asked some friends, the one about the alarm clock in the opening lines. The writers’ remarks were all sensible and supportive, especially the one about “screaming in the face of the editors,” that brought a smile to her face as she stirred.

But, one friend’s remark, “Try it in first person,” was a burr under her skin, made her hot under the collar. If she weren’t so annoyed she’d find some more clichés to hurl at the pot.

‘That’s not what I asked, you, you git,” she hissed at the seething marmalade; Macbeth’s witch curdling her features with a something-evil-this-way-comes look. Usually, when so irked, she made bread. There was something cathartic and calming about bashing the dough. And then that just-baked aroma of fresh bread was the best thing ever for an unsettled mood. Instead of bread she thought the acid lemons, limes and orange might expiate the acerbic humour that was clouding her brain.

She clenched her teeth and read the thermometer sunk into the marmalade. It was nowhere near the 220°F that the recipe called for and still hovered around 180°F. As for ‘F’ degrees, the less said about those the better.

On any other day she’d have blithely followed her usual method of dunking a drop onto a steel spoon and turning it upside down. If it stuck, the marmalade was done and taken off the burner. But, today she was doing it by the book!

Stir. Stir. Stir. Marmalade boil and marmalade bubble.

Fifteen minutes later she stared at the thermometer as it still stood at 180°F. Past experience told her the marmalade was done and had been done at least ten minutes ago. Now it was a dark caramel.

She’ll never do anything by the book again.

(The marmalade? It tastes fine, but could have had more sugar.)

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