Sunday, March 23, 2008

Marmalade at Marco's

Saturday started off fast: we skidded over to Marco's apartment on a motorcycle, which was a hairy undertaking for two reasons:

1. I had never ridden on on a motorcycle.
2. I had an awfully bad hangover, which didn't help matters.

After a year of chat and business, finally we resolved on simultaneous bread and marmalade lessons. I'd been excited about the prospect of strawberry jam, but still the fruits of the market were unimpressive. No organics were available, and the fat, punch-colored conventionals offered little to compel. Instead we went for Lisbon lemons and crafted a pretty straightforward marmalade.

Marco and Allison's kitchen is ideal, from the light filtering through the waxy leaves outside to the smell of fermentation within. Alternating between cappuccino and Advil as fuel, I sliced lemons into thin strips, removing the seeds.

"Aaaaaah!" I moaned, still, around 1 p.m.

"You can't mix gin with beer," said the Roman. "It's like mixing Parmesan with...with...I don't know. It doesn't even exist, it's that bad. It's just wrong."

To avoid bitterness with citrus, you can scrape out the white pith, but these lemons had little. I tossed them in a non-reactive pot, covered with water, and boiled the mess until the peels were transparent, which took less than an hour. Then I measured the fruit and added about one part sugar for four parts fruit.

Put everything (liquid, peel, sugar) back in the pot and boil down to make marmalade, tasting to see if your sugar ratio works.

Because Lisbon lemons are exceptionally tart, so is this marmalade. You can add lots more sugar to smooth out the flavor, but then why use Lisbons? Let them be as they are.

About eight sliced lemons called for one cup of sugar; after tasting I added about a third cup more. We tried and liked the finished product on wheat bread, with a bit of butter.

Now that I've finished writing this, I remember some details: the wheat pancakes we forgot to try with marmalade, the two Winesburg, Ohio poems I read. I wonder when I'll ride a motorcycle again. I wonder if I'll add more sugar next time.

Recipes are stories. You rewrite them a little every time.


Marco Flavio said...

It was a pleasure, Colleen. I love the marmalade you made, and polished half a jar this morning with an oatmeal/flaxseed loaf and lashings of butter.
Next time we involve others and make it an official cooking brunch.
What fruit next for marmalade/jams?
Marco Flavio

colleen said...

I hope for strawberries, but it depends on how they look Saturday. So far: disappointment in berry form.