On the weekends, my husband and I don’t go out.
We sleep in, take naps and go to the gym or yoga. He makes Sunday morning breakfast and serves his “specialty.” Tofu scramble.
“My secret ingredient is Chinese Red Pepper Sauce,” he says about the tofu, as if he’s letting me in on a secret I don’t already know.
He also fixes toast, and with it he spoons a great dollop of my homemade dark, orangey-brown marmalade onto a little glass dish.
“That’s the world’s best ‘orange-not-orange’ marmalade,” he teases. He adds that he should know—after all, he was born in England, where the English think they invented marmalade.
He pours coffee that he makes in the French press he’s had since before we met, and there’s always about an inch of half-and-half waiting in a small glass right next to my cup and saucer.
It’s the dearest thing, that little glass with the half-and-half in it instead of the half-and-half merely standing on the table in the carton.
We eat breakfast on the patio, rain or shine. He has it set up with water misters for the 110 degree summers and a gas heater for the desert winters. He puts what he calls breakfast music on the stereo—classical mostly—which has a quiet way of somehow sounding like Chopin himself is sitting at the keyboard in the next room.
The New York Sunday Times is waiting on the table. It’s the only day of the week he reads the actual paper version, folding it—as he said the first time I commented on it—“the way they do it on the subways in New York.”
I look at him.
He is like a poem to me, leaning back in his chair, his long legs crossed, the coffee half gone and the plates cleared while he disappears behind the pages of the Times.
On the table next to my coffee stands the glass with the half-and-half in it, and I am moved by its simplicity. Its stark whiteness stands in enormous contrast to the jewel-toned marmalade glistening nearby.
I have the thought that it’s not merely half-and-half and marmalade sitting on the table in front of me.
Orange-Not-Orange Crockpot Marmalade.
Oranges (6-10 depending on size of your crockpot)
Sugar (1/2 cup sugar per orange)
1 can Pitted Black Cherries in juice
4-6 sticks cinnamon
Cut oranges in half, cut the halves into quarters and slice each quarter into thin slices. (I use six oranges, but I have a small crockpot. You can use more oranges depending on the size of your crockpot.)
Put all the orange slices into a crockpot which has been turned to high. (Be careful to remove any seeds from the slices.)
Add about half a cup of sugar per orange. I have used Jaggery sugar from India, plain granulated sugar, turbinado sugar, brown sugar—basically, it doesn’t matter what kind of sugar you use so long as half of the sugar you use is plain, granulated sugar.
Add four to five sticks of cinnamon and finally, my “secret ingredient,” one whole can of pitted black cherries (syrup and all).
Stir the whole mess and let it cook on high for about eight hours. It will turn watery and dark. You can stir it occasionally, especially if you can’t resist tasting it, but if you’re gone to work all day it isn’t absolutely necessary.
After cooking it for eight hours on high, you turn the heat to low and cook it on low for another six to eight hours—or more, until the sugar starts to stick to the bottom of the pot. The marmalade is done not after a certain, specific amount of time, but when the sugar starts to stick to the pot.
It won’t look like any orange marmalade you see in the stores. First of all, the orange slices pretty much cook down and there are no real pieces of orange discernible. Second, it won’t be orange in color. Instead, it will be a gleaming, dark orangey-red jewel tone color from the cinnamon and the black cherries.
It’s obviously a two-day process, but requires no attention during the time it is cooking—no candy thermometer, no stirring the pot, no nothing. I usually put it on in the late morning and leave it on high all day, turning it to low before I go to bed. In the morning I check it, stirring it frequently until the sugar begins to stick to the bottom of the pot. (You can hear that the sugar is sticking to the bottom of the pot as you stir it.)
One small crockpot of marmalade fits quite nicely into a large pickle jar.
You can either remove the cinnamon as you spoon the marmalade into the jar—or leave it in, leaving it up to whoever eats the marmalade to remove the cinnamon as they go.
I keep it refrigerated, and believe me, it doesn’t last long!
Author: Carmelene Siani
Image: Author’s Own
Editor: Toby Israel