Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Bitter Orange Marmalade

Inspired by beautiful recipes and a tree full of bitter oranges, this weekend we made jam.
Jammin' (or preserving as formally known) is what Tara considers "A lost Art". And i think i have to agree with her there. After studying up (because believe me, this is not child's play) I felt i had the basics under control. I'm worried that this might become an obssession
Bitter Orange Marmalade recipe
You will need about 6 oranges
Some gauze or a piece of muslin
Some string (preferably not dyed)
(for every kilo of oranges you will need 3 liters of water and 2.5 kilos of sugar)

Step 1. Wash and dry oranges

Step 2. Using a hand juicer cut oranges in half and juice. Pour juice into a big plastic bowl (Not seeds!). Set aside seeds in a small bowl - do not throw away as they are a key ingredient.

Step 3. Slice very thinly the rind and the remaining bits stuck on the rind and toss into bowl with juice.

Step 4. Make little baggies of seeds. The seeds of oranges contain pectin which when mixed with the acidy oranges will produce a lovely gel that in turn makes the jam jammy. it is very important to not skip this step. i used 10 x 10 cm gauze strips and put four baggies into my bowl.

Add half the water. Cover and let sit in a cool place for 24 hours.

Step 5. Put the mix into a pot and bring to a low boil until the pieces of rind are soft and smooth and squish a bit when you squeeze them between your thumb and forefinger. This should take at least an hour and maybe a quite a bit more.

Step 6. Now remove your little seed packs and squeeeeeze out all of the jelly substance. Try to get as much out as you can, not only cause it's fun, but also cause it helps.

Step 7. Add the sugar, making sure it all dissolves and doesn't stick to the pot.

Step 8. Turn the heat up until it is at a full boil. Now you want to turn it down so that it remains at a "rolling boil". This part is left up to your instinct. Or at least that is what i'm led to believe. Does it feel like it's rolling? Does it sound like it's rolling? gooood. This is my impression of a "rolling boil".

Now the tricky part is to understand when it's done. One trick is to put a few saucers in the fridge and when you think it may be thickening and becoming syrupy you spoon a bit onto a cold saucer and put back in the fridge for 2 - 4 min. When you take it out again you should see a thin layer on top of the marmalade, like a thick skin. If you put the plate on it's side, it should wrinkle.

Once you reach this point, you want to pour the marmalade, while still hot into sterilized jars left to dry in a warm oven. and then process for about 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.

And then you will have made marmalade!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Get to know your bike.

get to know your bike by taking parts of it apart and putting it back together again.
Someone with some knowledge
Paper Towels
Grease in a spray form
Grease in a tube form
Grease all over the place
Special soap to remove grease
A box of tools
More tools
More grease
Trusty butter knife

When Tara got to town and inherited caitlin's bike, there was so much joy in the idea. having a bike. biking around rome. becoming fierce. i am glad for cait that her bike didn't just rust away and die in the fao bike parking area. and i know she misses it. so it must bring some comfort to think that it's merely being kept safe for her and it will be here for her if ever she pops back in... crazy chain 'n'all... in the mean time my Schwinn cruiser had become sluggish, even obstinate - at times refusing standing pedaling, at times refusing abrupt braking maneuvers. we thought, what a great time for a tune-up. and what do you know? peppe was free.

so thus began the great bike tune-up day 1. the day started with getting said bikes into upside down position. aptly performed by star mechanics 1 and 2. (who later discovered much easier method than wresting the thing into sideways first then arms all around oh - crap - flipping over i go i'm going over it no i've got it yeah there we go i'm fine that was easy i'm fine peppe and i didn't scratch my ankle with the pedal doing something you consider easy no i didn't that was already there thank you). then step two we go purchase beer and snack, leaving peppe to work out some details. step three. this is where it got interesting. t's got the tire off, tools all over the place, putting in new tube, adding tire back on, pumping, nozzles. looks like a pro. she's got it all under control.

i've got my bike upside down unscrewing all kinds of things and leaving them in order to screw back on. greasing. cleaning. we literally worked wonders. peppe was there as a guide and very useful in flipping bikes upright and pumping tires. we'll give him a little bit of credit for that part, i guess... well he was also doing a small bit of instructing.

needless to say, in the end, the prettiest cousin bikes sat, looking adoringly at us for our hard work, patience and love. and for this we hope they will support our bums through many a trafficy roman day.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Uncaged Tiger...

No longer munchkins. Will now be refered to as big cats. wild cats. or just cats. Here you see the cats sitting in their dad's super-hot truck.

Well, I had a lovely saturday and on sunday i managed to skype, video-style with my sister, Erin. She had me close to tears describing the scene in Melrose at the wrestling event that her and dad had just come back from. i really wish i could be a part of the cheering squad for these events as it seems i have family that might just have a serious future in this sport. Thankfully, dad has become an amazing sports photographer... She was recounting the tension, the steam, the intensity of the auditorium, as she explaining the face of my "sweet" (really he's a devil, but a cute one) nephew and the utter concentration that he was maintaining during these long moments of a strenuous, struggling, tiring hold. Suddendly his eyes changed, his face became red and there was this clarity that everyone could see... and then he threw the other guy on the mat. BAM!
it was referring to this exact moment when she looked to dad for his exact words... "dad, what did you say Dillon reminded you of?" To which, Dad replied, "An uncaged tiger. He was like an uncaged tiger - Like a tiger freed from his cage." My god what have i missed? Luckily, I think that very look was captured on film. I am so very, sublimely, ultimately proud of my ferocious cat. Dillon, the uncaged tiger?

Needless to say the he tied for FIRST place. i think this may be the beginning of something big.

Stay tuned for news from the girls basketball court.....

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Duxbury Girlz...

This is where we are from...
I would describe duxbury as a nice, small town. the sea is beautiful and it's very, very new englandy. there is a strange tradition of riding out ONTO the beach in your suv's and trucks that is hard to belive. it's not the most sustainable event, but you do have a great time doing it. i miss duxbury.

I've gotten some updates about what my girls are up to and i found it so interesting and even funny and definitely shareable that i thought i would make them all famous and put them up on my blog! i guess we don't usually talk to each other that much about what regular days are like... so here you have it! we'll start things off with Al.

ALEX - Alexandra Michelle Muenze
A few days ago their childhood obesity campaign started at work. This is the website that Alexandra did (don't worry, a webmaster actually made it, she just wrote it) http://www.metrowestkids.org/, and below is the first billboard going up in the next few days all around the towns here. they have gotten lots of press in papers here, the globe, channel 5 etc. Shortly thereafter another email explaining that they were on the front of boston.com and then shortly after that no one could get in touch with her cause the press was banging down her door!! now she's pretty much famous in the metro-west area.

HAGS - Erin Hagerty -
Erin recently created, in one afternoon, the most successful email campaign thus far for her company which sells interactive portable whiteboard solutions (which are very cool!)! And the sales are already pouring in! This is the first time she truly took control of the templates - all images (including the signature) are totally erinized using graphic design and software. Here is a movie clip that a school in Virginia made about mimio for their web site - see for yourself just how cool interactive portable whiteboards are!

LOU - Louisa Smith
Louisa is "just learning for the sake of learning really" and doing little that means anything besides a consulting project for Iams dog food. its still sort of a grind and full of constant embarrassing moments... a few days ago she had to give a little speech to an amphitheater.
as for fun.... don't worry! she went to Montreal with 200 classmates last weekend and ran around and went to hockey games and all stayed in the same hotel! Then she went to the samples concert over at Killington last Thursday. Oh yes, there was a "beach party" on Saturday
here at school...dressed up in summer crap like a looser and danced around to steel drums. John came cause he loves dress up events.* i just LOOOOVE these photos!!!

* i made that up cause i thought it was funny. john did not visit because he loves dress up events, but rather cause he wanted to hang out with lou.

Jo - Josie Hewitt
miss josie has just returned from a biz buying trip in Tuscon, AZ. She bought enough beads to start her spring/valentines day collection! http://jojolovesyou.com Her awesome creations are bejeweling the necks, wrists and ears of only the hippest chicks in town!!
a few of my favs are:

** I should probably note that all of this is pretty much direct quote. i'm not that clever.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Hiking near Tivoli

Went for a beautiful hike on saturday near Tivoli. It was so lovely and we saw all kinds of furry horses!!! the weather was warm and there were crocuses everywhere!

And we all went home at the same time...

Friday, February 02, 2007

From Week of Joy!

These are some photos that i'm finally getting around to posting from what i have termed the "week of joy". it was a crazy, crazy time.

That's christian and nano sharing the couch with simon. her bed was stolen by kate and dave.

Christian, Peppe, Francesca and Alana at the Pincio... for sunset.This was from a day trip to Amatrice where we all ate ridiculous amounts of food.

alana and francesca dropped a euro in the bucket for me to take the cutest picture of them that ever existed. guess what he did when we dropped the coin in... you'll never guess! Caitlin and Stef share the love on one of the crazy nights that followed their wedding.