Monday, April 15, 2013
M = Mahjongg and Marmalade
Quite a long time ago, Matt’s dad gave him a set of Mahjongg tiles and sticks which he had won when he was out east. (He was in the Merchant Marine). Neither he nor us had the remotest idea how to play the game so we bought books to find out (before the internet). Matt and I learned to play and enjoy the game and converted some of our friends, both in the UK and Canada, into keen players as well. The Chinese, according to a comment I read, had been playing Mahjongg one way for a thousand years, the west got hold of it and played it a thousand ways in one year. In fact there are all kinds of hands you can achieve which wasn’t so for the original Chinese game. This picture gives you an idea of all the different tiles available. It includes dragons, winds and flowers and there are many combinations for a winning hand. In the original Chinese game it was mainly collecting three of a kind (pung) or four of a kind (kong). The games one plays on the internet, matching pairs, is nothing like the real game. The first thing you have to do is shuffle the tiles, upside down, (twittering of sparrows, it does actually sound a bit like that) then build them into a 4 sided wall of China, that’s before you do anything else. Its complicated to learn, but once you have done so, it can be great fun. The three tiles above are the red and green dragons and I am guessing the white dragon. Our white dragons are totally white. There are 4 of every tile in the set.
An English friend of mine recently submitted some marmalades to the World’s Original Marmalade Awards held in Cumbria, which is in the Lake District of northern England. One of the patrons of the Awards was Paddington Bear, of course, who eats more marmalade? I am delighted to say my friend won two Silvers and a Gold and has kindly permitted me to use her Gold medal winning recipe here. I had to use a couple of pix as I think this marmalade looks so delicious. I could just eat that piece of toast.
Seville Orange and Amaretto Marmalade
Recipe by: Karen Jankel
Seville Oranges (I make 1 kg at a time)
Cane sugar (approximately twice the weight of the oranges)
Lemons (one for each kg of fruit)
A preserving pan or really large saucepan
A fine meshed sieve
A jam funnel
A good supply of clean jam jars with lids (canning jars)
Wash the oranges then cut them in half and place them in your preserving pan or saucepan. Pour in water so that the oranges are completely covered and then bring to the boil. Simmer the fruit for two hours, topping up the water as necessary so that the oranges remained covered in water and the peel is cooked. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
While your oranges are cooking, turn on your oven to a low temperature (about 120°C) and then place all of your clean jam jars into the oven to sterilize them. You can also warm your sugar in the oven at the same time. Also place two or three saucers into the freezer. Leave the jars in the oven as they need to be hot when you fill them.
Once the two hours are up, remove your oranges from the stove and allow to cool.
This is the time consuming bit! One at a time, remove the orange halves using a slotted spoon scrape out the pulp and place in the sieve over a large bowl. Press through the sieve, discarding any pips as you go. Try to keep as much of the pulp as you can. Using a sharp knife, slice the peel into thin strips (or thicker pieces if you like your marmalade really chunky). Place all of the cooking liquid, peel and pulp into the bowl and then, using a measuring jug, return this to the preserving pan making a note of how much you have in total.
Now, add your warmed sugar, using the same volume of sugar as your fruit mixture. This is why the quantity given at the beginning is only approximate as it can vary quite a lot. The important thing is to make sure you have a good supply of sugar before you start. Stir in the sugar, adding the juice of one lemon for every kg of oranges you started with (again, this is approximate). Stir thoroughly and place the pan back on the heat and bring to a rolling boil. While this is happening, measure out your Amaretto. You will need one eighth of the volume of your fruit. So, for example, if you ended up with one litre of fruit you will need 125mls of Amaretto.
Now you have to keep a careful watch over your marmalade until it reaches setting point. If it’s overcooked it will taste like treacle and if it’s undercooked it will be too runny. It can take anything from 15 to 25 minutes to be ready so you need to start testing it from about 14 minutes onwards. Do this by dropping a small spoonful onto one of the saucers you placed in the freezer. If the top wrinkles when you try pushing it across the saucer with your finger then it is ready. Keep cooking your marmalade and testing it until it’s ready and then remove the pan from the heat straight away. After one minute, stir the Amaretto into the hot marmalade. Wait about another two minutes and then start to fill your hot jars, using a ladle and a jam funnel. You should make sure the jars are filled almost to the top and then screw on the lids. As the marmalade cools, the lids will seal themselves.
Have a great day