Shannon here: Michelle Griep shares an excerpt from her latest Regency Romance plus a recipe for Marmalade. Comment or answer the question at the end of any post dated Jan 26 – 30 to enter the drawing for a copy of Brentwood’s Ward. Deadline: Feb 7th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Michelle:
It’s January . . . Need Some Sunshine in a Bowl? by Michelle Griep
There’s a scene in Brentwood’s Ward where the heroine wakes up in the hero’s bed. Don’t get your feathers too ruffled. He’s not there, nor has he been. Instead, someone else is. Here’s a peek . . .
Emily Payne’s eyes fluttered open, focusing on a plaster wall inches from her face. For a few moments, her gaze traced hairline cracks from nick to ding as she tried to pretend the pattern was the tiny yellow-flowered print that papered her room. It might have worked, were fatigue still fogging her brain. But the longer her eyes remained open, the more reality seeped in, hard and angular as the lump in the mattress biting into her hip. Still, there was a slight amount of comfort when she inhaled, the thin pillow smelling of Nicholas’s musky scent. Stretching, she rolled over, intending to ask him what the day would bring.
Instead, she gasped.
Fathomless blue-grey eyes stared into hers, half of one hidden by a swath of straight, dark hair. Emily clutched the blanket to her neck in reflex, though it was naught but a slip of a girl staring at her, perched on a chair next to the bed—the chair she’d last seen occupied by Nicholas. The girl couldn’t have been more than eight or nine, but judging by the tilt of her head and sober pucker to her mouth, she’d already lived a lifetime.
“Who are you?” Emily asked.
“Hope’s me name, m’um. Better than Nipper.” The girl leaned closer. “Don’t you think?”
Slowly, Emily lowered the blanket and rose up to settle on the edge of the bed frame. She’d slept fully clothed, so no need to worry about indiscretion, though she did methodically smooth out wrinkles from her skirt. As she did so, she scanned the small room for Nicholas’s muscular form. A study in futility, for she would’ve noticed him right off.
Not even his greatcoat remained.
The squeaky little voice pulled her attention back to the girl on the chair. “Oh. . . thank you. I vow, I must look a fright, though I suppose that doesn’t matter now. Could you tell me where Nic—” Emily bit her lip. Why did the man’s Christian name rise so easily to her tongue? Was this what came of sharing a bedchamber with him? She cleared her throat and tried again. “Where is Mr. Brentwood?”
“Dunno. Din’t tell me.” Hope hopped off the chair and walked the few paces over to the table. What a cryptic little mouse.
The fabric of the girl’s dress scraped over sharp shoulder blades as she reached forward. She pulled a drab square of cloth off a basket then uncorked a squat, green bottle. Apparently finished with her task, she turned and leaned back against the tabletop, crossing one ankle over the other. The pose added years to her small body. “Mr. B sent me to see to your needs. I brought ye some water to freshen up a bit, and a loaf of bread with some jam.”
You’ll have to read the book to find out where Nicholas Brentwood is off to, but in the meantime, you can whip up your own batch of jam just like Emily ate that morning.
Mrs. Makins’ Marmalade
1 pound ripe oranges (about 4 small/medium oranges – not navel)
3/4 cups sugar
½ cup honey
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
2 pint jars with lids
Wash jars and lids in hot, soapy water and set aside to dry. Place two small plates/saucers or bowls in the freezer.
Wash and dry the oranges. With a vegetable peeler, remove the zest, making sure to leave behind ALL the white pith directly beneath. Chop the zest – bigger pieces for chunkier marmalade, strips or bits for a more spreadable result. Set zest aside.
Cut the ends off the zested oranges and then cut off all the white pith from around each orange. Slide the knife down the sides of the orange, cutting just the thin layer of pith off, exposing the fruit. Working over a bowl to catch the juices, hold the peeled orange and cut out each section from the membrane holding the sections together. The orange segments should look like canned mandarin orange segments.
Drape a piece of cheesecloth over a bowl and set the membrane and any seeds in/on it. The pectin in these parts will help “set” the marmalade later.
Place the cup of water, sugar, honey and cardamom into a heavy pot. Add the juice/fruit mixture and the zest. Bring to a rolling boil.
Tie up the cheesecloth/pectin bag and add it to the pot.
Keep marmalade at a rolling boil for 15 minutes. Put a small spoonful of the mixture onto the middle of a chilled plate and swirl to distribute a bit. Drag your finger through the mixture. If a clean track is left behind, it’s done. If not, continue to boil for 5 more minutes and try again until it is set.
Remove cheesecloth and squeeze over pot, (be careful, of course, it’s hot. We pressed on it with the wooden spoon up against the side of the pan) then throw away. Remove marmalade from heat and let sit 5 minutes.
Stir marmalade and spoon into the clean jars. Put lid on the jars and store in fridge.
Eat your delicious marmalade on scones for breakfast! Or on English Muffins. Or eat it by the spoonful. Marmalade keeps a long time due to the citrus and sugar content. Note that this is refrigerator jam and hasn’t been heat sealed so it must be refrigerated.
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About the book – Brentwood‘s Ward: He’s there to protect her. She steals his heart . . .
Place an unpolished lawman named Nicholas Brentwood as guardian over a spoiled, pompous beauty named Emily Payne and what do you get? More trouble than Brentwood bargains for. She is determined to find a husband this season. He just wants the large fee her father will pay him to help his ailing sister. After a series of dire mishaps, both their desires are thwarted, but each discovers that no matter what, God is in charge.
Question: Do you prefer jelly, jam, marmalade, or preserves?