Looking Up, Looking Down

Bril­liant con­cepts are often described in ris­ible ways: ‘push the envel­ope’, ‘wake up and smell the cof­fee’, ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’, ‘let’s make a plan going for­ward’ and ‘blue-sky-think­ing’. I aim to do all of those things most of the time, but nev­er, ever will you get me to use any of those phrases. Take ‘blue-sky-think­ing’ for example: the notion of devis­ing cre­at­ive ideas that are unfettered by the mundane or the ped­es­tri­an. The concept is per­fect, but the cliche-rid­den pack­aging kills it stone dead. But then it struck me that per­haps ‘blue-sky-think­ing’ would be bet­ter if I rever­ted to tak­ing it lit­er­ally rather than meta­phor­ic­ally. Lying on a forest floor and star­ing up through the can­opy of trees at the blue, wintry sky bey­ond is as good a way of think­ing new things as any and it cer­tainly took some of the sting out of the cliche.

To be abso­lutely truth­ful, the idea that came to me while I looked up through the can­opy of leaves wasn’t exactly revolu­tion­ary. All I kept think­ing as I stared up at the sky was that look­ing up is the same as look­ing down — it’s the simple action of tak­ing a dif­fer­ent view­point that counts. To prove my the­ory, I’ve been star­ing down into a pot of home-made orange curd to see what inspir­a­tion might come. My orange-pot-think­ing pro­duced two and a half decent ideas — I will tell you about them in my next post. In the mean­time, here’s my recipe for orange curd to help you with a little orange-pot-think­ing of your own.


Makes four or five 200ml jars

  • 4 large oranges — finely grated zest and juice
  • Juice of 2 lem­ons
  • 400g caster sug­ar
  • 300g unsalted but­ter, chopped
  • 4 beaten eggs
  • 3 extra yolks, beaten

Add the but­ter, sug­ar, lem­on juice, orange zest and orange juice to a pan and heat gently until the but­ter has melted. Pour the mix­ture into a heat­proof bowl and place above a plan of sim­mer­ing water. Strain the eggs into the mix­ture and stir con­stantly until everything is com­bined. It will then take at least an hour to thick­en. Stir it fre­quently and do not allow it to get too hot — it will sep­ar­ate if you do. If you’re cau­tious with the heat, the thick­en­ing will take longer, but you will avoid calam­ity. Once the mix­ture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, pour it into the ster­il­ised jars and cov­er with a circle of greased paper. It will keep for around 6 to 8 weeks in the fridge.

P.S. I have used the phrase ‘orange-pot-think­ing’ three times in this post. It is now offi­cially a cliche and I prom­ise nev­er to use it again — unless, of course, lit­er­ally.

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