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Plain Talk about Food

Let’s make marmalade — lemon vodka Marmalade

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Blood oranges and lemons

Last week I was reading Next Door Neighborhood online and a ad caught my eye…’Free Lemons’, which reminded me this is the lemon season around our area and I just happen to be ready to make a new batch of lemon vodka marmalade, and, at the same time, why not make Jack Daniels Whiskey orange marmalade.

Now this recipe isn’t your regular marmalade recipe. It calls for 750ml of good quality liquor poured over the fruit and left to marinade the fruit and rind for 2 weeks. Imagine how great your kitchen smells during this period of time.

Nancy Lambing, a dear friend of mine and a member of our YaYa Queens social club recently moved to South Carolina.

“How are my jars of marmalade being shipped, by UPS or Fed Ex” queried Nancy.

Well Nancy, they will arrive by UPS at the end of next week. Nancy edited my columns as well as others for the Press Banner for several months prior to her move. We all miss her indeed.

The year I was twelve, my aunt took me to West Virginia on the Milwaukee Railroad train line to visit our family of tobacco and cotton farmers. It was on this trip I discovered the ninety-nine cent, 12 inch Idaho Russet Baked Potato on the dining car menu. This particular potato came with a five compartment “hotel silver” tray which included fried bacon bits, grated cheddar cheese, diced scallions, sour cream and a mound of deep golden whipped butter. I was hooked!

Not only did I discover Idaho potatoes on this trip, but for the first time I was introduced to African American people. Our dining car waiters were all African Americans as were all the workers and their families who were sharecropping on my family’s farm. What endeared them to me was the fact they were friendly and kind, always laughing and/or singing together, while working, including me in whatever they were cooking for their evening meal even though they were still enduring hardships of all kinds.

It was then I discovered marmalade. My great-aunt Dora had an orange tree growing in a protected corner of her house on the farm, which she guarded as one would guard a cherished child. In the winter, the tree was carefully covered on nights that dipped below 40 deg. It was from the oranges grown on this tree that Aunt Dora made orange marmalade. Here, at Aunt Dora’s, I took to that marmalade the same as I did to the Idaho baked potato. I simply couldn’t get enough of it. Looking back, those jars were coveted as no one else had an orange tree growing, but Aunt Dora allowed me to have as much as I wanted. Today I realize how generous she was.

Unfortunately Aunt Dora’s recipe was never passed down, and I’ve had to rely on making many different ones until I was reasonably satisfied, and then a friend suggested I try hers. Vodka, with lemons! I exclaimed, as she handed me a jar of her marmalade, followed by a jar of her whiskey blood orange one. Since that day, the recipe below is the only one I follow.

Colly Gruczelak, a Ben Lomond resident, loves people and loves to cook. Contact her at czelak@comcast.net.

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