I don't know about other former Bed & Breakfast owners, but our reason for letting go of East Hampton's celebrated Georgica Bend B&B wasn't the reason most people always assume. "It must have been a lot of work!" is the general feeling. Sure it was work, but who's afraid of that? No, the fear was financial. It's nerve-wracking to make a go of a year-round business when the income is totally dependent on two months, July and August.
But we'll always have the memories and the recipes. And my brother's rambling house on Cape Cod will always have the beds and stray pieces of furniture.
This recipe for Blood Orange Marmalade calls to mind a colorful weekend when thirteen vibrant young Pakistani-Brit birds winged it across the pond for a "Sex and the City" weekend (their words) in the chic playground of Long Island's South Fork. Arriving at JFK, they piled into a white stretch limo (very SITC) and hied it out to EH. They treated themselves to a day of beauty (very SITC) at a day spa in Hampton Bays (not SITC at all). They danced the night away in bottle service clubs (SITC? Check!) and lolled around the pool eating loaves of toast and smoking Pall Malls, Carrie Bradshaw-esque before she kicked the nasty habit.
The 'Bend wasn't a large place but not matter, the lovely young birds piled into three rooms. Steve thought it best not to try to make them up, so the exact sleeping arrangements remain a bit of a mystery.
We had other guests that weekend, including a Grandma, mom and young child trio. On Saturday, around 1 or so, just as the London lovelies were rousing themselves from the previous evening's revelry, Grandma and grandson (age 4) returned from lunch in the village, having had a perfectly pleasant time at Rowdy Hall, home of the best burger from Montauk to Quogue.
And Granny and the kid had such fun talking the lively young couple at the next table. Seems they were charmed with the little boy. Oh, and they were TV people, you know, that girl who's on that show, you know, the one with all the single girls? I remember, it was that Sarah Jessica Parker and her husband (Matthew Broderick).
Thirteen slightly hung over faces ran through four of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross stages of grief: Denial: this can't possibly be true! Anger: It's so unfair this SITC encounter was wasted on this old lady and the brat! Bargaining — Alaysha, Asha, Shairi, Shayari, if we get dressed now we might be able to catch them! And then Depression, deep and dark and lasting.
Yet who knows, maybe Acceptance settled in on their way home, 45,000 feet over the Atlantic.
In any case, here's a Georgica Bend recipe for Blood Orange Marmalade.
Blood Orange Marmalade
2 pounds blood oranges left whole
2 large lemons, whole
8 cups water (about)
8 cups sugar (4 pounds)
Wash the oranges and lemons well, removing any stems and place the whole fruits in a pot with enough water to cover. Bring to boil and then simmer, partially covered with the pot lid, until a knife will easily pierce the fruit, This takes about an hour and a half.
Remove the fruit to cool, saving the liquid. When they are cool cut the oranges and lemons in half the long way, then cut the halves into very thin slices. Pick out the seeds and return them to the pot with any accumulated juices from the slicing. Boil hard for 10 minutes. This adds bitterness. Strain out the seeds. Add the fruit slices and bring back to the boil.
Add the sugar, stirring until it dissolves, and continue cooking at a fast boil–stirring to prevent scorching–until it starts to thicken and its temperature reaches 222º F. about 10 degrees higher than water's boiling point. Continue to cook at this high temperature, stirring frequently, for 20-25 minutes for a nice thick marmalade. Less if you like it looser.
Remove from heat, skim off any foam, pour at once into hot sterilized 1/2 pint jars with 2-piece screw band lids, leaving 1/2 inch of headroom. Adjust lids; process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes.
Makes 8 – 10 jars.