Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Marmalade as meditation

"I got the blues thinking of the future, so I left off and made some marmalade. It's amazing how it cheers one up to shred oranges or scrub the floor."

DH Lawrence writing to Arthur McLeod, from 'Villa Igea', Villa di Gargnano (Brescia), Lagodi Garda, Italy. 17 January 1913.

The selected letters of D.H. Lawrence
By D. H. Lawrence, James T. Boulton
Compiled by James T. Boulton
Published by Cambridge University Press, 2000

It seems DH Lawrence may have been onto something.

With thoughts of the future spinning in my head the past few weeks, I took some time out yesterday to make some marmalade. (I drew the line at scrubbing floors.)

I used a recipe from an 1845 cookbook, and apart from a brief moment when I was perplexed as to what the 'straw' may be* that I was to pierce the tender oranges with, it was a very easy recipe to make.

ORANGE MARMALADE Procure Seville oranges, stew them till they become so tender, that you can pierce them with a straw, changing the water two or three times. Drain them, take off the rind, weigh the pulps, previously taking out the pips; and supposing the quantity to be six pounds, add seven of sugar; boil it slowly till the syrup be clear, then add the peel, having cut it into strips. Boil it again and it is finished. This is a new method, and found to be excellent as well as economical. Seville oranges are in their best state at the end of March or beginning of April.

The practical cook, English and foreign, By Joseph Bregion, Anne Miller, 1845

And at the end of the day, I had around six months' supply of marmalade for my breakfast toast.

DH Lawrence was right, it is amazing how the nature of shredding the rinds can be almost a meditative experience, as can the stirring of the boiling pot.

In today's world we have a tendency to see repetitive tasks as tiresome chores, something to be endured and something to get through as quickly as possible.

In doing so, we are missing an opportunity to enjoy the experience of taking time out to do something productive. Chores can instead be a time when we can focus on the task at hand, dismissing the day's concerns from our minds.

When I am working on creative writing pieces, some of my best ideas come about when I an doing 'a chore' such as washing the dishes.

What repetitive tasks do you do to unwind or cheer yourself up?

* thank you to the Before Our Time Twitter followers who offered opinions about the nature of 'a straw' in my hour of need.

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Stomper Girl said...

What did you end up using as a straw substitute?

weenie_elise said...

i like ironing... you can just zone out a bit and focus on the smooth material and the scent of freshly ironed things

the mof said...

Ah yes! the marmalade making season.
Having spent years and years of cutting up fruit and carefully slicing the peel I was so pleased when my then new neighbour a few years ago gave me her recipe which blitzes up the fruit in the food processor. It never fails and with an over abundance of citrus of all kinds in the garden I make enough for all year plus jars and jars to give away. I don't think I would do that if I had to cut it all up by hand! Since you are now expert at the art, Alison, I can take you off the list of giveaways!!
Like weenie elise I get my meditation time at the ironing board.

Alison said...

Stomper - I was going to use a wooden satay stick as a "straw", but by the time I went to test them, the skins were so tender they literally fell apart. No straw was required.

Mary said...

You will think I am crazy but mowing the lawn is good therapy for me!

M said...

Knitting, crocheting.

Believe me you can tell when I haven't knitted or crocheted anything for a while. Like now. I am tense and crotchety. Just.don't.mention.my.job.

Ironing doesn't soothe me at all. It would be very handy if it did.

Boy on a bike said...

Meditation - walking around the block picking up rubbish. It's surprisingly relaxing.

Melinda said...

I too like a good walk. Or a good word game.

That marmalade looks delish. I eat toast every day. It is my comfort food. Sometimes, I even eat it for supper.

Samantha said...

I have bookmarked this post as you have inspired me to make some marmalade. I also like limes so may branch out if my first foray goes well.

I cross-stitch or crochet and find it very meditative. One of my most recent discoveries is that I can crochet in the car without feeling nauseous which is such a great thing as it tends to reduce my stress levels in that environment.

Brenda said...

I think any type of hand work while sitting and watching TV is my unwinding activity. Knitting, crochet, embroidery, quilting, anything on those lines.

Anonymous said...

I second knitting! I like to knit, listen to music & sing along to relax & unwind after a long day.