I can’t say what’s overcome me recently, why I’ve been compelled to take on ambitious, multi-day kitchen projects, but shortly on the heels of my two-day croissantathon, I started on a three-day lemon+grapefruit marmalade making venture. Three evenings of standing over a stove of simmering citrus. Chopping, stirring, humming, puttering around the kitchen, focusing on the task at hand rather than dwelling on weightier issues for which I have no answers to. Maybe it was the bright yellows and oranges of the peels? Maybe the pleasant smell of simmering citrus drifting through the apartment? Maybe because time in the kitchen takes me away from the computer, the blackberry, and the constant barrage of emails, tweets, facebook updates that as of late feel so overwhelming? Regardless, hanging in the kitchen until 2 AM, waiting for the marmalade to reach 220 F, shuttling hot, sputtering spoonfuls of marmalade to the freezer to check for doneness, I felt calm, awake, alert, all the things I rarely feel during the day.
Jars filled and processed, I went to bed happily exhausted. I was a bit anxious too. I couldn’t tell if the marmalade was going to set. I had attempted a three-citrus marmalade two weekends ago that ended disastrously. Four pounds of citrus and half a sack of sugar laid to waste; the marmalade a tough, leathery mess. I probably erred on the side of under-cooking this time, paying careful attention to my thermometer.
But sometimes it just all works out. You wake up to a marmalade that has magically, mysteriously set. You dig up the last croissant, pop it into the toaster oven, and sit down to the most satisfying, hard won breakfast you’ve had in a long time. Yes, this is what it’s all about.