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“W” Marmalade

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade… and when your lime tree gives you limes, it’s time to make “W” Marmalade, especially if, like me, you’re a limey!

Why “W”? Why not?! Being over-run with delicious, juicy limes, finding a little bottle of rose water in the cupboard, and then a piece of fresh ginger in my fridge, and simply because… whatever!

There’s a very subtle hint of heat, from the ginger, and little bit of India in the fragrance of the rose. You may want to raise the volume of each or either of these exotic elements, as they’re both given at their most subtle quantities. They’re simply there to add a little je ne sais quois to the lime, which for sure shines all the brighter for having these lovely friends in the mix.

It makes about 12 x 8 oz mason jars of marmalade, plus a little bit extra to spread on your toast tonight.

Ingredients:

2 1/4 lbs fresh organic limes, washed and dried
2″ fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
3 tablespoons rose water
7 cups water
3 1/5 lbs sugar

Tools:

* Serrated knife and chopping board
* Large china bowl
* Small china saucer
* A stainless steel teaspoon
* Fine grater for the ginger
* Very big saucepan, at least 10 quarts / 10 litres
* Another very big saucepan, at least 8 quarts / 8 litres
* 2 clean tea towels
* A big ladle
* Canning tongs, or long-handled utensils to hold hot jars
* Butter knife, or rubber spatula
* At least a dozen 8oz glass mason jars

Method:

1. Cut each lime in half lengthwise, and slice as thinly as possible to make half moons, removing any seeds.

2. Combine the sliced limes, grated ginger, rose water and regular water in a china or plastic bowl, and leave to rest overnight in the fridge.

3. The next day, heat the lime mixture in a large saucepan until it’s boiling, and then reduce to a simmer.
4. In the biggest saucepan, simmer the limes on a very low heat with the lid on for about 40 minutes, until the rinds are soft.
5. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F / 180 C / Gas Mark 4, and also, put the saucer in the freezer.
6. Heat the sugar in two baking trays for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.
7. Measure the lime mixture into a bowl with a measuring jug. It will measure about 10 cups, but it’s important to note the exact volume.
8. Pour the lime mixture back into the saucepan, and add exactly the same quantity of warm sugar.
9. Stir the mixture over a low heat until all of the sugar has dissolved.
10. When it has all dissolved, raise the heat to high and bring to a rapid boil.
11. Do not stir at all while it’s boiling.
12. Boil on high for 14 minutes.
13. Remove the pan from the heat, and wait for the bubbles to subside.
14. Carefully using the teaspoon, put a small amount of the marmalade onto the saucer, and put back in the freezer for about 3 minutes.
15. If the marmalade seems to be a good consistency, it’s done, if not, bring back to the boil for another 3 minutes, and repeat until it’s a good consistency.
16. Meanwhile, in the smaller saucepan, in batches, boil the glass mason jars (without their lids or rings).
17. After a few minutes, remove them from the water, and leave upturned on a clean tea towel to drain, covered in another cloth to keep them warm.
18. While the jars are still hot, fill them with hot marmalade, being careful not to trap air bubbles.
19. When the jars are all filled, use a butter knife or rubber spatula to gently pull around the inside of the jars to release any trapped air bubbles.
20. Wipe the jars clean with a damp cloth, especially the tops of the jars.
21. Place the lids onto the hot jars, and screw the rings down tight.
22. Using the tongs, lower the jars back into the boiling water so that the jars remain upright, and the lids are covered with boiling water by about 4″ / 8 cm.
23. Boil for 5 minutes, and repeat if boiling batches.
24. Remove from the boiling water, and leave to cool, upright, on the tea towel.

Keep the marmalade at room temperate in a dark cupboard, or in the fridge after the jar is opened. It will be delicious and safe to eat for at least 6 months, but probably for well over a year. If it’s not eaten up immediately!

Killing badgers is immoral

British voters are on the brink of saving their natural heritage from a shocking, unscientific and brutal attack by the UK Government. It is poised to cull one of their most beloved protected species: badgers. There is also talk of extending the cull to more British wildlife, including wild deer and domestic cats and dogs.

Shadow Environment Secretary Mary Creagh said: “There is widespread concern about the government’s decision to press ahead with a badger cull, despite their own official advice that it will cost more than it saves and will spread bovine TB in the short term as badgers are disturbed by the shooting.”

“Ministers should listen to the scientists and can this cull which is bad for farmers, bad for taxpayers and bad for wildlife.”

With the legendary Queen guitarist, Brian May, at the helm of the public outcry, the British people have signed petitions and sent letters to the Government in such great numbers, that it looks likely the planned cull of badgers may be averted.

The House of Commons is deciding about a debate to re-examine the scientific evidence for and against the cull. The scientific community meanwhile is strongly against it, as it would at best only reduce bovine TB by 16% over a 9 year period, which means it would not make sense financially.

Organic farmers and scientists are united in their belief that the proposed cull would not benefit the UK dairy industry or any other sector of the agriculture industry.

Badgers are a protected species, and are well-loved.

SIGN Brian May’s petition HERE.

Goji berries are nightshades

I read Craig Sam’s article about nightshades. Goji berries and ashwaganda are also nightshades. Non-nightshades that contain solanine include apples, blueberries, artichoke and okra.

from Jen Siskind

Hi Jen,

Thank you so much for this information. I’ll forward your email to Craig and let you know if he has more to say about this, but yes, I think you’re information is correct and is an interesting point to consider!

Best wishes,
Ysanne

Roundup linked to tumours

Rats fed a lifetime diet of Monsanto’s genetically modified corn or exposed to its top-selling weedkiller Roundup suffered tumours and multiple organ damage, according to a French study published on September 19th, 2012.

Gilles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caen and colleagues said rats fed on a diet containing NK603 – a seed variety made tolerant to dousings of Roundup – or given water containing Roundup at levels permitted in the United States died earlier than those on a standard diet.

The animals on the GM diet suffered mammary tumours, as well as severe liver and kidney damage.

The researchers said 50 percent of males and 70 percent of females died prematurely, compared with only 30 percent and 20 percent in the control group.

Seralini was part of a team that flagged previous safety concerns based on a shorter rat study in a scientific paper published in December 2009 but this takes things a step further by tracking the animals throughout their two-year lifespan.

Monsanto said at the time of the earlier research that the French researchers had reached “unsubstantiated conclusions.”

Seralini believes his latest lifetime rat tests give a more realistic and authoritative view of risks than the 90-day feeding trials that form the basis of GM crop approvals, since three months is only the equivalent of early adulthood in rats.

Reuters, London, Sept 19.

Viva la France!

France is to maintain a ban on genetically modified crops, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Saturday September 15th.

The ban targets Monsanto’s MON810 maize, which is the only genetically modified organism (GMO) currently allowed anywhere in Europe.

As Europe’s largest crop-grower, France is under pressure to soften its stance on GMO’s.

However, in a country that is fiercely protective of its agriculture, regarding it as part of its national identity, the government faces strong public resistance to GMO crops, as well as to the use of chemicals in farming.

Earlier this year a French court found Monsanto guilty of chemical poisoning after a farmer from the south-eastern town of Lyon claimed he had suffered neurological problems caused by inhaling one of the biotech giant’s weedkillers.

Ayrault said the government also intended to ban crop dusting, the use of aircraft to spray pesticides over wide areas, except in cases where there was no viable alternative.

The move was part of a broader plan to reduce the use of chemicals in farming, the prime minister said.

Chocolate Blueberry Tart

I love to make cakes, cookies and desserts that are delicious, pretty, and can be enjoyed by everyone around the dinner table. This means, it’s got to be decadent enough that your ‘regular Joe’ will want a second piece, but it also has to be sugar-free, dairy-free and gluten-free so that your health-conscious girlfriend will have her share of the pie without any allergy issues.

Over the years, I’ve figured out how to do it, so that my dinner parties can be a place for everyone to relax and indulge, without anyone worrying about being unhealthy or missing out.

Here’s a new recipe that includes one of my favourite ingredients, chocolate, in a super-healthy way that’s also ridiculously luscious. It’s best to use raw chocolate and raw cacao powder to make this tart, but if you can’t find it, substitute with high quality organic dark chocolate.

You can find raw chocolate and raw cacao in Whole Foods Market stores. It’s also available online in the UK and Europe at Raw Living, and in the USA at Raw Food World. Both are excellent independent businesses run by friends of mine, and both of these online stores offer high quality organic raw ingredients you can trust.

So, now you have your sources of ingredients, here’s my Chocolate Blueberry Tart… enjoy!

Ingredients:

For the shell:

2 cups coconut flakes
1 cup cacao powder
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1/4 cup agave syrup or honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
a pinch of sea salt

For the filling:

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, thawed
1 cup dark chocolate, melted (if you can find it, use raw chocolate)
1/2 a ripe banana, mashed
1/4 cup water (or fruit juice)
3/4 cup melted coconut oil
3 tablespoons Irish moss gel (see note below)
1/4 creme fraiche (optional)
a pinch of cinnamon
a pinch of sea salt

For the icing:

1/2 cup cacao butter or white chocolate, melted
1/4 cup honey (optional)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence

Method:

1. Mix all of the tart shell ingredients thoroughly in a bowl.
2. Press into a 10″ / 25 cm tart dish to form a crust.
3. Refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.
4. In a blender, whizz all of the filling ingredients.
5. Taste a little, and add more spices and salt, to taste.
6. When it’s ready, pour the filling into the shell.
7. Refrigerate the tart for at least four hours, but if possible, overnight.
8. When the tart has set, mix the icing ingredients.
9. Pour the icing onto the tart carefully.
10. Decorate with extra blueberries and flowers.

A Note about Irish Moss Gel:

Irish moss is a variety of seaweed, and it’s easy to make an extremely versatile and super healthy gel out of it that you can keep in the fridge ready to be used any time. It’s used as a thickener and a gelling agent, and is invaluable in tarts, quiches and in ice-cream to adjust the consistency to perfection. It’s also known as carrageen, and is often listed in the ingredients of ice-cream.

It’s the ingredient that transforms this tart filling from a smoothie into a creamy topping.

You can buy Irish moss online in the UK and Europe at Raw Living, and in the USA at Cafe Gratitude. It’s also increasingly available in stores across America, but in the UK and Europe, your best bet is to get it from Raw Living.

Here’s how you make Irish moss gel, which I keep in a mason jar in my fridge at all times.

Method:

Rinse 1/2 cup Irish moss several times to remove any sand. In a bowl, cover it with water and leave it to soak overnight on the counter, for about 8 hours. It will double in size. In the morning, discard the soaking water and throw the Irish moss in a blender. Add a cup of water and blend for about a minute, until it’s turned into a smooth puree.

Transfer to a glass jar with a sealed lid, and keep in the fridge.

Woman and Home Magazine’s Top 100!

food-blogs-logo

 

Hey Ysanne,

I’m a freelancer for Woman and Home magazine, and for the last 6 months we’ve been researching the top 100 food blogs in the UK.

We’ve chosen our favourites for the W&H 100 Best Food Blogs, a collection of British food blogs we think our readers will love, and we’re really pleased to be getting in touch to let you know that OrganicFoodee is going to be included.

Our readers love to entertain and eat great food, and we’re sure they’ll be inspired by your mouthwatering blog.

Best,
Sarah Holmes

Dear Sarah,

This is so exciting, thank you!!!
Ysanne xxx

September Garden, and Lemon Recipe!

We had some special visitors this week, a party of children, who were here to pick veggies for their school’s fundraising Farmer’s Market.

Pictured from left to right are Talula, Sullivan, Philip and Darby, and they were excellent at harvesting, particularly at snipping the herbs with their scissors to make bundles, adding scent as well as beauty to their wicker baskets. No wonder their local school raised lots of money to spend on educational supplies!

It’s always such a pleasure to see kids in the garden, because they get so excited about vegetables, insects and generally being outdoors and experiencing nature up close. I’m looking forward to their return, can’t wait to see their faces when they see the pale white shells of the Luna pumpkins, and pull up multicolored carrots with their feathery tops.

It’s still uncomfortably hot, triple figures heat… but in the evening, you can smell autumn in the air as the air cools down and the owls come out. The pollen scents are different from a month ago, and there’s the beginnings of the marine mists rolling from the Pacific and into the canyons, generously salting the air with their welcome moisture.

I’ve taken to working in the gardens in the evenings, starting no earlier than 2pm and finishing after dark. The skies are scattered with twinkling stars, each distant galaxy illuminating the mountain’s wild inhabitants, and the landscape itself.

I planted two types of gourds in June, Bird Cage and Water Bottle, and both are sprawling impressively across the dry, cracked ground, spreading their gloriously velvety leaves under the most delicate, white, star-shaped blooms. The gourds themselves are velvety too, a delicate fuzz extending out of their dapples and stripes.

I’ve sown our autumn seeds, knowing that the heat today will wain tomorrow, and then we’ll be glad to have brassicas for dinner!

So far, these are the seedlings growing under cover:

Romanesco cauliflowers
Pixie cabbages
Siberian kale
Tadoma leeks
Purple top turnips
Kohl rabi
and Buttercrunch lettuces

I’ve also liberally scattered arugula (rocket) salad, and sown sweet peas alongside lupines.

The harvest is still rich, with figs dripping from every tree, stripy pink lemonade lemons laden on the boughs, and every types of squash, melon and cucumber type of vine seriously pumping out produce.

The Italian, French and American tomatoes are happy too, especially three heirloom varieties: Genovese, Hillbilly, and Chocolate Stripes. Also Arkansas Traveler did make a lot of fruit, but they were a bit boring in flavour, and Ace produced well, but the fruit were partial to blight. Super marmande did well, and its high acidity adds a welcome vibrancy to everything. And Striped Cavern was prolific, pumping out thick-walled and stripey little tomatoes. But the German varieties I planted didn’t fair well, despite the fact that I probably got the worst sunburn I’ve ever had one summer in Germany, many years ago. It was that memory of sore skin that prompted me to plant the German tomatoes, thinking they’d be right at home here in the heat of the Malibu mountains. Seems that’s not the case.

So next year, I’ll just stick to Italian and American varieties, Genovese, Hillbilly and Chocolate Stripes for the big varieties, and sow Chocolate Cherry tomatoes for the baby ones, plus Yellow Pear and the ever-popular Sweet 100 red cherry tomatoes. Maybe throw in some French ones for variety and pure flavour.

This weekend I’m going to preserve lemons, simply in their own juice with added Himalayan salt. The rinds preserve into the most delicious condiment that can be added to everything. It’s one of my favourite tastes to add to roast chicken, chopped finely into a paste with fresh rosemary and tarragon from the garden.

So quick and simple to preserve, and so versatile to have in the fridge. Even prettier when made with the stripey lemons we have here at the Ranch, called Pink Lemonade lemons. This is how I do it.

Preserved Lemons

You will need:

8 lemons
4 tablespoons real salt, e.g. Himalayan pink, Brittany grey, or Halen Mon Welsh sea salt
a quart glass mason jar with lid

Method:

1. Scrub the lemons.
2. Cut 4 of the lemons almost into quarters, but leave them attached at the stem end.
3. Using up all of the salt, stuff the cuts full of salt.
4. Press them down into the mason jar, and then squeeze the juice from the other four lemons into the jar.
5. Squash everything down so they’re immersed in liquid, and leave at room temperature for 3-4 days, with the lid half-on but not sealed, so that gasses can escape. (otherwise, it may explode!!)
6. After 3-4 days, press the rinds down again, and squeeze in some more lemon juice so they’re immersed.
7. Transfer to a cool larder or fridge for one month, after which, they’ll be preserved.

When they’re ready, you’ll discard the flesh and simply use the rinds, which can be rinsed if required, to remove some of the salt. Try it in salads, stews, soups and sandwiches. The preserved lemons will last in the fridge for about a year, but aren’t likely to get that far due to being too delish!

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