Him: Why have you bought ten organic lemons... and dare I ask about the vodka?Me: To make limoncello for Christmas gifts... obviously.
You mean the stuff that everyone brings back from their first Italian holiday only to sit at the back the in-laws' booze cupboard for the next twenty years?Mmmmn-yah...
The stuff we didn't even drink in that place in Naples where they kept trying to hand it out for free?It's for putting in all those pretty blue beer bottles you got through a few months ago.
No-one in the history of the world actually likes limoncello...But they might from a pretty blue bottle. Maybe?
...because even the stuff made by actual professionals in actual Italy with actual lemon trees tastes like mosquito repellent.
But that's not really relevant where homemade Christmas gifts are concerned. They're about forcing your friends and relations to rave about "how fabulous it is to get something homemade darling", and "oh aren't you sweet, how did you know I love blue glass!" Before shoving them at the back of their drink cupboards for the next twenty years.
And a few of my friends don't even drink.
Making stuff I hate seems to have been the theme for this October holiday. Because at the end of the day, it was more about keeping my five year old's hands busy while I nursed the dragon baby for two solid weeks. The end products of all our industry were, like homemade limoncello, frequently irrelevant. Mixing and casting tiny clay bricks with which to build a tiny brick house was a particular low point for me. (No, I am not even kidding. I now have a renewed respect for Lego.)
And Halloween forced me into my least favourite activity. AGAIN. Namely, sewing eyesight-sapping black fabric together with black thread in what's left of the failing autumnal daylight and 10 minutes before we have to leave for the party. This year it was in aid of a bat costume. Next year it's going to be a white ghost suit and a trip to the optician, not necessarily in that order.
But in the (ahem) "spirit" of Halloween (yes, that's right, I'm allowed to snarl and you won't even know if I'm hating on Halloween or just being scary), here's a last-minute party snack idea if you need one before the big night. Now I know that Halloween is an exercise in stuffing kids so full of refined sugar that they vomit on the neighbours' carpets (I've done Halloween "American-style" once before and it was simply terrifying) but this has the advantage of being a snack that children are attracted to while remaining sugar-free and fruit-based. Just call me Scrooge... sorta.
two packets of jelly powder (I used Hartleys sugar-free sachets in Strawberry and Blackcurrant)
very sharp knife
ice cream scoop
two 6-hole muffin trays
- half the orangesI'm already having ideas about using this technique for other holidays - little sparkly clementines for Christmas perhaps, or fuchsia dragonfruit for Chinese New Year?
- scoop out the flesh into your bowl (I found an ice cream scoop ideal for this) and juice the pulp roughly (just squeeze it with your hands)
- balance the half skins in the muffin trays
- make up a slightly-stronger-that-usual mix of jelly (you want it to be firm enough to cut well: I used 200ml boiling water to dissolve the jelly powder and then topped up to 350ml with orange juice from the pulp)
- pour into the orange skins and refrigerate overnight
- once thoroughly set, place flat side down on a chopping board and slice in half with your sharpest knife
Of course it goes without saying: I hate jelly. So I have no idea how this tastes. Can't be any worse than limoncello though. Can it?