Year of Grace, Day 38. Glorious garnet

Strong winds and rain two nights ago have knocked down the Gloriosa lilies off their perch on the window sill outside. The cachepot broke, and now I know what caused the sound that woke me in the middle of the night. However, Miss Gloriosa has, miraculously, survived the trauma intact. She was even standing upright. Thanks to the Westerland rose nearby that the Gloriosa’s leaves had clasped, the plant itself is unharmed. I am so glad and grateful!

There are still a few blooms left on this glorious lily: one more bud waiting to open and then she can wind down towards her winter rest. One of the blooms has been snapped off by the wind and rain, and this I’ve put into a wineglass near my laptop to observe and enjoy. I’m thankful it was just the one. Now I’ve got Miss Gloriosa recovering from her shock in the warmth of the kitchen. Once all her leaves have fallen off, I shall move the pot with its corms to an unheated and dark room. Once in a while I shall water her pot a little, just to keep a bit of moisture on the soil. And when it begins to warm up outside, I shall take her out again to begin life anew.

Gloriosa lily showing spots caused by rain

Gloriosa lily showing spots caused by rain

Miss Gloriosa lily has had a good run this year, her second year with me. The first year she spent indoors, as it was my first time ever to have this lily. She was full of blooms when I’d bought her and I was anxious lest any late frost would come and harm her if she were placed outdoors. This year she has certainly enjoyed the spot I gave her – a relatively sheltered place where she can enjoy sun from midday onwards, though any strong sunshine is tempered by overhanging leaves from the yew and Philadelphus. The wall behind also gave off some stored warmth at night gained from the sun during the day. Miss Gloriosa obviously liked this particular spot by throwing off strong stems and plenteous blooms, and not a sign of pest or disease.

I was quite sparing with organic manure, having learned from the Kirengeshoma’s demise. I am still hopeful though, that it’s only the Kirengeshoma’s stems that have suffered and from the remaining roots, new growth may arise. I am that optimistic, perhaps too much so sometimes, about plants I have nurtured. I do check in on the pot where it is and encourage it with well-meaning questions (whispered, of course) about its health. The sad result of overfeeding plants, even with natural organic manure (a mix of chicken pellets and composted leaves) from good intentions has taught me a good lesson, and I am grateful for it. I remember my mother’s advice about her houseplants which I have not been practising: feed plants often but sparingly.

Other things to be grateful for: the quince jelly has turned out so well – it is a beautiful garnet red in the light. And where it has been cut or spooned into, it has clear facets — the sign of a good jelly. I did want the jelly to wobble just the tiniest bit, but I am not quibbling; this is perfection enough.  I am thankful that I followed my instincts and reduced the sugar called for.  I used only 250 grams sugar to 800 ml of juice. I’d started with about a litre and a half of juice (this much covered the quince slices in the pressure cooker) and boiled this down to concentrate the quinces’ natural pectin. The recipe, from a collection of British country recipes, would’ve called for 400 grams sugar for that quantity of juice. With the reduced sugar, the perfume and taste of the quinces shine through very clearly.  Spread on rice crackers atop a layer of cream cheese, it is lovely with coffee. And yes, one more naughty departure from a totally refined-sugar free regime; but hopefully the natural antioxidants from the quinces balance out the relatively small intake of sugar. Unrefined sugar — honey or palm sugar — may not have given the desired clear gem-like colour. It may be worth experimenting with the remaining quinces.

 

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4 thoughts on “Year of Grace, Day 38. Glorious garnet

  1. Nice to hear the Miss Gloriosa Lily survived the storm! Your quince jelly looks marvelous. I suspect that in old recipes, they put more sugar than seems necessary as it was a preservative back when there was no refrigeration available. These days (and especially if you’re going to consume it quickly), it’s simply not necessary.

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    • I agree. I also decided to try the vodka trick that I read about in an online umeboshi recipe. (The umeboshi and the pickling container were rinsed with vodka after being thoroughly washed with water.) Having dried and sterilized my jam jars (recycled from bought jam) in a 100 C oven, I swished the lids in boiling water and then vodka just before filling with the hot jelly mixture.

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