wings and things

Chapter 26: Grapefruit marmalade [1978]

on September 9, 2021

Under the tutelage of Gar, I gradually learned to cook things like underdone scrambled eggs and salmon mornay on Anthony’s brand new Aga. He had bought this beautiful, bright red stove the year before I came into the picture and it was his pride and joy.

Every day, sometimes twice a day, he would polish the Aga which is why, to this day, it still looks new. It ran on kerosene and it was always on, warming the whole house. There was a boiling hot plate and a simmering hot plate, a roasting oven and, underneath, a slow cooking oven.

Anthony had some very strict rules about how to use the Aga which included not frying any food likely to sputter, never heating up milk, never leaving anything to boil unwatched, and definitely always cleaning its surfaces after cooking anything.

At the time the farm had a small orchard with several orange trees and a couple of grapefruit trees. One day, Gar decided to teach me how to make grapefruit marmalade. I wasn’t particularly excited about this idea until she said that Anthony loved it.

So we ventured out to the orchard, Gar with her walking stick, and me with my eagerness, and picked four grapefruit. Once back in the kitchen, Gar instructed me on how to cut up the grapefruit, how much sugar and water to add and I placed all of this in a large saucepan on top of the boiling plate of the Aga.

Anthony didn’t know we were doing this as he was milking the cows. I helped Gar to her bed for her afternoon nap and returned to the kitchen to watch the marmalade. After about half an hour, when the mixture still hadn’t boiled, I decided to go over to the dairy and fetch some milk.

As always, on seeing me with the milk billy, Anthony yelled “Jules!” and, as always, I fought the temptation to swoon. “We have a surprise for you,” I said shyly as he used a scoop to swish milk into the billy.

He grinned.

On returning to the house I was greeted with a strange smell and as soon as I entered the kitchen I realised with horror that the marmalade had boiled over and its syrupy overflow had not just soaked the top surface of the Aga but had bled into the hotplates.

The sense of panic was terrible. At any moment, Gar might wake up and in exactly an hour Anthony would be finished milking. I did my very best to clean up but the burnt sugar smell still permeated the house when Anthony came in.

He was not forgiving as he took the top of the Aga apart to clean the damage. Gar got up and frowned at me. I said the word ‘sorry’ a million times then got on my bicycle to ride home.

It was several weeks before I received another grin from Anthony.

5 responses to “Chapter 26: Grapefruit marmalade [1978]

  1. susanpoozan says:

    Oh dear, how unfortunate.

  2. Who I am says:

    Oh, I can just picture Ant’s face when he saw what happened!!!!

  3. tootlepedal says:

    A sticky situation.

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