It really doesn't matter how many jars lurk in the cupboard from the previous year... Or possibly even years. And there are always some, as marmalade consumption is rather slow in our house given I'm the only one who eats it, unless it gets baked into a cake or a pudding. But when the Seville oranges appear in the shops briefly during January, I cannot resist buying them for a marmalade making session. It's an annual ritual, capturing that little bit of sunshine in a jar during the cold grey days of January.
A day of making marmalade is like bringing a little bit of hygge to the kitchen. I prefer the slow method of squeezing out the pips and juice from the bitter oranges and then thinly slicing the peel by hand. It is then left to soak overnight in the juice and water.
The following day it gets boiled until soft and then cooked up with sugar until it makes marmalade. I love the way the windows steam up, the kitchen becomes warm and cosy and the whole house smells of fragrant oranges.
This year I used half demerara sugar and it has produced a wonderful dark almost treacle like conserve. I also found the remnants of a bottle of Jack Daniels in the cupboard so that went in too... slightly more than I had actually anticipated was left in the bottle!
But it has made the most intensly flavoured dark marmalade.
Which of course, I had to try... on a slice of soda bread which went down nicely with an afternoon cuppa.
Since embarking on our healthy eating regime I've been making soda bread each week for our lunches and to go with our soups.
It really couldn't be easier. In a large bowl combine 450g of wholemeal plain flour, 75g mixed seeds (such as sunflower, linseed, and pumpkin), 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda and a quarter teaspoon of salt. Then in a large jug mix together a tablespoon of black treacle with a tub of buttermilk (cartons seem to vary between 280ml and 300ml but the exact quantity doesn't matter) and make this up to between 425 and 450ml with cold water. Mix this thoroughly into the dry ingedients to make a soft, slightly sticky dough. The amount of water you need does tend to depend on the flour. Leave to stand for 5 minutes while the oven heats up to 200 deg C (180 fan). Then shape the dough into a round loaf (or two smaller loaves as I tend to do) and place on a non stick baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.
Making soda bread each week has also become something of a ritual this month and I like the idea of eating something that is not packed full of additives. As you might have gathered we are now approaching the end of a whole month of eating better, it's not been difficult, everything seems to taste so much better, we're enjoying our food and we feel so much better too. Alhough there has been cake this weekend... more about that next time!