I recently took a trip to visit my beautiful 87 year old mother. She lives in a nursing home in Stawell which is a 500 plus kilometer drive from where I live. I thought it might be the perfect opportunity to take our three year old grandson, Cooper, for a little holiday, but chose not to tell her.
When I told mum that I would be visiting, I also told her that I had been making quince jelly, and slow cooking and bottling the fruit as well, because our beautiful old quince tree had been loaded – I think we picked two wheelbarrow loads! Mum loves quinces and asked if I could bring a jar of jelly and a small jar of the quinces. While the food at the nursing home is wonderful, she obviously doesn’t get the homemade treats that she used to make herself, not so long ago.
With all the plans made, accommodation booked, I set off making some stops along the way. At the halfway mark , a slight zig-zag across the eastern suburbs of Melbourne to collect Cooper’s belongings and then to pick him up from day care. I could finally relax – we chatted for the first hour or more until he fell asleep.
About 40 kilometers from our accommodation, we stopped at a supermarket where Cooper got to choose the food that we would be eating… Fortunately he likes fresh food, and the majority of the food was selected from the fruit and veg section, with a little from the meat, dairy and deli sections.
The final leg, yes… I had left home at 8:20 am and it was now close to 5 pm – a long day. Then just 4 km from our accommodation and the poor little boy was sick. So quickly pulled off to the side of the road, reached into the boot of the car and retrieved some clean clothes, wet wipes and paper towel, all was cleaned up and we were back on the road to our accommodation at Lake Fyans, in the Grampians, where I had booked a cabin. My sister, Jan, had also booked the cabin next door and she was sitting on the verandah reading a book when we arrived.
We said our hellos and quickly set about unpacking the car – anyone would have thought we had come for a month! But there was a big bag of books and toys for Cooper, Cooper’s day care bag with clothes etc as well as another bag of clothes and bits and pieces. Then there was the shopping we had done, the cool bag that I had packed at home, some reading material for me and of course, my clothes!!!
Inside the cabin, Cooper helped by unpacking his bags, and then helped me put the food away in the fridge and pantry, we did this as quickly as we could so that we could go for a walk along the beach of the lake.
What fun walking, with a three year old, in nature is. We taught him how to build and jump on sandcastles, then he decided to build sandcastles on my boots.
He saw kangaroos and started bounding around like a kangaroo. Of great intrigue were the grasses and the soft sand, the leaves, the trees and the birds.
Finally it was time to head back to the cabin and prepare dinner – the fresh air had created quite an appetite. Our food was simple – little sausages and vegetables and then lots of fresh fruit for dessert.
The following day we needed to prepare a birthday cake, Cooper’s favourite of course! (and Great Nana’s recipe) – I am going on holidays soon and I will not be able to visit mum for either her birthday, or Mother’s Day in May. Cooper helped whip the cream and then dusted the cake with icing sugar, taste-testing along the way.
Then with Aunty Jan, we all headed to Stawell to see Great Nana.
Great Nana was delighted with her surprise, we had cake, Cooper gave her her gifts, she and Cooper read some books, Cooper played on the floor with his toys and we talked and talked for quite some time, more than two hours, maybe closer to three.
Finally with the goodies from my larder stashed in mum’s cupboard, we decided that we should probably head back to the lake for a very late lunch and a rest.
That evening, Jan started preparing dinner, before I took over while she took Cooper to the beach again, (just across from the cabin), I looked up to this view…
I quickly turned everything off, put on my shoes and headed across to join them. Life is too short to miss such beautiful experiences and scenery. The sunset was the icing on the cake and the perfect ending to our little holiday, as first thing the next morning we had to pack up and head home.
Quince Jelly, always so popular as a spread on your toast, on scones, to enrich a sauce for game or on a cheese platter.
- 1.5 kg quinces
- Juice of a large lemon
Wash the quinces, taking care to rub off the soft down on the skin.
Chop the quinces into chunks taking care to remove any bad spots. Do not peel or core them.
Place them into a large pan and just cover with water. Add the lemon juice and simmer gently for about one hour, or until the fruit is soft and mushy.
Remove the pan from the heat and carefully pour the fruit and liquids into a jelly bag suspended over a large bowl. Leave to drain overnight.
The next day, measure the liquid and note how much there is. Then for each 600 ml of liquid you will need 450g of sugar. Measure out the required amount of sugar.
Pour the liquid into a clean pan and add the sugar. Heat gently, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved, then increase the heat and bring to the boil. Boil rapidly until setting point is reached.
Skim any scum from the surface using a large spoon.
Pour immediately into sterilised, warm jars and seal.
When cool, label, date and store in a cool, dark place.
- For "Setting Point" refer to Setting Point for Jams and Jellies on the Glossary page.
- If I want to cook the quince flesh for desserts or for bottling/canning, I just use the peel and cores to make the jelly with.
Until next time…