My Nana is one of those people who's difficult to buy for. There's nothing much she needs, nor (as far as I know) anything she particularly wants. So Christmas gifts for Nana often tend to be of the edible variety. That being so, I decided that this year's gift should be a home-made one.
After a little thought (and a lot of flicking through my Edmonds book) I came up with the concept of a 'breakfast basket' containing some marmalade, some jam and a jar of muesli. I'm not sure whether or not she'll eat the muesli, but it rounded off my concept nicely so I went ahead with it.
The first thing on my list was sweet orange marmalade (p228). I'd meant to get this done one night during the week, but I never got around to it, and so found myself standing over a pot of orange pulp at 9.00 this morning.
The marmalade uses the juice and skins of oranges and lemons. Knowing how hard it would be to remove the skins after juicing, I began by peeling thick strips of skin off with an orange peeler. I did wonder for a while whether "skins" meant the whole thing (pith and all), but decided in the end just to include the top layer of peel.
This done, I moved on to juicing the oranges and lemon. It was a bit more difficult squeezing them with the skin off - they kept falling apart - but I managed it without too much trouble. The pips were supposed to be tied in muslin and added to the pot. I did this with the lemon pips, but when I got to the oranges, I found I had inadvertently bought a seedless variety.
With the orange and lemon juice in a large saucepan, I added the muslin-tied lemon pips and some water. The last thing to go in was my pile of lemon and orange peel. The recipe said to "finely shred" the skins, which seems to indicate tearing them by hand, but I just cut them into thin strips and hoped that would work.
The last step was to boil the mixture for 20 minutes or until it reached setting point. 20 minutes came and went, and the mixture showed no sign of thickening or setting on cooling. After half an hour or so, I shrugged, and decided to take it off the heat anyway.
The mixture was very runny and I wondered if I'd made the wrong decision. Still, it was too late to change my mind, so I just kept pouring it into the jars. My mother had kindly supplied me with a jam funnel to help with this particular procedure: unfortunately, it was too wide to sit inside the jars I was using. I tried holding it in place at the top of the jars, but it kept slipping and the marmalade oozed everywhere.
The next step in making my 'breakfast basket' was toasted muesli (p156). A quick walk to the local Bin Inn supplied me with everything I needed, and I was soon back in the kitchen mixing up my muesli. First, I put a saucepan containing oil, honey and brown sugar on a low heat, and let it heat up and dissolve the sugar while I threw together the rest of the ingredients.
I piled the rolled oats, coconut flakes, wheatgerm, bran flakes, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and chopped nuts together in a bowl. By the time I had these mixed together, the honey mixture on the stove was ready. I poured it over the muesli and stirred it through to coat all the ingredients with the sweet sticky mixture.
With the fruit stirred through, the muesli was complete. I tried a bowlful and it was delicious. When you consider how much a box of ready-made muesli costs, it's really worthwhile (if you're a regular muesli eater) to make your own. It took about $7.00 (and maybe 10 minutes' work) to make a whole roasting dish-full, and you can add or leave out ingredients as per your own tastes. If you prefer a natural muesli, there's a recipe for that in your Edmonds book too.
Later this afternoon, I made a trip to the supermarket, where I got a jar for my muesli, and a packet of frozen boysenberries. Seeing as my raspberry jam had been so successful, I'd decided to do the boysenberry jam variation (p228) for the breakfast basket.
Just like the raspberry jam, boysenberry jam is fairly quick and simple. You just put the berries in a saucepan over a low heat until all the juice comes out, then add the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, you boil the mixture for 3-5 minutes, then pour it into prepared jars. Easy. The bit I like about this recipe is that there's no fretting about whether you've reached setting point, like I had with the marmalade this morning.
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