This week has flown by, probably because I have been so busy. Amongst other things I have started on my marmalade making marathon. As most of you know I make this to sell, to raise funds for my church, to make money for my village's own children's charity, and to sell at my sewing group to pay for the sugar I use in all the rest. Oh, and I keep just a few jars for our own use too!
This year I have struggled to get the bitter oranges so I was pleased when one of my sewing group friends brought me in two bags of oranges from her daughters land up in the hills, which she said were bitter. Unfortunately, when I got them home I found they were really sweet oranges from a tree that had perhaps been left to 'go wild', so the fruit was very sour, but not bitter. But I felt I should use them all the same, so I found a big root of fresh ginger which I chopped small and cooked in with the oranges. It didn't soften as much as I had hoped for, so I then pulverized it with my bamix, and added the pulp to the fruit. It has made some quite tasty marmalade, which I am sure I will be able to sell.
At the weekend we went to Robin and Julie's house for a choir 'between season' party. It stayed dry for us and we were able to spend most of the afternoon sitting outside, which was just as well as there were probably 30-40 of us. We all contributed some finger food and there was quite a feast. I made some empanadillas, which are tiny savoury pasties. Mine were filled with a touch of tomato salsa and my fish pate. When we left, Julie gave me some grapefruit that she couldn't use, and on Sunday another choir friend brought a big bag of lemons from her tree to church for me. So on Monday I put these with the rest of the sour/sweet oranges and made Three Fruit marmalade. I took ten jars to my group today and sold them before I had unloaded them from my bag, so I can now buy a few more kilos of sugar. I have promised to take some more next week.
Yesterday I went back to my friendly stallholder in the market, Josefina, who wasn't sure she could get bitter oranges for me this year, and she announced that she had 'found a different tree' and she produced three carrier bags full. This time they really are bitter ones. She doesn't understand why I am pleased with them, because to her they are bitter, so no good, and she never lets me pay for them. I managed to get a Spanish friend to explain to her about the charity that I make the marmalade for, so she doesn't think it is just for me to sell for my own profit. Then, this morning at my sewing group, another friend brought me in 2 kilos of kumquats, which she assures me make lovely marmalade. They are beautiful, unmarked and even in size. I haven't had kumquats for years, so I am looking forward to seeing how I get on with them. So here I am with my current supply of fruit, some bags of sugar and pans at the ready. I think I shall be busy again tomorrow!
Having stood bending over the kitchen work surface, chopping oranges all morning, I felt I needed a stretch on Monday, so Chris and I took the dogs for a walk over on the campo. It was so lovely over there. There was a chillyish wind blowing, but in sheltered spots it was really warm. The sky was blue with just a few fluffy clouds, and the mountains looked grand. They have so many heights and valleys and the late afternoon sun made patches of shadow on them. I love them because every day they look different. Some days they look dark and almost menacing, other days they are misty and insubstantial, and other days they are so clear you feel you should be able to see the people in the tiny villages dotted on their sides. This was quite a clear day and I took the opportunity to try some different settings on my new camera. In the distance we can see the little white village of Mojacar Pueblo, set up on a hill. From some angles it looks as though it is on the top of the mountain, but from a different direction it is dwarfed by the Cabrera range behind it.
We have had an exceptionally warm winter so far, (that's all due to change this weekend according to the forecast!), and all the wild flowers are blooming early. One field was bright yellow with oxalis and tiny orange marigolds, and in with them there were clumps of a lovely flower whose name I have forgotten, that has bright mauvy-pink flowers and deep blue ones, both at the same time. There were also lots of patches of wild lavendar in bloom and tiny pink thyme that make the dogs coats smell lovely when they brush through them. We had heavy rain and thunder storms on Saturday night, and the ground was still quite muddy, but it was good to be out and blow some cobwebs away, and the dogs had a lovely time sniffing after rabbits, and maybe a tortoise or two, although I suppose they should still be hibernating. I took a lot of photos, so rather than put all of them on here, I am making a folder for my gallery called 'Views from the campo'. Hopefully, if you click on this link you will see them.