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Stories and Stovies
Hamely Fair - Jams

Dundee Orange Marmalade

the picture of James Keiller

It’s not so much the words that I want you to see, as, of course, the picture of James Keiller, the wee "mair mi’ laddie" of my Granny’s story, and, more especially, I’d like you to take a good look at the drawing of Keiller’s arch because that’s the entry way, across the street from the Main Library, where my mother and grandmother went through when they were girls and young women to work as chocolate packers.
I feel like I grew up on the best jam in the world. I think I've already said the further away I got from Dundee the more I liked Keillor's Dundee Marmalade. But, that was never the problem with anything made by Robertson's.

Robertson's made the Lemon Curd I still love so much, as well as the raspberry jam that has always been my favorite, followed by blackcurrant jam. I don't think my mother and Granny ever bought jelly - we were true jam people. To us, a "jeely piece" (or jam sandwich) was two great thick slices of bakery bread, or a fresh roll, spread equally thick with the jam of the day.

My mother started me swimming in a swimming club when I was maybe about eight or nine. We'd go out to Lochee to the baths there - Mr. Hosie was the organizer and trainer of this "The Young Swimmer's Athletic Union." His daughter Moira went on to University to become a doctor and she was pretty close to Olympic quality. Anyhow, there was nothing better after the long bus ride or walk to the YSAU in Lochee to end your swimming night with a "shivery bite" of a jeely piece to handle that healthy hunger. Some kids liked butter on their piece, but I never did.

Sometimes we varied and got away from the sugar of the jeely piece to something more savory. This variety was provided by having a sauce or ketchup piece - the favored sauces being Heinz 57 or HP (Houses of Parliament) spread on top of their butter on their "pieces."

Here's another jam memory - as I already said, the best jam comes from Robertson's. Their trade mark was a gollywog - a little black doll doing all sorts of great activities, such as ice skating, playing football (soccer), hockey, etc. If your mother saved enough labels and sent them to Robertson's you could get this great little enamel gollywog brooch – just like the little label I’m putting in below this:

enamel gollywog brooch

I had a whole collection of these little brooches. And just the other day I bought some Robertson's jam from the import shop here in Phoenix, Arizona, and, lo and behold, there's an offer there to save labels, send a little money, and you'll get a golly brooch. Tell me that's not a bunch of memories. And also tell me if we could do this in America without ACLU, NAACP or some other alphabet soups becoming very, very upset.

But, before we begin with how to make marmalade, here is the one true story of how marmalade came to be called Marmalade, from my Granny who got it from her Granny and her Auntie Chat – It seems that James Keillor was a poor little Dundee lad, down on the docks one day with his mother when a ship came into the Dundee dock with a load of seville oranges. As the crate was being lifted off the ship it was somehow dropped and all these lovely oranges came spilling out. Mrs. Keillor told her wee boy, James, to gather up those oranges so she could take them home and make a jam. And as wee Jeemy was picking up the oranges, Mrs. Keillor, like many a Dundee mother, wanted him to move faster and gather more, so she extolled him "Mair, my laddie. Mair, my laddie.)

When she went home and created this wonderful jam from her Dundee kitchen it was named Marmalade after little Jeemy's efforts.

True story - don't pay any attention to what you read in the history books about Mr. Keillor's wife actually buying oranges!

Here's how to make Marmalade as in the Taste of Scotland cookbook:

2 lb Seville or bitter oranges
2 lemons
8 cups water
4 lb sugar

Wash the oranges and lemons and put whole into a large saucepan, add the water, and cover.

Bring to the boil and simmer for about 1:1/2 hours so that you can easily pierce the fruit. When they are ready, remove from the pan and let cool on a large dish.

Coarsely slice into the thickness of your choice. Remove seeds, or pips as they are called in Scotland. Add the pips to the juice, boil for 10 minutes then strain. Add the sliced fruit to the juice and bring to the boil.

Add sugar, and stir over gentle heat until dissolved. Then heat rapidly to a rolling boil and cook without stirring for about 1/2 hour until it begins to set (about 200 degrees).

A small spoonful put onto a cold saucer will "wrinkle up" when the dish is tilted is the marmalade is cooked enough. Pour into warmed jars and seal at once.

Makes you appreciate your marmalade, now, doesn't it!

I brought my family to Phoenix, Arizona, in 1987 from Salt Lake City, Utah, to accept a job as a social worker in a dialysis center. I think we’re settled here now and I don’t see myself moving out of Arizona. It’s just beautiful here – Phoenix especially is great in the winter time – unlike Utah, no snow to shovel.

There were so many citrus here when we came about 13 years ago – oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit – just like in the nursery rhyme:

Gay go up and gay go down,
To ring the bells of London town.

...Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clements.

Pancakes and fritters,
Say the bells of St. Peter's.

Sago sticks and an apple,
Say the bells at Whitechapel.

Now, these orchards are being ploughed under for homes, because Phoenix is the sixth largest city in America, 2.8 unemployment, and growing, growing, growing. But as long as we have our own orange and grapefruit trees, I’ll keep teaching my children about Dundee and its songs and stories, and when I send them out to pick the oranges I’ll be sure to say, like I did in this 1988 picture, "Mair, my lassies, Mair my lassies!"

My daughters in Arizona
My daughters in Arizona

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