We all have our idiosyncrasies …


I just seem to have more than the average person…  and bad habits, but we won’t go into them.

Back to my idiosyncrasies, it is a much safer topic.  I don’t like to have too much food in the freezer or pantry or too many knickers or t-shirts in my drawers (too many cookbooks is just fine, as is too many kitchen gadgets).  If I think I have too much or too many of something, I get stressed.  I have been particularly stressed since I started growing tomatoes … I certainly have too many preserved tomatoes in the pantry. 🙂

I don’t know why it stresses me.  I hope it is because I don’t want to have too much when others (most in this world) have too little but I am guessing it is more deep-seated than that.

I think it has something to do with the fact that I also don’t like throwing out food.  It is great now that people are becoming more aware that the earth has limited resources so I can argue my idiosyncrasy is based on the fact that resources went into growing/producing that food and, therefore, the food should be used wisely.  But my idiosyncrasy was around long before people were worried about the earth’s limited resources.

It could be the fact that my mum lived through the depression and so valued everything she had.  It could be that my dad was very thrifty.  It could be that my dad died when I was very young so there wasn’t much money to be had or it could be that I am just a little weird.

Having three dogs has really aided this idiosyncrasy.  If there is excess of any fruit or vegetable in the fridge or freezer, it goes into a big pot of food I cook up for the dogs each fortnight.  Today, the pot included pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, zucchini, beetroot, beans, parsley and half a jar of nectarine chutney (that wasn’t a great success), along with the usual protein and carbohydrates.

But there is one thing the dogs don’t abide – marmalade.


I made this mediocre mandarin marmalade in 2003 (yes, that was 2003), and still it goes on.  I think after the first taste I determined that it wasn’t the best marmalade I had tasted so the first jar languished in the pantry for an inordinate amount of time.  Eventually, I started looking for recipes that had marmalade in them to use it up.  That was 12 years ago and still the jars of marmalade linger.


It is nearly solid, brown and all crystalised.  But still I won’t throw it out.  Resources went into growing those mandarins and making that marmalade and I intend to respect them.  🙂  One of my favourite marmalade recipes is lunch box cookies from the Australian Women’s Weekly Cookbook (1979 edition) on which I wrote a post in April, 2013.  Just last week, a reader, Lesley, left a comment, thanking me for the recipe and telling me that it has been her favourite biscuit recipe for 40 years.

That reminded me why I had made the recipe in the first place – to use up some mandarin marmalade.  I was on a mission.  Not long after I read Lesley’s comment, a batch was in the oven.  And then the first thing I did when we arrived back in Perth was make another batch.  I explained to Maus the reason for the abundance of lunch-box cookies.  She was not perturbed.

The marmalade is absolutely fine in biscuits.  I either put it in the microwave to melt the sugar crystals before I add it to the biscuit mixture or I add it to the creamed butter and sugar and continue beating until all the sugar is dissolved.  Apart from the obvious benefit of using up the marmalade, the biscuits are very good.  I have been replacing the cup of raisins with ½ a cup of choc chips and ½ a cup of sultanas.  I think I will stay with that amendment.

After 12 years, I am down to 1½ jars of mandarin marmalade.  For 12 years, I haven’t bought a jar nor made another batch of marmalade.  I have another rule: I can’t buy something when I already have some in the pantry.  Luckily, over the years, friends and family members have given us several jars of nice marmalades so we haven’t been starved of it.

Next year, the mandarin marmalade may be all gone. I may even make another batch of marmalade.  If I do, it should last me for the next decade.


33 thoughts on “We all have our idiosyncrasies …

  1. Marmalade is great in bread and butter pudding. I make bread and butter pudding to use the spare bits of bread that do not get used as breadcrumbs, croutons for salads etc…

    I have the same sort of problem although not as bad… but my Mum and Dad both grew up without a father… My Dad’s dad was a country school teacher who died in a car accident. They had no house because the replacement school teacher moved into the school teacher house they lived in. Five boys youngest a few months old. Back in the days when there was no help much from govt. Mum’s dad died and her mum was samoan. So English was her third language and she was in Australia with no family and 4 small kids. Both parents learnt to make do in different ways. My Dad still cannot throw out a plastic bag, he can put glass in recycle now. He has a drawer of bread ties and rubber bands from vegetables and all that stuff. A bag of bags. He even washes any zip seal bag and dries it over a glass to reuse.

    • Hiya Janis (?) Don’t laugh, I wash zip seal bags too 🙂 At least now I can say it is to reduce the amount of plastic out there and not that I am a tight arse :).

  2. Marmalade is great in bread and butter pudding(to use up the spare slices of bread because making breadcrumbs and croutons for salad etc does not use it all)…

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  6. Lots of preserved tomatoes Glenda… what is your favorite way of preserving them? Marmalade for 12 years, I think I would have been scared to eat it. I love that we are all so different… that’s what makes us special 🙂

  7. That has made me laugh – I can’t believe the jar is 12 years old and still in the cupboard. Anne’s courgette & lemon one sounds good. Have you tried tomato jam with your excess toms? When are you setting up a market stall?

    • Hi Nancy. We don’t eat much jam here so I don’t think tom jam is a good idea. I would just get stressed about all those jars of jam going to waste.:)Anne’s courgette and lemon does sound good though they don’t ripen at the same time so it might be a bit tricky.

  8. I always used to make large batches of jams and chutneys, and could never bear to throw out any no matter how long it took to wade through it. I now only make small batches of things. If it is really good I will make more. The exception is tomato relish and tomato sauce. Then I make loads because we use a lot of this. I recently discovered that you can put jams etc in the compost. The bacteria love the sugar and it moves the pile along that little faster. There are a few jars in my pantry earmarked for the compost.

    When I have lots of tomatoes and cannot be bothered bottling anymore, I slow roast them then freeze them. These are great in pastas, stuffed focaccias or really anywhere you might use a sundried tomato. The child whizzes these with cream cheese to make a dip for her sandwiches. And if you are really sick of the tomatoes then feel free to drop them off at mine on the way through 😉

    • Hi Ruth, And make sure it is not mandarin marmalade. I do fancy lemon marmalade and I believe marmalade from Seville oranges is good. Anne’s suggestion of Zucchini and lemon sounds cool.

  9. Glenda, you are hilarious! I know you can’t bear to throw anything out or waste it, which makes the fact that you are the world’s bloody best vegetable gardener all the funnier! Poor Maus – ok, now we need to squeeze 725 pomegranates and after that, we’ll crawl on our hands and knees and gather every last caper. 🙂 I think your cookies look most fine and I think you are just too wonderful for words! xxx

  10. The G.O. loves marmalade but even we have a backlog in the pantry… that’s what happens when word gets out. Great idea using it up in biscuits. I also use marmalade/jams gently swirled through plain vanilla cake or on top. Chutneys etc I add to rissoles-meatballs-meatloaf. I also hate throwing them out, even if they are very badly homemade gifts and inedible… but there are limits!
    If the G.O. was asked he’d tell you that you’re in good company with your idiosyncrasies. As I said to the kids when they stayed with us… “there’s only one rule… actually no, there’s a few…”. And then there are the guidelines aka idiosyncrasies:)

    • Ella, you make me laugh. We all have them. We always think of homemade produce as something special but sometimes it just ain’t …. Chutney is easier to get rid off. Maybe I should add it to my rissoles too.

  11. I loath waste too Glenda, maybe it’s something to do with our age and the appreciation of every little morsel in the kitchen that our parents instilled in us. Luckily my cumquat tree has cropped badly the last couple of years so my marmalade stash has diminished a little. I have that WW cookbook too but had forgotten about the biscuits,mthanks for the reminder, I’m sure that I can convert it.

    • Sandra, I have 3 lemon trees, 2 orange trees, a cumquat tree, a cumquat finger lime cross and a Rampur lime. My neighbour has about 20 citrus trees. It is a loosing battle. I should just admit defeat.

  12. I recently had a big pantry clean out and tossed out a few jams in the direction of the chooks. A friend was aghast. They were only four years old. So- 12 years, you’re doing well!!
    Another good thing to do with the excess tomatoes is to bag them up and take them to a food exchange. I also noticed once, when wandering down a country lane, a big box of lemons, with spare bags and a sign which said- ‘Please take a few’.

    • Hi Francesca I would love to leave a box out but we live in a battle-ax block in a culdesac so there is no through traffic. The day before we come back from Perth we pick and then distribute it to all our neighbours but then when we go back to Bridgetown there is piles again.

  13. Our idiosyncrasies make the world go round. Wouldn’t it be boring if we were all the same? My mother also lived through the depression and I don’t remember anything getting thrown out – from the fridge or especially clothing. She would make soups from anything & everything in the fridge before going to the market for more food and I was always amazed at what she could do with a few scraps. I was the middle daughter & since my mother could sew like crazy, it was rare for me to have something brand new, just for me. Just the other day I was laughing with my husband about the old boots we used to wear when we were kids. They were the kind that you pulled over your shoes or wore about 6 pair of heavy socks inside & they were made out of rubber. If you had the misfortune of poking a hole in one of them, then you simply got a plastic bag pulled over the boot & a big rubber band at the top to hold it on.

  14. This recipe sounds ideal for my excess Seville marmalade. I, too cannot abide waste, but luckily I have friends with a tiny garden – not fit for much fruit or veg growing – who are grateful for any jams or other preserves I can pass their way! It is the only way I keep my pantry under control. I also agree with Ann – try something else next year. Her courgette and lemon one sounds interesting.

  15. Glenda! Don’t make another batch of mandarin marmalade – please try something else. I can’t bear to think of you wading though another batch for the next decade. How about a light and fruity three fruit marmalade or even courgette & lemon. I shall check out the recipe for cookies as I’d like to make a batch of Seville orange marmalade (they look so appealing in the shops) but we’re still eating 2013. Marmalade Steamed Pudding tonight, then maybe cookies tomorrow.

    • Hi Anne, I am never making mandarin marmalade again. I meant another batch of marmalade. My neighbours have a Seville orange tree, that is a possibility. Your courgette and lemon sounds good.

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