Wednesday, February 11, 2015

a busy day, or two and a half miles walked...

... in which our plucky heroine has a productive day...

Today leapt awake from a most desolate dreamland thinking the doorbell was ringing. While the entry walk was barren of guests at that early hour, later than day had a friend visit, who also likes to walk. Her companionship not only encouraged a more productive day, but doubled my average number of daily steps, since we took several walks between housey projects and social/meal cooking time. Thank you Freydis for your moral support and encouragement!

This afternoon I rearranged the artwork on the west wall of the kitchen, since raising the wee fridge on the plinth changed the shape of the area visible above the fridge and freezer... this looks better, and also allows room for future artworks. The photo also makes me realise how this room cries out to have the walls painted, once the weather warms up a tad...

this is how the artwork was formerly - and now in this arrangement instead

As mayhap forgot to mention at the time, started work earlier this month on some historical and delicious tidbits from "The Good Housewife's Jewel"(pub. 1596/7)... During the short window when Seville oranges were available, not only did some jars of marmalade get put up, but another few oranges were set aside to made candied peel; not only a favorite confection of self and friends, but will become an entry in the "preserved food" category of the Three Pillars competition at Egils this summer. The reason to do this now rather than closer to May, is that Seville oranges are more similar to the ancient type of orange, being more bitter and sour than the modern hybrids.
On February 2nd, began the experiment with period candied/preserved orange peel, the Seville orange peels are soaked in water. The various recipes (there are six in the chapter on preserving fruits) call for anywhere between two days to twelve days, with changing the water at least once a day or three times a day. Some recipes call for boiling, steeping, and only then changing the water...

translucent orange peel, after blanching for nine days... one of the period recipes states "You may know when they be steeped enough, if you hold them up to the sun and see through them, then they be steeped enough..."
Today began the process of imbuing the now translucent peel with sugar, it is cut into strips and steeping in a hot mixture of sugar and a modest amount of the final steeping fluid. Am very tempted to divide the peel into two different pots; some recipes call for the addition of rosewater, and others for cinnamon and ginger. It would be interesting to have two different flavors of confection...

Today the dressers are back in the bedroom closet, which means the rest of the room already feels a lot more open, even with many boxes of random stuff yet to sort through... every step made towards decluttering it gets easier to let go of objects no longer a vital loved part of life here, and to make room for the useful and beautiful things that remain. With recycling and Goodwill both close to hand, and effort made by our plucky heroine and friends the cottage is slowly regaining the flow and clarity it had before my cancer journey brought everything to a screeching halt.

The Hellebore in the front yard garden bed is blooming now. This is their normal flowering season; in Idaho I saw them flowering in the snow... Their flowers are simple and lovely, and apparently once the plants are settled in a place that suits them, they are durable and long-lived. Just the sort of plant that is ideal for Acorn Cottage...


February SMART goals
1blue tunic embroideryKon-Mari 3 drawersbag to Goodwill
2corbie cowlnightstands clearedbag to Goodwill
bed lamps transformedbag to Goodwill
lamp brackets installedbag to Goodwill
closet clearedpaper recycling
6-dressers movedpaper recycling
7-kitchen art rearrangedcardboard recycle




  1. The redesign of your art wall is very successful, imo, and adding color via paint would bring a bit of cheer to that corner. The Hellebore flowers are lovely. Do you have an opinion about making candied peel from Tangelos? I used to make candied orange peel and loved it. If you have an easier alternative to plucking out each strip individually with tongs, then rapping the tongs on the edge of the pan to get rid of excess syrup I'd love to read it. The rolling in sugar and laying the strips on racks to dry I can deal with, but the rapping bit is tedious. Sometimes people dip an end in chocolate which is elegant but not being a fan of chocolate I don't think it improves the taste.

  2. regarding candied peel, I haven't tried using tangelo, as I don't usually eat them, but there is no reason why it wouldn't work... I will offer my usual advice about choosing organic if you are making candied peel, so as to avoid any possible contamination, because you will be eating the outside parts that are usually not eaten.

    I don't remove the excess syrup from each strip individually. Instead I pluck out each individual strip and let them drain on wire mesh cooling racks, the same ones I use when baking cakes... that way the excess syrup drains off without any effort on my part, and then I roll them in sugar once they have dried out a little bit. I will often do the "remove from the pan and let drip" in the evening, and then roll them in sugar the next morning. I hope that helps.

    I have done the dip in chocolate for my father, who loves orange with chocolate, but I am not a big chocolate fan either, so here at Acorn Cottage it is just plain sugared peel, and no one has complained yet!