Life as I know It

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San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Marmalade Memories

"I am in love with this green earth."
Charles Lamb

Thank you dear friends for all your e-mails, letters, and gifts. Your words and appreciation are what keep me writing. You know who you are. Bonnie Jenuine, I love the petit point "tis a gift to be simple." That has always been one of my favorite Shaker sayings. Abel and Toni, thanks so much for the lighthouse book and all the information. Margie and Keri, your support is amazing. I appreciate you traveling to my book signings. Aunt Jenny, Jude, Nancy, Debra, Linda Finley, Sherry and Phil, Elizabeth, Marilyn, and so many more, you've enriched my life beyond words.

Step Into My Kitchen

My family recipes, lost for over 50 years, now reign over our kitchen. I mentioned a few months ago that we uncovered over 100 years of these treasures in a box in my mom's garage. Between the book, the supply of iron pans, and the charming green enamel coffee pot that once perced on my Grandmother Lovejoy's old Magic Chef–who could ask for more?

When I went on garden patrol yesterday morning, I stopped to talk to our navel orange. My conversation with this magnificent tree was one-sided, but it made up for its silence by sharing its cargo of indescribably delicious fruits.

I thumbed through the pages of our family recipes and found my Great Grandmother Abby Baker's secrets to the best marmalade. She developed this in Pasadena when she and other members of the Quaker faith moved from Chester Country, Pennsylvania, and settled into a colony of "friends."

According to her letters, the sight of oranges glowing against the dark foliage of the trees was "breathtaking"for someone used to the gray winters in Pennsylvania. But then, the sight is breathtaking for me too, and I grew up here.

Her recipe takes 3 days to prepare, but don't stop reading. They're 3 easy days with lots of resting in between the making of the jam and the final canning process.

Here is Great Gran's recipe as she wrote it. You won't find exact measurements, but I've never had a problem with the lack of them.

Three Day Marmalade

Day One

Gather 6 large navel oranges and 3 large lemons (ok, so buy them at the market)
Slice them fine, peels and all
Put them in a big pot and cover them with 6 quarts of water
Let stand for 24 hours

Day Two

Bring to a boil and boil gently until peel is tender
Let stand for 24 hours (cover pot with a dish towel)

Day Three

Measure out no more than 3 cups of pulp and juice into the kettle per batch (this is easiest way to do it)
Add an equal amount of sugar
Stir together
Boil hard and cook until it jells
Must come to a full rolling boil and must be able to drop off spoon
Pour into clean, sterilized jars and seal. Place upside down in hot water (I've never done this step)

Some people tell me that marmalade is an acquired taste. Well, luckily I acquired it when I was young, and I've never lost it. Is there anything better than popping open your own jar of marmalade and spreading it onto warm toast or a muffin? Sunshine captured in a jar. What could taste better?

Sending you all joys and PLEASE visit my new Lowe's garden blog and leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you here and there.


Rick said...

I just found your blog and the one you do for Lowe's. Congrats on your success!

Sharon Lovejoy said...


I just read your comment on the Lowe's blog. Thanks a lot and I DO remember you. I always wanted you to come work in our nursery when you graduated.

Keep in touch. It was great hearing from you.

All best,


Lori ann said...

An absolutely lovely post! Thank you for the Marmalade Recipe, I am writing it to my recipe cards as soon as i leave here.
I love the coffee pot and cookbook (i see alice waters book in the back ground, a favorite).
And oh! your oranges!
It IS a gift to be simple.

I'm off to your garden blog now!


Zuzana said...

I can not believe you have an orange tree growing in your garden. This is as exotic as it gets for me.
Loved the recollection of the marmalade preparation.;)

Cindy (Applestone Cottage) said...

Hi Sharon,
What a neat recipe! Oh, orange trees, how wonderful! I told my son in Phoenix he needed an orange tree and he said they warned him he would get roof rats! Have never heard of such a thing. But of course, I didn't want him to get roof rats. Strange, huh? It's rainy here and yucky too. Cindy

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

As usual, another wonderful post, with lovely pictures. I love that enamel coffee pot. The marmalade recipe sounds good. 'Sunshine captured in a jar'. That's fantastic.

Have a lovely week.


Nina Suria said...

Hello Sharon I love ur green enamel coffee pot, such a handsome fellow :p

p/s love ur writings too, keep it up :)


Storybook Woods said...

Oh I adore marmalade, three days very interesting. Thank you for posting xoxoxo Clarice

Janna Leadbetter said...

Lovely, Sharon! That coffeepot is awesome. Thanks for sharing the recipe, too.

I ordered Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars a few days ago, and expect it today or tomorrow. Now that spring is on its way, I'm excited to dig in with my daughters. :)

Going to check your Lowe's blog now!

Elizabeth and Gary said...

Hi Sharon,
I love Marmalade jelly and your Grandmohters recipe sounds wonderful and fun to make. My Mom used to can all the time when I was a little girl, I remember coming home from school and have all the cans lined up on the counter and also home made bread rising on the window seal. Those were the days!.
I am going to see your Lowe's blog now.
Take care and enjoy your day,
Hugs, Elizabeth

AnaGF said...

Dear Sharon,
I'm still here, though half submerged by incredible amounts of work, none of which related to painting or drawing... Oh well, better days will come and spring is coming too! Thank you for caring and thank you too for another beautiful post - I absolutely love your Grandmother's coffee pot and how I'd love to find a family recipe book like yours!

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

As you know jelly and jam are my middle names and I'm going to add marmalade too! I remembers me of the English countryside, the best. Can't wait to make it!

Erin | Bygone Living said...

Thank you for the recipe- those fresh oranges look lovely♥

Jenny said...

Hi Sharon, thanks so much for visiting my blog because now I have discovered your treasure of a blog.

Hindsfeet said...

Oh Sharon! What a FIND!!! A real treasure trove! You should treat us to a "Julie and Julia"-esque reveal of your little gems, going through them one by one and expounding here with pictures and details! I'd tune in EVERY day! : )

Is it something that one might think of publishing?

Oh how fun : )

Kathi D said...

Oh! That coffee pot is magnificent!

Sharon Lovejoy said...

For "Hindsfeet" and others who have written. I keep a journal and will tell about the findings eventually.

If you look in my newest book the open journal with the lovely coral earrings, necklace, etc. were also found in the garage. I had things restrung and they were tucked in an envelope in the journal for my granddaughter Sara May to have on her 18th birthday, which is also when I am giving her the journal full of memories and heirloom treasures.

I still shake my head in wonder when I run my hands over the satin finish on Grandmother's iron Dutch Oven and skillets. What history they must hold. Oh, and her sapphire blue turkey roasting pan, which I now use for chickens and turkeys. And her china, her little wooden cooking tools. The best memories.


One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

I have just read your last several entries - I am at a loss for words.
You speak to my heart. The treasures - how wonderful. The recipe - I can smell the oranges - The bowl of sea treasures - you are special to this One Woman.
Wish you could put me in your pocket!!!

Aunt Jenny said...

Oh marmalade...I am so happy that I aquired a taste for it very young too. My grandma made it when I was a kid and I made and canned my first batch as a 19 year old new mother. I will be trying your recipe soon. All of my kids but one (the youngest) love marmalade too. I miss having citrus trees in my own yard but having jars of homemade marmalade is the next best thing, right? I loved this post!

Anonymous said...

I must go back and read about your discovery. How fun. What an interesting heritage you have.

The recipe looks delish!

I'll check out your Lowe's site. Congrats.

Deborah aka Miss Bee said...

Sharon, I am so happy that you came to my blog and spotted the Country Kitchens book! I've had this book for years and years and it's always been one of my favorites. to know that I've been introduced to someone whose work is in that book makes it even more special to me. I'll take time this afternoon to go through it to look for your home and garden. I want to read through your blog also. How exciting!

Deborah in NC
Miss Bee's Haven

Thea said...

I love toast and marmalade and butter. My dad, who is 91 this year, loves it, too and we MUST have some in the house when he comes to visit. I have many food memories from my dad. Whenever we went sleigh riding, we were rewarded by raisin toast with butter and cinnamon with our hot chocolate. And now, many years later, after breakfast we read the morning paper, my dad and I, and have toast and marmalade for dessert. Thanks for the recipe.

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi Thea,

Tried to drop you a note, but you don't have a profile or e-mail contact.

I love the picture you painted of you and your Dad reading the paper and sharing toast and marmalade.

All joys,


Anonymous said...

It is uncanny how we are all into childhood memories of late. Hubby and I were just reminiscing moments with our grandparents. My earliest memory is going to the strawberry patch with my grandmother. She would pick and I would eat. Umm! I can almost taste them now. When we were older, we helped her can peaches. We were allowed to eat the ones that were too ripe. When it was all over, we were full of peaches.

azplantlady said...

Hello Sharon,

I am so glad you took the time to leave a comment on my blog so that I could visit yours. I love country living and attended college in Santa Barbara. As a California native, SLO has always been one of my favorite destinations. I look forward to your future posts and seeing more of your homes in both CA & ME.

Nancy Yoakum said...

That is such a great story about finding your family recipes! That would make me so incredibly happy to have something like that happen. I ahve zero recipes from either one of my grandmothers, so I can only imagine your excitement.
I too, love marmelade, expecially on a good piece of toasted, buttered sourdough bread!

I can't believe you used to live in Cambria. I used to live in Morro Bay in my youth. We still love to go there and eat at Lynns. So many cute shops. Wonder if our paths ever crossed?


softearthart said...

Hi from New Zealand Thanks for following my blog, love and light Marie

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Hi Sharon, What a wonderful view you have right outside your window! Do you have an English background? I noticed my ex English MIL and ex-step MIL always said "marmalade" whereas North Americans tend to preface it with "orange." In any case, it's hard to get the right oranges for it here.

Thanks for the comment in my blog about nasturtiums. I don't have any areas with a ton of full sun, so mine don't really get long enough to pick... but I'll see what happens and try to root them as you suggested.

Maryjane-The Beehive Cottage said...


Sharon, are one of the wonderful friends that Susan has written about in her "Girlfriends Forever"?

Sweet pictures of the two of you at your book signing! How fun!


Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

How neat to have found the family recipes! I don't think I've ever tried marmalade. It really doesn't look too complicated to try. Maybe my tiny lemon tree will give us the lemons needed for the recipe.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

Thanks for sharing this family recipe! What a treasure and something I could try living here in Florida! ♥

the wild magnolia said...

How very dear to uncover the past and place it in your daily life.