The other week my husband and I received a letter from the bank to say that we are now hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

Naturally we went out to celebrate.

Please note that Espanol is not a language I speak.

Uh huh. We are now, officially, “Raging Homeowners”

It’s a funny thing, but the thought of having our very own patch of dirt has put me into Total Nesting Overdrive (TNO).

I’m cringing as I write at how daggy that sounds. But it’s true.

Before I go to sleep, my mind frolics in fantasies of chickens and fruit trees and home-makery-goodness (cringe cringe).

Our coffee table is covered in interior design clippings and gardening hot-tips, cut out from pilfered waiting room magazines. My spare moments are filled with narcotising day dreams of reupholstering and landscape design.

I want to grow our own veggies and sew some new rugs, be a champion recycler, learn how to knit…. And in the process transform, myself into a younger and hopefully less irritating Martha-Stewart-type-person. I want to be a Domestic Goddess.

One of my good friends got this book for her birthday:

Please note that I also would be most happy to receive this for my birthday.
Or Christmas. No pressure.

It’s a glorious guidebook to spending less, expecting less, wasting less and living more.

I tried to live more simply.

Cumquat marmalade.

Step one:  grab a dog and a good looking man. Walk up the steep hill to the old building, circa 1940’s ish, with the large rambling garden. I don’t know what the property is used for but I like it a lot because it reminds me of my Gran and Grandpa’s old house. The sign on the door suggests some kind of “investments” business , but I’ve never seen anyone there that I could ask, and the doorbell goes unanswered. **

Step two: take your pick of the three epic cumquat trees and start picking.

Laugh at the good looking man throwing cumquats for the dog to chase.

So good looking.

Step 3: invite a dear friend around. Chat about her recent trip to India, and the amazing book she got for her birthday.

Slice the cumquats finely. Don’t worry if some are manky, just chop off the good bits. When your fingers are pruney and stinging from the acid, stop for wine and cheese.

Still life: Danger with cumquats.


Step 4:  wrap the seeds (which you have saved) in a muslin cloth. If, like me, you don’t have one, wrap them in a scrap of old sheet. The seeds contain a natural gelling agent called pectin, which will help your marmalade set.


Step five : add a couple of cups of water to the fruit and dangle the pip bag in.

While it’s gently boiling, prepare an amazing lamb roast with root vegetables and fennel, in true domestic goddess style.

Step 6: the good looking man will comment on how incredible the house smells, fruity and delicious! Wonder how the house will smell when the aroma of roasting meat begins to compete – also an incredible fragrance, but perhaps not so much in combination.

Step 7: remove the pip bag, taking care to squeeze out any pectiny goodness. Add your sugar – it needs to be approximately a 1:1 ratio of sugar to fruit.  Continue to boil gently, stirring regularly to prevent the mixture catching.

Step 8: the roast is done! Turn the marmalade right down to a simmer in a “she’ll be right” attitude. Turn your attention to the delicious food at hand.

Step 9: pour more wine.

Step 10: get up to pinch another carrot and realize you can detect the faintest whiff of smoke.

 “Aargh! The marmalade!”

Inspect with a wooden spoon – it has unmistakably burnt on the bottom. Decant the mixture to a new saucepan and inspect the damage, swearing under your breath.

Step 11: with damage control completed, deem the marmalade worthy of soldiering on. You didn’t flare up your dermatitis for nothing. Stir with extra vigilance while your guests assure you that the burnt-ness won’t be noticeable.

(Yeah sure. Bet they won’t eat any though).

Step 12:  sterilize your jars by washing in hot soapy water and then baking them on a low heat in the oven.

Step 13: realize you turned the oven to 170 instead of 70 when you remove the jars and your lovely glass canister cracks in half.

Domestic goddess my left foot.

Step 14:  decant the mixture into the jars, attempting not to burn yourself.

Step 15:  taste some of the marmalade, hoping that “it’ll be fine”.

The smokiness is subtle, but distinct.

Pork glaze anyone?

** it’s probably a front for some international crime syndicate. Possibly drugs. Probably the illegal cumquat trade.

Have you ever seen cumquats in the supermarket? Think about it.


7 thoughts on “marmalade

  1. Beautiful Jess, 
    you have one of the most pure souls I have ever met! Your ability to see the goodness in every person and every situation is  simply surreal! What’s more is your ability to laugh at yourself and the world! Bless you! Xxx 

  2. There is more to life than being a domestic goddess Jess- (well, that is my theory, and I’m sticking to it!) But enjoy learning the “trade”. (Yesterday I heard oil of clove is good for mould- but what IS oil of clove? Can you enlighten me?)The cumquats sound great- and the smoked taste will add flair. I can see you as the next Nigella -sensuous, funny and real! Love to you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s